Illini Can't Hold Lead, Fall 4-3 to Western Kentucky

Junior Will Krug finished 4-for-5 with two runs in the 4-3 loss to Western Kentucky.
Junior Will Krug finished 4-for-5 with two runs in the 4-3 loss to Western Kentucky.

March 8, 2014

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Illinois (6-5) had its four-game winning streak snapped, as it dropped the first game of a doubleheader, 4-3, to Western Kentucky (8-5) on Saturday afternoon. Sophomore starter Kevin Duchene left with a 2-1 lead in the sixth and the Illini tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, but the UI bullpen allowed three runs in the eighth at Nick Denes Field.

The Illini out-hit the Hilltoppers 14-11, with the top of the order accounting for half of the hits. Junior Will Krug finished 4-for-5 with two runs, while junior Michael Hurwitz went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Sophomore Ryan Nagle and freshman Ryne Roper each had two hits.

Illinois scored the first run of the day on a delayed first and third steal, with Krug crossing home and Hurwitz getting back to first on the play with two outs in the top of the first. The Illini took a 2-0 lead in the second when they capitalized on a corrected call by the umpiring crew. After originally being called out on a fouled bunt, Ryne Roper ripped a triple to left after WKU retook the field and scored on a two-out RBI single by redshirt-freshman Zack Kolakowski.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Hilltoppers ended Duchene's scoreless streak, which had reached 17 innings dating back to the George Mason game. Philip Diedrick doubled to start the inning and came home on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Messex. After an error put runners on the corners, senior Ronnie Muck came on in relief and ended the threat on one pitch with a groundout to third.

The Illini got the run right back in the top of the seventh. Krug beat out a bunt for a base hit and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a wild pitch allowed him to cruise into third, an RBI single by Hurwitz brought home the leadoff hitter, making it 3-1.

The Orange and Blue fell for the third time this year when leading after seven innings when WKU capitalized on a pair of wild pitches and connected on a game-winning RBI single in the eighth. Two singles and a stolen base put runners in scoring position to start the stanza. Both runners came home on wild pitches during the next at-bat which resulted in a walk to Messex. Sophomore Tyler Jay relieved Muck, but gave up a single to Anderson Miller that plated the winning run.

Krug singled with two outs in the ninth and Hurwitz reached on a hit by pitch, but a strikeout ended the rally and the game. Duchene received a no decision after scattering eight hits and allowing one run in 5.2 innings, while Muck was pinned with his second loss and all three runs in the eighth.