After a dominant 11-3 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday to force the series finale rubber match on Sunday, it appeared Illinois possessed the momentum heading into Sunday’s series finale.
This statement was false.
The Buckeyes dominated the Illini, 10-5, to pick up the series win as the Illini dropped their second straight Big Ten series.
Ohio State clamped its foot down early on Illinois, picking up five runs in the second inning to put itself ahead 5-0. The inning was filled with countless Illini mistakes as a lead-off walk and two consecutive errors loaded the bases and set the table for the Buckeyes to have a big inning.
Defense was not a strong suit for the Illini in the series finale, committing four errors in the game.
The following batter was walked, allowing the game’s first run to be put on the board. An RBI single and a walk added two more runs.
The game was broke wide open after a one-out RBI double from infielder Kobie Foppe put the fourth and fifth runs of the inning on the board.
Illinois chipped away at the lead in the next three innings. Catcher Jeff Korte hit a solo homer to right field to get his team its first run of the game. Outfielder Zac Taylor drew a walk with the bases loaded in the fifth to get the second run, and first baseman Bren Spillane led the sixth inning off by hitting his 18th home run of the season to left-center field.
Ohio State did grab a run in the fourth inning, so it still possessed a three-run lead heading into the seventh inning.
And it added to the lead in the seventh, picking up three more runs thanks to two-out RBI double from infielder Noah West that cleared the loaded bases.
The Illini responded in the seventh with two runs. Infielder Ben Troike extended his on-base streak to 48 games when he hit an infield RBI single. Spillane followed that up by hitting into a double-play, but a run still reached home off the hit.
A five-run deficit was too much for Illinois to overcome in the eight and ninth innings as the Ohio State bullpen kept Illinois from striking back.
The schedule isn’t getting any easier for the Illini this upcoming week, traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a weekend series against the Michingan Wolverines.