Illini Drop 12-10 Slugfest to Western Michigan
April 5, 2005
Champaign, Ill. - The Fighting Illini bats came alive Tuesday night, but pitching and defense, two of their strengths up to this point, failed them as Western Michigan came from behind to pick-up a 12-10 win at Illinois Field. The loss snapped Illinois' (14-6-1) seven-game winning-streak and was the first at home for the Orange and Blue, who are now 5-1 at Illinois Field this season.
Western Michigan took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but Illinois bounced back with two in the bottom of the first, thanks in part to a home run by centerfielder Ryan Rogowski. After the Illini took a brief 3-2 lead in the second on an RBI double by second baseman J.R. Kyes, WMU stormed back with four runs on just two hits in the top of the third. Three walks by Illini pitchers and a throwing error by centerfielder Ryan Rogowski allowed the Broncos to take the 6-3 lead.
The Illini again came back though, with three runs in the bottom of the third to tie the score at 6-6. Dusty Bensko got the inning started with a one-out single, followed by a Drew Davidson 2-run HR deep down the leftfield line. Mike Rohde then tripled and was driven in by a Trevor Huisinga sacrifice fly to even up the score.
Illini built a 9-6 lead after scoring two in the fifth and getting a solo home run in the sixth from Kyes, but Western Michigan scored three in both the seventh and eighth innings, the last two on a costly two-out fielding error by third baseman Chad Frk, to take the lead for good. Illinois threatened in the ninth, putting runners on first and second with two-out, but Kyes stuck-out looking to end the game.
The Illini used five pitchers on the night who combined to allow 10 hits and 10 walks, but they didn't get much help behind them as four Illinois errors proved costly. Starter Andy Sigerich was shelled to the tune of five earned runs on three hits and four walks in just two-plus innings of work. Sophomore southpaw Aaron Saving tossed four innings of one-hit ball while the Illini built their lead, but did allow five walks. Junior right-hander Joel Barickman gave up four hits and three runs (one earned) in one inning of work to get the loss (1-3).
"Our pitching wasn't very sharp at all," said Illini Head Coach Itch Jones. "We gave up too many bases on balls and we let the game get away with poor defense. It just wasn't a well-played ballgame. We're using some different pitchers here in the middle of the week and giving some guys a chance to show they can help us on the weekends."
WMU's Brian Kross picked up the win to improve to 1-1, while Derek Schlecker pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless ball to pick-up the save.
Illinois and WMU (10-11) will finish-off their mid-week two-game series on Wednesday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. at Illinois field.