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Illinois holds off Chicago State in home opener, 11-8

It wasn’t pretty, but the Illini got the job done.

fightingillini.com

It was no secret that Illinois was expected to win its home opener Tuesday night against Chicago State. Coming off a hot weekend in Texas where the Illini beat two ranked teams (Texas A&M and Oklahoma State) they had plenty of momentum.

Branden Comia carried the offense for yet another game. But the 11-8 win against the Cougars didn’t come easy. Comia led the way with four hits and four RBIs, including three extra base hits. He knows how to put his team in the best situations when he’s at the plate and it’s clear he’s a vital asset to the team this season.

Danny Doligale also helped put the Illini up, the freshman had three runs and two RBI’s. Illini catcher Jacob Campbell also tacked on two RBI in the Illini’s victory.

The offense picked up the slack for the pitching staff tonight. While the Illini thrived through their pitching staff the past few games, they struggled today. Senior Jimmy Burnette, who started on the mound with a 0-2 record, did not have a good outing — allowing five earned runs and four walks in just 2.2 innings pitched. While Burnette hasn’t had the best start to the season (he owns a 10.12 ERA), he had a seemingly simple job to get done.

Sophomore pitcher Caleb Larson came in to relieve Burnette and helped carry the Illini for another 3.1 innings. Grant Leader and Ryan Kutt followed with one inning, respectively.

The night ended with none other than closer Garrett Acton on the mound and a sliding catch by Taylor Jackson in the bottom of the 9th to secure the win. Acton picked up his fifth save of the year and his 24th of his Illini career — moving into a first place tie all-time in Illinois history.

While it wasn’t the best game the Illini have had this season, if this is as bad as it gets, I’ll take it.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

  • There were four Illinois players hit by pitches (Alex Steinbach, Taylor Jackson, Andrew Dyke and Jacob Campbell)
  • Doligale put the Illini back on top in the 5th.

TWEET OF THE GAME

Did you really think the tweet would involve anything other than a good boy?

SOUND SMART

Branden Comia CAN HIT.

UP NEXT

The Illini travel to Elon, North Carolina, for a weekend series.