Illini Sweep Double-Dip from Gophers

Daniel Webb homered twice in game one and finished the day 5-for-8 with five RBIs, two runs, two homers and a double to lift Illinois to a doubleheader sweep against Minnesota.
Daniel Webb homered twice in game one and finished the day 5-for-8 with five RBIs, two runs, two homers and a double to lift Illinois to a doubleheader sweep against Minnesota.

April 19, 2008

Box Score

MINNEAPOLIS - Illinois put up 22 runs on 26 hits and got solid outings from starting pitchers Kevin Manson and Scott Shaw as the Illini swept a doubleheader from Minnesota by scores of 15-2 and 7-3, Illinois' second doubleheader sweep this season. Daniel Webb homered twice and drove in five runs, and Kyle Hudson was on base eight times as the Illini improved to 20-13 overall, 8-6 in the Big Ten.

"We played very well in all aspects of the game," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "We scored early in both games and then kept putting pressure on them, and our starting pitching was very good and Mike Sterk was outstanding in the second game."

In game one, Minnesota jumped ahead with a run in the bottom of the first after a base hit, a balk, an error and an RBI single by third baseman Nate Hanson, but Illinois exploded with a five-run second inning. First baseman Ryan Hastings drew a lead-off walk and Webb ripped a two-run homer to the right-field corner to give the Illini a 2-1 lead. One out later, right fielder Craig Lutes restarted the inning with a base hit and left fielder Casey McMurray singled. Hudson singled to load the bases and Lutes scored on second baseman Joe Bonadonna's sacrifice fly. Shortstop Brandon Wikoff walked to reload the bases and third baseman Dominic Altobelli laced a two-run single down the right-field line to push the lead to 5-1.

In the third, Webb led off the inning with a bomb to right-center field, his first career multi-homer game and first by an Illini since Lars Davis hit two dingers against Michigan State on May 20, 2007. Illinois tacked on two more runs in the fourth when Wikoff reached on an error and stole second after Minnesota brought in reliever Tyler Oakes. Altobelli and Hastings both walked to load the bases and Wikoff scored when Webb grounded into a double play. Altobelli came home on a wild pitch to make the score 8-1.

The Fighting Illini added four more runs in the fifth when Lutes led off with a single and moved to third on Hudson's one-out double. Bonadonna walked and Wikoff drove in two with a double to right field. Altobelli brought in Bonadonna with a sacrifice fly and Hastings drove in Wikoff with a single to right-center, making the Illinois lead 12-1.

Minnesota got a run back with a solo homer by catcher Jeff DeSmidt in the sixth, but Kevin Manson settled down and pitched well through the seventh and eighth innings, allowing just one baserunner in those two frames. Manson finished with a career-best outing, going eight innings and allowing just two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out three. The Illini added three in the seventh when Wikoff ripped a one-out double and moved to third on Bonadonna's single. Hastings walked to load the bases and Wikoff scored on a passed ball. Webb walked to reload the bases and Johnson walked, driving in Altobelli. Lutes drove in Hastings with a ground ball, making the score 15-2.

Offensively, Altobelli went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs, and Wikoff was 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs. Hudson added a 2-for-5 effort with two walks, two runs and a steal.

In the nightcap, Illinois jumped ahead early with two runs in the first inning, thanks to two hits, three walks and a hit batter. Hudson led off with a bunt base hit and stole second. Bonadonna singled, moving Hudson to third, but was picked off first base. One out later, Altobelli was hit by a pitch and Hastings walked to load the bases. Webb walked to force in a run and catcher Aaron Johnson drew the third-straight walk in the inning to drive in another run and post the Illini to a 2-0 lead.

Illinois added two more in the fourth when Johnson led off with a solo blast to left, his second of the season. Two outs later, Hudson was hit by a pitch then stole second and swiped third as Bonadonna walked. He stole second and Wikoff walked, then Altobelli drove in Hudson when he was plunked, pushing the Illini ahead, 4-0.

But Minnesota scored three runs in the fifth when starter Scott Shaw got injured on the delivery of a pitch and had to be replaced by Mike Stankiewicz. Stankiewicz walked one and gave up two hits before being replaced by Mike Sterk, who worked out of the inning, but not before the Gophers cut the Illinois lead to one run at 4-3.

The Orange and Blue fought back, though, scoring three in the sixth inning on three hits, an error and a hit batter. McMurray led off with a single and Hudson singled, then Bonadonna loaded the bases by reaching when the third baseman made a poor throw on a sacrifice bunt attempt. One out later, Altobelli was hit by a pitch for the third time in the game, driving in pinch runner Nick Stockwell. Hastings drove home Hudson with a sacrifice fly and Bonadonna scored on Webb's two-out double to center, pushing the lead to 7-3.

Sterk continued to pitch well, inducing an inning-ending double play in the sixth after giving up a lead-off single, then working a 1-2-3 seventh to notch his second save of the season and increase his streak of innings without allowing an earned run to 13. He needed just four pitches in the sixth inning and seven in the seventh, throwing 17 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, 15 for strikes.

Offensively, Hudson was 3-for-4 with three steals and three runs, and Webb was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. McMurray also went 2-for-3, and Altobelli and Johnson each drove in a pair of runs.

Up Next: Illinois and Minnesota finish their series Sunday with a doubleheader beginning at 11:05 a.m. Freshman Phil Haig will take the ball for the Illini in game one and junior Aaron Martin will start the second game, a nine-inning affair.