Needing a weekend series win to push their way back into the national rankings, the Fighting Illini got the job done with a 4-2 win over the Maryland Terrapins on Sunday afternoon. Pitcher Ryan Thompson notched his sixth victory of the season after 2.1 innings in relief, striking out four batters and only allowing three hits.
Illinois got a little help in the top of the seventh inning in College Park, when a ball in the dirt allowed Grant Van Scoy to reach first. During the play, Michael Michalak scored all the way from second base to tie the game. The Illini were able to tack on two runs in the eighth inning thanks to a pair of sacrifice flies, and closer Joey Gerber slammed the door with a four out save.
Sunday’s win comes after a split of Friday’s doubleheader. The Illini started off game one with a 10-run barrage, winning the game 10-6 after a Zac Taylor grand slam in the fifth inning.
Maryland (15-17, 3-3) would take the second game, winning 7-1 in a rough outing from Ryan Schmidt. His first career start was not a memorable one, as he gave up six runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Despite the rough outing, Illinois was able to close the series win on Sunday to improve to 19-8 overall (6-3 in conference play).
Illinois won its first Big Ten series of the season when it swept Northwestern on the road two weeks ago.
The Illini will face the Illinois State Redbirds at Illinois Field on Tuesday night, followed by a weekend series with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Illinois and Illinois State’s game was cancelled last week in Bloomington due to cold weather.