When Illinois lost to Maryland on Wednesday, it knew its game against two-seed Michigan was a must win if they wanted to continue through the Big Ten Tournament.
Unfortunately, the Illini gave it all they had, but still couldn’t overcome the Wolverines, losing 5-4 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
“Obviously a tough loss for us,” said head coach Dan Hartleb to FightingIllini.com “Takes us out of the tournament and you always want to play for a championship. We had a lot of guys do things well today, I thought we played to win, but ultimately we just made too many mistakes.”
Kellen Sarver put the Illini on the board in the fourth inning with an RBI-double that brought Zac Taylor home. Jack Yalowitz stepped up to the plate to bunt, and brought in Kellen Sarver who slide safely into home, giving Illinois their second run of the game. Grant Van Scoy — who was snubbed for an All Big Ten spot — had a hard hit double to bring in Yalowitz.
Moments That Mattered
A play in the bottom of the seventh changed the momentum, and played a part in the outcome for the Illini.
The Wolverines challenged the call at first and was overturned, putting one on the board for Michigan.
A two-run double by Ako Thomas tied it up at three.
Illinois collected a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to take the lead.
Illinois Ty Weber had his work cut out for him at the mound going 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, three runs, six strikeouts. After that, Sean Leland came in for 0.2 innings, Quinten Sefcik followed with 1.0 innings.
The nation’s leader in saves, Garrett Acton, came in to close. Acton was even hyped up by the announcers, but didn’t pull through for the Illini this time. The Wolverines walked it off with a two RBI double to the left center field gap. Acton took the loss.
“In the NCAA Tournament we’re going to play good teams like we played today,” Van Scoy said to FightingIllini.com. “If we keep fighting and battling, I think we are going to come out on the other side.”
While these past two games weren't the performances the Illini hoped to have in the Big Ten Tournament, their success and ranking through the regular season should be enough to keep their season alive.
Though having a high seed doesn’t seem to be likely for them, Illinois looks to go on a post season run — starting with regionals. The NCAA Selection Show with be on Monday to see where the Illini stand.
For vintage inspired, high quality, and well-designed University of Illinois apparel, check out Fourth and Kirby, and look for the TCR Collection while you’re at it!