After starting the series by going into a battle of extra innings, Illinois struggled through the weekend against Purdue, but came out on top. The No. 23 Fighting Illini earned a spot in the Big Ten tournament after sweeping Purdue during the last home series of the season.
The Illini waited out a four-hour rain delay before starting Saturday’s game.
Illinois’ defense failed at protecting Ty Weber on Saturday, making three errors for the second time this season and going 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position — 0-for-4 with the bases loaded. But Weber, along with the rest of the bullpen, held the Boilermakers for the win.
“Overall, we pitched really well,” said head coach Dan Hartleb to FightingIllini.com. “Weber was good we just did not make many plays for him.”
Weber went 5.2 innings, allowing four runs (one of which was earned) on eight hits before the Illini went for the bullpen. Josh Harris got one out, Ryan Schmitt earned the win in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, Nathan Lavender got an out and Quinten Sefcik earned his second saved of the season in the ninth.
Jack Yalowitz hit the game-winning double in the seventh inning to clinch the series.
Illinois celebrated Senior Day with its seventh weekend sweep of the season.
The Illini’s offense worked well with Branden Comia, Jeff Korte, Michael Massey and Kellen Sarver all getting two hits.
“I thought we did a really good job,” head coach Dan Hartleb told FightingIllini.com “I thought our guys did a good job going out and finding a way to win.”
Purdue found a way to not strikeout during the game, but the Boilermakers had only three hits after the third inning.
The game was tied at four in the sixth until Korte pulled through with an RBI triple. The Illini’s catcher then scored on a sacrifice fly from Michael Michalak.
Illinois ended the series with closer Garett Acton, who picked up his 17th save of the season. Acton is one save away from tying the Big Ten single-season saves record (18).
Tweet of the Weekend
What a play from @cam_mcdonald4 ⚡️. #BTNStandout— Illinois Baseball (@IlliniBaseball) May 12, 2019
Purdue 1, #Illini 0 | MID 2 pic.twitter.com/9lb5lVWiAt
Numbers to Note
- Freshman Branden Comia has stepped up at shortstop after Illinois lost starter Ben Troike to a broken thumb. For this series, Comia’s numbers were: .462 (6-12), 3B, 3 R, RBI
- Grant Van Scoy is third in the Big Ten in batting average: .351
- Jack Yalowitz is batting .400 (14-35) in his last 10 games and is on a six-game hitting streak.
- Michael Massey is eighth in the Big Ten in batting average (.328), and has a reach-based streak of 18.
Illinois heads to Michigan State to finish the regular season Thursday through Saturday. Then, they leave for Omaha to start the Big Ten Tournament next week.