Illini Top Eastern Kentucky, 9-3
March 22, 2003
Bradenton, Fla. - The University of Illinois baseball team topped Eastern Kentucky University, 9-3, this afternoon at the IMG Baseball Facilities in Bradenton, Fla. With the win Illinois improves to 8-2 on the season and 2-0 on its Spring Break trip.
Illini third baseman Dusty Bensko provided the fireworks, putting together a 3-for-4 day that came up a triple short of the cycle and included his first career home run which came in the top of the second inning and tied the game at 1.
Illinois opened the game in a hole as Illini starter Jimmy Conroy gave up a lead-off double in the bottom of the first to EKU's centerfielder, who eventually came home to score on a wild pitch.
After Bensko tied the game in the top of the second, Illinois opened a commanding lead by adding three more runs in the inning, coming via Eric Eymann and Sean Patrick run-scoring singles and a sacrifice fly off the bat of right fielder Joe Parenti.
Illinois added single runs in the third and fourth innings on an RBI single from Brandon Cashman and a wild pitch that scored T.F. Meagher and opened up a 6-1 lead after four innings. The lead grew by two more in the fifth when Trevor Frederickson drew a one-out walk and Eric Eymann followed with a triple to the center field fence that scored Frederickson. Patrick followed with a single of his own that scored Eymann from third and opened an 8-1 lead.
Illinois took that lead into the eighth inning when a pair of errors led to two unearned runs that brought EKU within five runs to 8-3. Illinois opened up the final margin of victory in the top of the ninth inning when Frederickson led off with a double to right, went to third on an Eric Eymann single and scored on a wild pitch.
Conroy (1-0) earned the win after throwing six complete innings and allowing only one run on five hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Offensively, Bensko finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Eymann was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and two RBI.
Illinois continues action on the Spring Trip with a three-game non-conference series against Ohio State with single games Sunday-Tuesday at noon each day.