Transfers led the way for the Illini in their opening trip out east to kick off the 2020 season.
Illinois returns home with one win and a pair of losses after a trio of games in North Carolina.
Illini vs. Milwaukee: 3-2 win
The Illini opened the season against Milwaukee and won 3-2. All three of those runs were created by transfers. Outfielder Nathan Aide homered in his first Illini at-bat, a two-run shot that put Illinois on the board for the first time this season.
Later in that game, Aide was driven in by another transfer player. Adam Steinbach drove in his fellow transfer with an RBI double that turned out to be the winning run.
On the mound Ty Weber excelled. The senior scattered four hits across six innings, gave up one run and struck out six. Ryan Schmitt bridged the game to closer Garrett Acton who secured his first save of the season, a year after leading the Big Ten and the nation in that same category.
Illini vs. Seton Hall: 10-2 loss
The second game of the weekend was not so good for Illinois. Despite holding a lead for most of the game, Seton Hall poured it on with nine runs in the final two innings to beat the Illini 10-2.
The Illini got on the board with a Kellen Sarver RBI groundout and Brodie Harding’s first career hit and RBI.
The bullpen did not have a great showing Saturday, but Ty Rybarczyk pitched well in his first career Illini start. The transfer from Parkland tossed five shutout innings and struck out five batters to keep the Illini in the game.
Illini vs. No. 18 Wake Forest: 5-3 loss
The toughest test of the weekend came on Sunday as the Illini had the difficult task of facing a ranked team. Illinois ultimately lost a tight game, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon.
Although the end result wasn’t intended, the game could not have started better. Transfer outfielder Taylor Jackson led off the game with a long home run on the game’s opening pitch.
Nathan Aide also added some offense for the Illini. After Wake Forest took the lead, Aide answered with a two-run single to tie the game at three.
That was all the offense got going, as Wake Forest went up for good and did not look back. On the mound the Illini had two pitchers go the entire game. Aidan Maldonado and Cole Kirschsieper combined to strike out nine. Maldonado started the game went the first 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs. Then Kirschsieper allowed only one run the rest of the way.
Aside from Aide leading the way offensively, Branden Comia put together a solid weekend. In 12 plate appearances, the Illini sophomore reached base eight times.
He Said It
“Moving forward this is going to help us improve moving forward” - Head Coach Dan Hartleb.
Illinois travels to Coastal Carolina next weekend for matchups against Western Carolina, West Virginia and, of course, Coastal Carolina.