After dropping out of the national rankings, the Illinois baseball team is making a case to jump back into the top 25.
The Illini dropped the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 10-4, on Sunday, picking up the series sweep and their fifth straight win to improve to 23-8 overall on the season and 9-3 in conference play.
Rutgers jumped up early on Illinois by grabbing a run in the first inning, but that lead only lasted to the third inning.
With the bases loaded, sophomore second baseman Michael Massey hit a bomb to center field for a grand slam to bust open the scoring for the Illini.
Massey’s homer was followed up with another just two batters later as junior outfielder Jack Yalowitz hit a two-run home run to right field. After an RBI sacrifice fly from junior outfielder Zac Taylor, Illinois led 7-1 after the dust settled in the third inning.
The Scarlet Knights responded with a three-run homer the following inning, but the Illini added three more runs on the board after a RBI single from junior Jeff Korte in the fourth inning and an RBI triple from Taylor in the fifth.
Sophomore shortstop Ben Troike made it back-to-back runs for his team with an RBI single to center field, allowing Taylor to reach home.
Taylor finished the day going 2-for-3 from the plate with a double and triple for two RBIs. He also scored two runs in the game.
The Illini finished with 11 total hits while the Scarlet Knights only managed four.
Sophomore pitcher Ty Weber picked up the win after going the full nine innings, allowing four runs on four hits and striking out five Scarlet Knights’ batters in the process. The win improves Weber’s record to 4-1 on the season.
Sunday’s win not only secured the series sweep, but also gave Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb his 400th career victory.
Illinois will continue its home stretch Tuesday, April 17, when it welcomes in Valparaiso to Illinois Field at 6 p.m.