Illini Drop Doubleheader at Southern Illinois
March 15, 2014
CARBONDALE, Ill. - After winning the series opener on Friday, Illinois (7-9) was unable to take the series from Southern Illinois (10-8), dropping both games of the doubleheader by one run on Saturday. The Illini led 4-0 after one inning in the first game, but fell 6-5 at Itchy Jones Stadium. The offense was unable to get things going until the ninth inning of game two, as UI came up short, 3-2.
"We didn't swing the bats well today and didn't get our jobs done," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "My frustration was that we don't have guys swinging with a lot of confidence. We need to get that corrected. We also had some costly errors and needed to make plays at the right time."
Southern Illinois racked up 24 hits on the day, with 16 in the opening game and eight in the night cap. The Illini totaled 15 hits overall and notched five runs in the first three innings before going scoreless for 14 consecutive innings until they crossed two more in the final inning of the doubleheader.
Game One Recap // Southern Illinois 6, Illinois 5 | Printable Box Score
In the top of the first, freshman Matthew James ripped a double for his first career hit to start a four-run rally in the opening frame. After a wild pitch, junior David Kerian brought him home and reached on a throwing error by the shortstop. Redshirt-junior Reid Roper singled to right field to put runners on the corners, while sophomore Jason Goldstein found a hole through the right side to drive in Kerian for the second run.
On the next pitch, sophomore Ryan Nagle sent an RBI single through the left side that plated Reid Roper followed by an RBI single to center by junior Casey Fletcher, knocking in Goldstein. SIU responded with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the second. Tyler Rolland put the Salukis on the board with an RBI single up the middle, while a two-out, two-run double by Ryan Sabo cut it to a 4-3 Illini lead.
Fletcher drove in his second run in as many at-bats with a single to left center for a 5-3 advantage, sending home Reid Roper, who walked to start the third. Southern Illinois took a 6-5 lead with three more runs in the fourth on three straight two-out hits and a pair of Illini errors.
The Illini threatened in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out, but failed to score due to an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Reliever Nick Blackburn, who replaced Castellanos in the fourth, threw three scoreless innings before running into his only trouble with a pair of two-out singles in the seventh. Sophomore J.D. Nielsen came in from the bullpen and left runners on the corners with a groundout to third that ended the stanza.
The Orange and Blue went down in order in the top of the eighth followed by a scoreless bottom half by senior Ronnie Muck. In the ninth, junior Michael Hurwitz walked with one out, while junior Chase Hainline pinch-ran and stole second on a strikeout, putting a runner in scoring position with two outs. The Illini were unable to get the tying run home when a fly out to right wrapped up the game.
Game Two Recap // Southern Illinois 3, Illinois 2 | Printable Box Score
The Illini threatened in the ninth with a late rally that came up short. Reid Roper and Hurwitz singled with one out to put runners on the corners. Nagle's sacrifice fly plated the first run but recorded the second out. SIU gave Illinois a second chance on an error by the shortstop that would have been the final out. Freshman Ryne Roper connected on his first hit of the series, cutting it to 3-2 with an RBI single to left. A walk loaded the bases but a groundout to third ended the contest.
Johnson dropped to 2-2 despite only allowing two earned runs in 5.1 innings.
Up Next: Illinois will play its home opener on Tuesday, March 18, at 3 p.m. against Indiana State. Following a schedule change, the first weekend of home baseball at Illinois Field on March 21-23 will now feature four games against Xavier. The Illini will play one game on Friday, March 21, starting at 4 p.m., a doubleheader on Saturday, March 22, beginning at noon and a single game on Sunday, March 23, starting at noon. Admission and parking is free for all home games.
The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics also announced parking changes to begin the year. The grass parking lots surrounding Illinois Field will be closed for the start of the 2014 season due to effects of the winter weather. Fans attending games at Illinois Field should park in either the Northeast State Farm Center quadrant or the parking lot at the Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building (weekend only) with entrance off Fourth Street.