CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Leadoff hitter Ben Troike is up next in a tie game in the bottom of the 10th inning against Penn State. Andrew Van Dyke and Jason Campbell at the corners with two outs on a chilly 40-degree night. Penn State shifts its defense towards the shortstop to cover Troike’s righty pull hitting.
“I saw that big hole on the right side,” Troike said. “I was just hoping to get a pitch over the middle of the plate and drive it that way.”
Troike singles into the gap, driving in Van Dyke for the winning run. He flipped his helmet in the air and ran to the mob of teammates celebrating the 2-1 win.
“He had a couple of other rough at-bats with runners in scoring position and comes up in the tenth and has a really good at-bat,” said Head Coach Dan Hartleb. “It’s just part of it, sometimes it doesn't go your way, but he found a way to be composed and get his job done.”
How We Got Here
Illinois struggled early to score runs. Troike doubled to start the game off but was stranded on second. Illinois loaded the bases with two outs in both the second and third inning but couldn’t score any runs. Penn State started the scoring in the third inning when Connor Klemann hit a triple and scored on a fielders choice.
Andy Fisher gave Illinois five quality innings, giving up only one run on three hits while striking out eight. Sean Leland entered the game in the sixth and continued Fisher’s work, throwing five scoreless innings striking out seven.
“We did a great job on the mound,” Hartleb said. “We had fifteen strikeouts and only four walks, Sean Leland had seven strikeouts with no walks only gave up one hit. I thought they were outstanding.”
Illinois tied the game up late in the seventh. Michael Massey tripled to start off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly from freshman Kellen Sarver to make it a 1-1 game.
A game-winning opportunity came up for Illinois in the ninth inning with bases loaded and only one out, but it took 10th inning heroics from Troike to finish off the Nittany Lions.
Moments that mattered
Golden Glove Defense: Illinois’ defense was great all night long. With no outs and a man on first in the top of the fifth, Massey made a diving stop and turned a double play. In a low-scoring game with the wind blowing in like last night, it’s important to make those great defensive plays.
“From a defensive standpoint, we did a really good job,” Hartleb said after the game.
Qweet of the Game
“Freezing.” - Ben Troike on ice shower after the game.
Illinois has two more games left in the series with the Nittany Lions. They play on Saturday at 3 p.m. and on Easter at noon.
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