When looking at some of the most impressive weekends in Illinois baseball history, this weekend may crack the list.
The Illini accepted the invitation to the Frisco Classic and as they made the trip to Texas they saw three ranked teams staring back at them. The tournament’s slogan is best outside of Omaha and the Illini joined the No. 1, 13, and 23 team in the country down South for a weekend of action.
The Illini grabbed victories on Friday and Saturday before losing with the tournament’s title at steak. Illinois returns back to Champaign with two ranked win under its belt which will look great come tournament time.
Friday Night vs No. 13 Texas A&M
Weber outduels Lacy to hand Aggies first loss of the season
The Illini faced a daunting task on Friday night with Aggies ace Asa Lacy, who is projected to be a top-five pick in the MLB draft, scheduled to pitch against them. However, head coach Dan Hartleb’s ace Ty Weber was up to the challenge.
Weber showed up and delivered 6.2 innings of shutout baseball allowing just three hits. While Illinois’ offense struggled to get going, Weber kept the hope alive.
After Ryan Kutt battled out of a jam in the seventh and delivered a scoreless eighth, the Illini manufactured a run on their own in the bottom of the eigth.
Leadoff man Taylor Jackson singled, and stole second base which put the Illini in a golden position to score. Scorching hot Branden Comia lined a single and Jackson avoided a tag at the plate to give the Illini a 1-0 lead that would hold up.
Garrett Acton came in and closed the door on the Aggies to secure his third save of the season as the Illini handed the Aggies their first loss of the season and Dan Hartleb notched his 450th career win.
In regards to what this win meant for Illinois, Hartleb kept it brief.
“This proves we can play with anyone in the country,”
The Illini used that attitude to their advantage on Saturday.
Saturday afternoon vs. No. 23 Oklahoma State
Comia stays hot at the plate as Illini stifle Cowboys
Just a day removed from notching a ranked win in a thriller against Texas A&M, the Illini delivered another impressive performance when they played a ranked Oklahoma State.
It was a higher scoring contest on Saturday, as the Orange and Blue topped the Cowboys 4-2 this time around.
Branded Comia carried the offense, with a triple and a homer, just hours after he delivered the game-winning RBI single against the Aggies.
Jacob Campbell drove in a pair of runs as he, Comia and four other Illini had a pair of hits.
Kellen Sarver delivered the final blow to the Cowboys with a double off the wall in the late innings to plate Alex Steinbach, who is also off to a hot start this season.
From the mound the Illini were superb. Ty Rybarczyk and Cole Kirschsieper combined for 8.1 innings and each of them gave up just one run. Once again Acton was the man who came in to get the games’ final outs, for the fourth time this season.
Red hot, the Illini attempted to ride that momentum into Sunday against the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins for the Frisco Classic Title.
Sunday Afternoon vs. No. 1 UCLA
Scorching Illini are cooled off by Bruins, lose 14-1.
The Illini met their match on Sunday, as the nation’s number one team hit the ball all over the diamond as the Bruins tagged Illinois for 14 runs.
Illinois was only able to muster up one run on four hits, but it came on a first inning RBI knock from Kellen Sarver to give the Illini a 1-0 lead.
Following that, Aidan Maldonado, Ryan Schmitt, Grant Leader and Alex Vera were knocked around for 14 runs on 17 hits.
The Illini end the Frisco Classic with a second place finish, and a weekend to be proud of nonetheless.
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The Illini have a quick turn around as they prepare for the home opener this Tuesday against Chicago State.