Offense Stymied in 4-0 Loss to Sycamores
March 27, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Leftfielder Ryan Snowden went 3-for-4, but it was the one that didn't fall in that swung the momentum in Indiana State's favor as the Sycamores shut out the Illini, 4-0, in front of 1,060 fans, the largest crowd for an Illinois Field opener. The crowd topped last year's 1,012 figure in the home opener against Purdue on March 31. It was the first time the Illini had been shut out since they lost 2-0 at Indiana on May 14, 2006.
Fresh off a career outing last week against Massachusetts, Illinois starting pitcher Aaron Martin struggled to find his control in the first inning, giving up a lead-off walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with one out. But Martin induced two consecutive groundouts to second base, surrendering just one run in falling behind 1-0.
In the second, the Sycamores threatened again after a lead-off single and a passed ball that allowed the runner to move to second. A groundout moved the runner to third, then ISU catcher Sean Osborne lifted a fly ball to right field. Illini rightfielder Daniel Webb camped under it and fired a rocket to home to get the runner trying to score from third, keeping the margin at 1-0.
But the Sycamores added a run in the third after a bunt single, a botched pick-off attempt and an RBI double for a 2-0 lead. The Illini looked to be on the comeback trail in the bottom half when second baseman Ryan Hastings lined a single to left-center and centerfielder Joe Bonadonna laid down a beautiful bunt single between the pitcher and the third baseman to put runners on first and second with no outs. Snowden then lifted a 2-2 changeup to the wall in left-center, but ISU leftfielder Josh Abercrombie ran into the gap and jumped up against the wall, snaring the ball for the first out of the inning just before it cleared the fence. Sycamore hurler Josh Varno retired the next two hitters and preserved his 2-0 lead.
Both pitchers settled down and the teams traded goose-eggs through the seventh before ISU scratched across a run off Illini reliever Brian Long in the eighth. Abercrombie walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter dropped a bloop single down the left-field line to drive him in and push the margin to 3-0. ISU added another run in the ninth when third baseman Brett Siegmund knocked a solo homer off Illini reliever Jake Toohey for the final 4-0 margin.
Snowden's 3-for-4 outing extended his hitting streak to a career-best 14-game string and catcher Lars Davis pushed his streak to nine games with his 1-for-4 performance. Hastings and first baseman Mike Rohde both increased their streaks to six games.
Martin finished the game with a solid line of six innings pitched, five hits, two runs, one earned run, one walk and three strikeouts but took the hard-luck loss. Omar Kadir pitched a scoreless seventh, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Up Next: Illinois visits West Lafayette, Ind., for a Big Ten-opening series against Purdue. The Boilermakers currently hold a 9-8 record but face Ball State in a Wednesday contest. The Illini and Boilers begin the series with a Friday matinee as first pitch is set for 2 p.m. (CT).