Illini rout Wagner 14-1, clinch share of NIA championship
Feb. 27, 2005
Rock Hill, S.C. - Illinois caught fire early against Wagner and never let up, cruising to 14-1 victory on the final day of the NIA Shootout to clinch at least a share of the tourney title. The Illini (2-1) scored in six of the nine innings and used outstanding pitching performances from starter Brian Blomquist and reliever Jake Stewart to move to 2-1 on the season and clinch a share of the NIA Shootout championship.
"You have to give Blomquist credit for that because he really had it under control," Illinois coach Richard "Itch" Jones said. "I still believe they're a very good hitting ball club and they showed that against Kent State and Winthrop, but our pitching was very good."
The Illini pounded out 20 hits, more than doubling their season hits total to this point. Illinois had 19 hits in its first two games of the season. Rogowski recorded Illinois' first four-hit game of 2005, with three singles and a double, scored three times and drove in two. Roof, Frk and Davidson each had three hits for the Illini, and Rohde and Bensko had two apiece. Benkso finished with three RBI and Rogowski drove in two. Frk scored three times and drove in two, and Davidson and Rogowski each scored twice.
"Our offense got them down and scored some runs and put them behind, and our pitching shut them down," Jones said. "We kept getting a run or two each inning and after a while this kind of game happens. We got out in front and they didn't look like the same ball club they were yesterday."
Illinois hopped on top first, scoring twice in the first inning. Sohpomore Shawn Roof took advantage of his first start of the season by singling, moving to second on a botched pickoff attempt and scoring on Rogowski's base hit. Rogowski stole second and scored when the Wagner right fielder let Mike Rohde's single go through his legs, giving Illinois a 2-0 lead after an inning.
The Illini continued to push runs across, with Drew Davidson scoring on Shawn Roof's double in the second inning to increase the lead to 3-0. Dusty Bensko added a two-run double in the third, plating Chad Frk and Rohde, and giving Illinois a 5-0 lead.
The Illini continued the onslaught in the fourth, plating four more runs and finally chasing Wagner starter Michael D'Angelis. Shortstop Toby Gardenhire led off the inning with a double down the left-field line and scored on Rogowski's base hit to right field. Catcher Chris Robinson drove Rogowski in with a double to right-center, moved to third on Frk's infield hit and scored on Rohde's sacrifice fly to right-center field. Frk scored from second on Bensko's single to left, giving Illinois a 9-0 lead after four innings.
The Illini pushed two more across with two solo home runs in the sixth inning. Frk led off the frame with a shot to left-center field, and Drew Davidson added a towering blast of his own to left, extending Illinois's lead to 11-0.
Brian Blomquist tossed six innings of three-hit shutout ball, striking out six while allowing only one walk to get his first win of the year. Stewart threw two perfect innings of relief, striking out two.
"I was well pleased with our performance all weekend," Jones said. "Even our error, it came up on Roof. It could've been a hit as easily as an error. Our defense did a nice job all weekend and it ended on a nice play with Bensko making a diving backhanded catch and getting the out at first."
The Illini return to action next weekend in Edinburg, Texas, where they will face Texas-San Antonio, Texas-Pan American and Sam Houston State.