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Illinois drops final game of series against No. 19 Indiana

Illinois couldn’t sweep the Hoosiers, but won pivotal series.

FightingIllini.com

Illinois struggled to score runs in its 9-2 loss against No.19 Indiana on Sunday at Illinois Field. Despite the loss, Illinois still won the first two games of the series, improving its record to 31-16 — as well as the Illini’s postseason chances.

“We did a good job this weekend,” said Head Coach Dan Hartleb. “We outplayed them the first two games, they outplayed us today. That is what happens when you have good teams on the field.”

The Illini had plenty of opportunities to score but left runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the second, Illinois had the bases loaded with two outs and couldn’t drive in a run. In the bottom of the fifth Illinois stranded Michael Michalak and Michael Massey on third and second with only one out. In total, the Illini had left seven men on base in the game.

Cyrillo Watson couldn’t follow up the great pitching performance from Andy Fisher and Ty Weber this weekend. Watson threw only five innings, giving up four runs and a crucial three-run home run to Elijah Dunham that cracked the game open for Indiana.

“We had opportunities with runners in scoring position and I didn’t feel like we had quality at-bats,” said Hartleb. “They went out and really didn’t walk people and we did. We walked people, and hit people. They outplayed us on both sides today.”

The Hoosiers hit a total of three home runs, including the three-run home run from Dunham, as well as a pair of two-run homers from Cole Barr and Ryan Fineman. The Hoosiers now lead the NCAA with 81 home runs this season.

Casey Dodge put the Illini on the board in the bottom of the ninth with his second-career home run. He drove in Andrew Dyke, but it was too little too late for Illinois.

Ben Troike was absent for his first game after being injured in game two with the Hoosiers. Troike took a pitch to the wrist in the eighth inning Saturday.

Moments that Mattered

Duck left on the pond: Illinois had trouble hitting in guys in scoring position. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Illinois had two runners in scoring position and couldn’t do anything. A similar situation happened in the second with bases loaded and two outs.

Free bases: Walks were aplenty for Indiana and the Hoosiers took advantage. Watson gave up a walk an inning in his five innings pitched and Illinois finished giving up a total of eight free passes.

Bullpen struggles: The great starts from Fisher and Weber left the bullpen open for Sunday’s game, but the bullpen did not show up. The relievers gave up a total of five runs in their four innings of work, including two home runs.

Tweet of the Game

He Said It

“We gotta go out and keep winning series, keep playing good baseball. Avoid the outside noise were getting right now and stay focused on what we need to do.” -Michael Massey on games down the stretch.

Up Next

Illinois takes on Big Ten rival Purdue in a three-game series at home next weekend. The series starts on Friday at 6 p.m. and closes on the Big Ten Network on Sunday 4 p.m. with Senior Day.

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