Drew Davidson celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk-off 2-run HR to give the Illini a 6-4 over Ohio State Sunday afternoon at Illinois Field. (Photo by Jim Davidson for the-Ozone.net)
April 3, 2005
Champaign, Ill. - Illinois got a two-run walk-off home run from centerfielder Drew Davidson to defeat Ohio State 6-4 and sweep its first Big Ten series since the Illini took all four at Northwestern on March 31-April 2, 2000. Illinois improves to 14-5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State drops to 13-8 overall and 0-4 in conference action.
Tied 4-4 into the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Ryan Rogowski singled to left-center with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Then Davidson, on a 1-1 count, hit a hanging slider over the wall in right-center to give the Illini the 6-4 victory. The dramatic HR capped a 4-4 day at the plate for Davidson, which included four RBI, two runs and a stolen base.
"I knew he was going to stay away with sliders, try to get me to chase something or put me on to set up the double play," Davidson said. "The first one was way outside, the second one he caught the corner with and the third one started over the inside and came over the middle. I just went with it to right-center."
The weekend marked Illinois' first Big Ten series sweep at Illinois Field since it pulled out the brooms against Purdue, May 15-17, 1999, and the first time Illinois has opened the Big Ten series 4-0 since it took all four from Michigan State to begin the 1999 conference season.
Jake Toohey earned the win with four sparkling innings of shutout relief, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out two. The redshirt sophomore improved to 1-0 on the season with a 0.89 ERA in 20 1/3 innings of relief. He has allowed only two earned runs on 14 hits and six walks while striking out 18.
The Illini once again scored in the first inning, as second baseman J.R. Kyes walked and moved to second on a Rogowski groundout. Davidson then drove him in with a single to right and advanced to second on the throw home. Davidson stole third and scored on first baseman Dusty Bensko's single to left to take an early 2-0 lead. Illinois added a run in the third, but Ohio State scored one run apiece in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-3 lead. However, the Illini recovered with a run in the sixth to tie the game 4-4.
"It was a dramatic finish, and it's been a long time since we've had a walk-off home run in our own ballpark," said Illinois coach Richard "Itch" Jones. "It was good to see Davidson complete the day 4-for-4 and get the winning home run."
The Illini take a seven-game winning streak, the team's longest since a 10-game streak in 2002, into a two-game midweek series with Western Michigan at Illinois Field, Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. and Wednesday at 2:05 p.m. Illinois will then travel to Michigan State next weekend, April 8-10, for a four-game Big Ten series.