Illinois’ pitching staff warmed up in its three-game sweep over Grand Canyon in Phoenix this weekend.
The Illini (10-3) got revenge against the Antelopes (6-9), who beat Illinois in Champaign twice in their three game series in 2018, which likely kept them out of the tournament. The Illini defeated the Antelopes this weekend by scores of 6-3, 5-2, and 9-2.
Andy Fisher continued his hot start this week when he took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning on Friday. Fisher got help from fellow senior Jack Yalowitz, who hit two solo home runs, a double, and a single for a total of five RBIs. The Antelopes scored three runs in the eighth inning, but closer Garrett Acton threw a lights out ninth inning for the save and a 6-3 victory.
”This was a really good team win,” head coach Dan Hartleb told FightingIllini.com after the game. “We did a good job and had good energy. And we bounced back from a tough weekend.”
The Illini followed that impressive no-hit bid with more impressive pitching Saturday. After starter Ty Weber gave up two runs in 3.2 innings pitched, Sean Leland gave the Illini some relief with 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball and the win.
“Sean Leland was outstanding,” Hartleb told FightingIllini.com. “Two hits on the day total, our guys did a good job on the mound. I was really pleased with them. A lot of really good things on the mound.”
The Illini got offensive help from Ben Troike, who had a three-hit day, and Michael Massey, who doubled and homered for two runs. Josh Harris and Acton closed out a scoreless ninth inning to give the Illini the 5-2 win.
The Illini finished off the weekend with an offensive explosion on Sunday when they cruised to a 9-2 victory. Massey started the scoring with a home run in the third inning and it didn’t stop there. The Illini got multiple hits from six different players, including Zac Taylor who was a home run away from the cycle.
The Illini got another quality start from Cyrillo Watson, who pitched six innings and only surrendered one run.
Illinois had a big hole to fill when Bren Spillane left for the draft last year, and Zac Taylor has filled the gap. Taylor leads the team in batting average (.400), home runs (3), and doubles (7). Taylor racked up 5 hits this weekend and was a home run away from the cycle on Sunday.
Taylor left the game early on Sunday after crashing into the wall, but hopefully won’t miss any time.
Snarskis did not see any action this week. The senior has had a tough start to the season posting a 9.53 ERA in just 3 starts.
It will be interesting if Hartleb keeps Ty Weber in as the second day starter spot or if he switches up the rotation.
Tweet of the Weekend
The Illini begin their first home series against the Southern Illinois Salukis on Friday at Illinois Field.
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