Illinois freshman Cyrillo Watson allowed one earned run in a career-high seven innings pitched Saturday as the Illini beat No. 24 Maryland 6-2. Illinois scored all of its runs in the third inning and four with two outs to square the series 1-1.
Watson (2-4) scattered five hits, struck out three and walked two on 97 pitches. He threw the first five frames scoreless in his longest career outing by a full inning.
Illinois (20-24, 6-11 Big Ten) put six runs on the board off of Maryland starter Tyler Blohm (8-4), the most runs he has allowed all season. Bren Spillane provided the big blow on a two-out three-RBI double to left center field. Ben Troike and Pat McInerney also provided run-scoring hits in the third and Casey Dodge had a base-loaded walk.
The Illini had 11 hits, including five in the third inning. Jack Yalowitz led the charge with three hits, while McInerney and Spillane each added two. Michael Massey had his Illinois season-best hitting streak stop at 15 games.
Maryland (31-14, 14-6 Big Ten) still leads the Big Ten with at least three more conference wins than any Big Ten team.
The rubber match of the three-game series is scheduled for Sunday at 12 p.m. CT at Illinois Field. Matthew James is scheduled to start for Illinois against Maryland's Taylor Bloom.