CHAMPAIGN, lll. — A home run derby broke out in Champaign on Tuesday night at Illinois field.
Illinois and Bradley combined to hit a total of nine home runs in the Illini’s 12-8 loss against the Braves.
The scoring started unusually early for the Illini with a two-out rally in the first inning. Freshman Cam McDonald hit a two-RBI double followed by a Jack Yalowitz single to give the Illini an early lead.
Dan Bolt started the home run fest with a solo shot in the second inning. The Braves hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning with a three-run home run from Jean-Francois Garon and another solo shot from Bolt. The home run streak continued in the fourth when Brendan Dougherty hit a two-run homer to give the Braves a 7-3 lead.
Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb had to go to the bullpen early after Aiden Maldonado gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings of work. Quinten Sefcik, Josh Harris, and Garrett Acton weren’t much relief giving up four earned runs to close out the last three innings.
“We did not pitch well at all,” Hartleb said. “We just have had no consistency on the mound. We will get a good start out of a guy and then his next outing won’t be as good.”
Illinois came storming back with a trio of home runs in the fourth inning to retake the lead. Grant Van Scoy and Jacob Campbell started the scoring with two solo shots followed by a two-run home run from Michael Massey.
LET'S GOOOO@mmass7219 goes 419 feet off the batter's eye for the third homer in the last four batters. #Illini 8, Bradley 7 | B4 pic.twitter.com/fI5zLBopNx— Illinois Baseball (@IlliniBaseball) April 17, 2019
Bradley finished the last three innings with two home runs from Connor O’Brien and scoring four runs. Illinois wasn’t able to keep up with the Braves’ runs and finished the last three innings scoreless.
“Offense, we were good for four innings, but you have to be very consistent,” Hartleb said. “We didn’t have a lot of quality at-bats as we moved later into the game. We gotta find a way to score on a regular basis.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fewer ducks on the pond: Illinois has struggled with runners in scoring position. After the Maryland doubleheader, Hartleb expressed his disappointment for his teams at-bats with men in scoring position. Today, it was clear the Illini had resolved the issue. With the bases loaded in the second and one out, Zac Taylor hit a sacrifice fly to score the Illini’s fourth run. In a similar situation two weeks ago, Illinois would have scored zero. Taylor showed great awareness by pushing the ball to the outfield and getting the run in.
Gone with the wind: The outfield got plenty of exercise last night thanks to nine mph winds straight to center field. The game had a total of nine home runs and six doubles, which had both teams’ fielders running around all night. Ultimately, the Illini weren’t able to keep up with the Braves’ bats and got burned by their pitching.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Who doesn’t love a Star Wars reference?
Bradley strikes back. Dan Bolt goes deep to put the Braves on the board.— Patrick Catezone (@p_catezone) April 16, 2019
Illini: 3 Bradley: 1 | Bottom 2nd pic.twitter.com/2VTIrn2PHG
HE SAID IT
“I’m excited. Any time I get my name in the lineup, I have the chance to help the team win the game, and that’s all I’m trying to do.” - Massey on his return to second base.
Illinois takes on the Penn State Nittany Lions in a three-game series starting on Friday at Illinois field.
Friday’s game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network at 7:30 p.m. CT.