Illinois starting pitcher Quinn Snarskis entered Saturday’s game against Rutgers with three quality starts in 2018.
Now he has four — and a gem.
Snarskis (4-1) pitched 6.2 innings and allowed three hits and one unearned run against Rutgers on Saturday afternoon, leading the Illini to a 2-1 victory.
He had a no-hit bid through three innings that ended when Rutgers shortstop Dan DiGeorgio led off the fourth with a single to left. The Knights put runners on second and third but could not capitalize.
“Quinn had great fastball command, he was outstanding,” said Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. “He was getting ahead in the count, not keeping pitches and throwing multiple pitches for a strike. That was his best start of the year.”
Rutgers only sent 21 batters to the plate over its first six innings as Snarskis efficiently (85 pitches) worked through the Knights lineup, which featured seven right-handed hitters.
“I just kept getting them to roll over the ball today,” Snarskis said. “Kept running the two-seam down and getting them to beat it into the ground.”
Snarskis found some trouble from Rutgers in the seventh inning.
Centerfielder Jawuan Harris hit a deep fly toward the right field wall, only to be robbed by Jack Yalowitz with one out in the seventh.
A two-out base hit by Carmen Sclafani was followed by Illinois’ Grant Van Scoy recording an error at third base for the second consecutive game. A grounder took a high hop under his glove and continued the frame. Kevin Welsh was able to drive in Rutgers’ first run of the afternoon, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Snarskis brought Van Scoy to the mound during a dead ball after the play.
“One thing we always say is to bring the guy to the mound after a play like that,” Snarskis said. “You say, ‘Hey, I got you, I got you.’ Just got to make the next pitch.”
Illinois struck first in the opening frame for the second-straight game; although, the Illini were unable to match the nine they scored in the first during Friday’s series opener.
Doran Turchin drove in Ben Troike on a single up the middle after Troike’s base hit extended his on-base streak to a Big Ten-high 35 games.
Illinois threatened again in the second by putting the first three runners on base, but a strikeout, infield fly and fielders’ choice got Harry Rutkowski out of the inning.
Leaving runners on base was the theme of the afternoon for the Illini. Hartleb’s team finished with 10 hits, but left nine runners on base, leading to only two runs.
“That’s just baseball,” Hartleb said. “We did a good job getting the bases loaded, but you have to look at the fact that their pitcher threw some really good pitches.”
Rutkowski lasted six innings on the hill and only surrendered the two runs in the first three innings. The freshman allowed nine hits while striking out six and walking two.
Zack Jones, Ryan Thompson and Joey Gerber relieved Snarskis in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Gerber picked up his Big Ten-leading 11th save of the season.
“We wanted the left-on-left battle with (LHP) Zack Jones, and he got his job done with a 3-2 breaking ball,” Hartleb said. “And then 1-2-3 innings from Thompson and Gerber, just outstanding.”
Designated hitter Mark Skonieczny got his sixth start of the season, in place of the injured Bren Spillane. Skonieczny recorded his second base hit of the season (2-for-23) in the fourth inning.
Spillane is listed as day-to-day. He started Friday’s game and went 2-for-2 before being pulled in the second inning. He was named Rawling’s Midseason National Player of the Year earlier this week.
First baseman Michael Michalak had his six-game hitting streak snapped Friday night, but he opened the second inning with a double to left field.
Turchin hit his first triple of the season with one out in the third inning when he lined a hit toward the right-center field gap. Jack Yalowitz drove him in after hitting a line drive under DiGeorgio’s glove at short.
Illinois catcher Jeff Korte slowed down after a three-hit performance in the series opener, with included the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning. Korte finished 0-for-3 with a walk Saturday.
Less Wind, Lower Score
Friday’s game featured a 13-12 Illinois victory on a windy night at Illinois Field.
Saturday’s had little wind and only three total runs.
“Yesterday the wind was blowing out pretty hard,” Snarskis said. “I just came in and wanted to pound the zone, and once they made adjustments, they started jumping a little on me.”
Illinois (22-8, 8-3 Big Ten) and Rutgers (18-13, 4-4) complete the three-game series Sunday afternoon at Illinois Field. First pitch is schedule at 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on BTNPlus.
RHP Ty Weber (3-1, 2.81 ERA) gets the nod for Illinois, and LHP Eric Reardon (1-1, 2.65) will start for Rutgers.