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Illinois loses for fourth time in five games with 4-3 loss to Bradley

The Illini finish their homestand 5-4.

Sohum Nagi

For 10.2 innings against Illinois, the Shadids were producing all of Bradley’s offense.

Brothers Luke and Andy Shadid combined for the first four hits for the Braves. Keaton Rice was the first Bradley player who isn’t a member of the Shadid family to have a base hit — and his was the biggest of the night.

Rice’s two-out 11th inning single to left field plated Dan Bolt, the game-winning run in a 4-3 victory for Bradley over Illinois.

“It’s frustrating,” said Illinois shortstop Ben Troike. “We wanted to come and take care of business, and we’re just struggling right now.”

Hits were at a premium for the Illini all night, too.

Illinois only had two hits through the first seven innings against Bradley, but the Illini were able to manage three in the eighth inning to give themselves a chance to win.

The Illini trailed 3-2 in the eighth — despite only having two hits. Third baseman Grant Van Scoy started the frame with a single. He was followed two batters later by Troike, who dropped a single to left field, opening the door for slugging first baseman Bren Spillane with runners on first and second. Spillane doubled down the right-field line, scoring Van Scoy and tying the game at three.

Illinois found itself in a late hole due to pitching struggles early on.

Starter Cyrillo Watson struggled out of the gate in his first start since March 14. Watson went two innings and allowed two hits, including a leadoff triple to Luke Shadid, and two runs (one earned), which featured a second-inning run scoring after third baseman Grant Van Scoy’s third error of the season.

“Cyrillo hadn’t been able to pitch because he had been hurt, so he was on a pitch count,” said Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. “We didn’t help him out.”

Sean Leland relieved Watson after two innings, but he struggled (0.2 innings, three walks, one hit by pitch) and walked in the third run.

“We’re not doing the little things,” Hartleb said. “We made mistakes that let all four runs score.”

Andy Shadid led off the eighth inning with Bradley’s third hit of the game, but he was picked off first base. He also had another single in the 11th.

Bradley starter Mitch Janssen retired 10 Illini in a row after issuing a leadoff walk to Zac Taylor in the first. Illinois first baseman Bren Spillane drew a fourth-inning walk to end the streak.

Spillane stole second during Michael Massey’s ensuing at bat, and Massey drove him in on Illinois’ first single of the night, an RBI single up the middle.

Janssen’s night ended after 3.2 innings, allowing one hit and one earned run.

Illinois produced another run in the fifth inning — without recording a base hit. Designated hitter Michael Michalak drew a walk to start the inning against reliever Brian Schrimmer. Michalak advanced to second on the Illini’s third stolen base of the game, and he scored on an error by Luke Shadid on a grounder to short. Michalak broke for third base from second on the grounder, and Shadid’s throw made it all the way to the third-base dugout.

Boby Johnson (1-1) finished the game on the mound for Bradley with 3.2 shutout innings.

Joey Gerber (0-1) picked up the loss after allowing the 11th-inning run.

Bradley’s win marks the second-straight year that the Braves defeat the Illini at Illinois Field.

Notable Illini

Ryan Schmitt entered the game for Leland in the third inning. Schmitt was dealing for 3.1 innings as he retired all 10 Braves he faced. He did not record an out during a midweek start last week versus Valparaiso.

“He did really well tonight,” Troike said. “He was going at guys and had three pitches going for a strike, and he kept us in the game. We just couldn't return the favor.”

Troike extended his on-base streak to a Big Ten-high 41 games with an eighth-inning single. He added another base hit with two outs in the 10th.

“Honestly, at that point, the on-base streak wasn’t going through my mind at all,” Troike said.

Troike struck out his first three at bats in the game.

“I had three pretty bad at bats, and I was just trying to get on-base to get Bren (Spillane) up.”

That’s SOOOOO 90s

Tuesday was 90s night at Illinois Field, which meant there was going to be some gnarly moments throughout the night.

Illinois Baseball’s Twitter account shared its lineup card as a tweet in a pretty creative way.

The Backyard Baseball references weren’t done there.

Spillane was compared to Backyard Baseball superstar Pablo Sanchez later in the evening.

We’d take Spillane. Boo ya.

What’s Next

Illinois hits the road for the first time since April 8 when the Illini head to Bloomington, Indiana, for a weekend series with the Hoosiers. Indiana sits at fifth in the Big Ten standings with a 7-4 conference record.

“We’ve got a huge series this weekend,” Troike said. “We’ll be fine.”

The Illini finished their nine-game homestand with a 5-4 record.