Illinois had another dominant weekend when it swept in-state rival Illinois State (13-9) and improved to 17-4. The Illini scored a total of 30 runs and gave up only six in their sweep of the Redbirds.
The Illini got off to their hot start on Friday with a 14-3 win thanks to great pitching from Andy Fisher and a group effort on offense. Fisher gave up one run and struck out seven in six innings of work, and improved to 3-1 on the season.
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Jack Yalowitz had two hits, including a three-run home run. Yalowitz got help from fellow senior Grant Van Scoy, who had three hits and three runs.
The Illini pitching stayed hot when Ty Weber took the mound on Saturday. Weber went 8.2 innings only giving up two runs, both in the ninth inning, before getting pulled for the last out. Weber has stepped up in the starting roll posting a 1.52 ERA in his four starts.
“I had a lot of fun out there today,” Weber said postgame. “It’s fun going out there knowing you have such a good defense behind you because all you have to do is focus on pitching and let the other team hit it around and more time than not our defense is gonna get us outs.”
Freshmen Branden Comia and Cam McDonald stepped up on Saturday. Comia had three hits and two runs while McDonald had two hits and two RBIs, which led the Illini to a 4-2 victory.
The Illini completed the sweep on a rainy Sunday afternoon when they beat the Redbirds 12-1, scoring nine runs on 10 hits in the first two innings.
Freshman Nathan Lavender made his second career start and picked up the win in four innings of work. From there Hartleb went to the bullpen to close out the win. Lavender made huge strides from his first start on Wednesday when he gave up two runs in only three innings of work.
“Bottom line is I think we are a good team, we play good team baseball,” Hartleb said about his series win. “It’s one of those deals where you try and make people beat you, and to this point this year we haven’t beaten ourselves.”
Moments that Mattered
Acton Saves the Day: Ty Weber found himself with a little trouble in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run at bat. Garrett Acton came in to get the final out and his eighth save of the year. The Parkland College transfer has yet to give up a run in nine appearances and has been a great addition to the closer role.
Freshman Continuing to Impact Games: Freshman Branden Comia, Cam McDonald, and Jacob Campbell had impressive weekends. The freshmen combined for 15 hits and 11 RBIs this weekend and only committed one error in the field. The trio have made the impact needed to give the Illini the extra push to make the postseason this year.
Tweet of the Week
Check out Cam McDonald’s first-career homer as an Illini. McDonald has stepped up in the absence of the injured Zac Taylor.
First career HR for @cam_mcdonald4 ⚡️— Illinois Baseball (@IlliniBaseball) March 24, 2019
100 mph exit velo
27° launch angle pic.twitter.com/xGIYmwXSbZ
The team travels Indiana State in Terre Haute for one game on Tuesday, then travel to Iowa City for a three game series to open Big Ten play against the Hawkeyes on Friday.