Nick Stockwell kick-started the Illinois offense with a three-run homer, the first of his career, and the Illini went on to defeat Western Michigan 11-4.
April 3, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Lars Davis, Ryan Hastings and Nick Stockwell all homered to pace Illinois in an 11-4 win over Western Michigan. Davis finished a triple shy of the cycle in his four-hit day, Stockwell got the Illini offense going with a three-run bomb in the second inning and Hastings led off the fourth with a solo shot. Ryan Snowden also extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a 3-for-4 day that included two doubles.
After Illini starter Billy Barrett gave up a two-out homer to Bronco first baseman Brett Newsome in the second inning, Illinois fought back in the bottom half. Shortstop Shawn Roof reached on an error by the shortstop and stole second. One out later, DH Dominic Altobelli walked and, after Hastings moved Roof to third with a flyout to center, centerfielder Nick Stockwell crushed an 0-2 pitch for his first career home run, driving in three with his shot to left-center and giving the Illini a 3-1 lead.
Illinois (10-11 overall) added to its lead in the third when Davis cracked a one-out double off the wall down the right-field line then scored on rightfielder Daniel Webb's single through the right side. Barrett gave up a two-run shot to WMU second baseman Brent Gerlach in the fourth, cutting the Illini lead to 4-3. But Hastings crushed a 2-0 pitch to right-center for his third homer of the year to lead off the fourth, pushing the Illinois advantage back to 5-3.
In the fifth, Davis led off with a base hit and advanced to second on a bad pick-off throw. Webb moved him to third with a groundout to the right side and Roof's sacrifice fly to the left-center field gap made the score 6-3. Illini reliever Omar Kadir worked a perfect fifth inning and gave up just one hit in the sixth, and Illinois added another tally in the bottom half when Altobelli legged out an infield single and Hastings singled to center. Following a double-steal and an out, Snowden singled through the left side, driving in Hastings for a 7-3 lead.
Illinois lefthander Jonathan Smiley entered in the seventh and struck out the first hitter he faced. He then gave up a double to the gap in right-center, but the runner was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple on a relay from Stockwell to Roof to Wikoff. A tapper back to the mound and Smiley was out of the inning. In the bottom half, Davis led off with a single to left-center and Webb singled through the left side. Roof grounded into a double play, and first baseman Mike Giller was hit by a pitch. Altobelli reached when the third baseman let a grounder go through his legs, scoring Davis for an 8-3 advantage.
The Broncos (8-15) put up a run in the eighth on a lead-off homer off Illini reliever Brian Long, but the Orange and Blue offense more than made up for it in the bottom half. Stockwell singled through the right side to lead off and Snowden drove him in with a double to right field. One out later, Davis blasted his sixth homer of the year to center field, plating Snowden and bumping the lead to 11-4.
Illini closer Jake Toohey walked two hitters to start the ninth but settled down, inducing a flyout, a fielder's choice groundout and a pop-up to Roof at short to end the game.
Offensively, Davis led the charge, going 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, four runs and two RBI. Snowden was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and a run, and Stockwell went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and two runs in a spot start in center. Hastings and Webb also went 2-for-4, Hastings with a solo homer and a steal, and Webb with a steal and a run.
Kadir earned the victory out of the pen, giving up just two hits in 2 1/3 scoreless innings of work.
Up Next: Illinois hosts Ohio State in a Big Ten weekend series starting with a 6:05 p.m. first pitch on Friday. Saturday's doubleheader start time has been moved to 1:05 p.m. because of the forecasted cold weather, and Sunday's game also will begin at 1:05 p.m.