Illini Nab Fourth Straight with 3-2 Win over EIU

Starter Rob McDonnell improved to 3-0 with two hits and two runs allowed in five innings.
Starter Rob McDonnell improved to 3-0 with two hits and two runs allowed in five innings.

April 22, 2014

Box Score | Printable Box Score | Hartleb Interview

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois picked up its fourth straight win behind a strong pitching performance in a 3-2 victory over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday. Starter Rob McDonnell improved to 3-0 with two hits and two runs allowed in five innings, redshirt-sophomore Andrew Mamlic gave up one hit in three shutout stanzas and closer Tyler Jay registered his sixth save after surrendering two hits in the ninth.

"It was a solid game," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We pitched well on the mound and were good defensively. We also moved runners and did a few of the little things at the plate to get the win tonight."

Illinois improved to 22-14 overall and 7-6 in one-run games. Sophomore Jason Goldstein went 1-for-4 with two RBI and sophomore Adam Walton extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games, equaling Thomas Lindauer for the longest streak since Justin Parr's 33-game mark in 2013.

EIU got on the board in the opening frame with an RBI groundout, grabbing a 1-0 lead. Goldstein continued his midweek hot hitting with an RBI double in the bottom of the first to tie it at one. Junior David Kerian walked, stole second and scored on the double down the line.

A pair of Illini runs came home in the third, giving UI a 3-1 advantage. Redshirt-junior Kelly Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch and Krug legged out a single before Walton smacked a ground-rule double over the right field wall. Goldstein brought home his second run of the game with an RBI groundout.

The Panthers got within one at 3-2 on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but they would not score again. McDonnell wrapped up his outing with a scoreless fifth and was relieved by Mamlic, who worked a perfect sixth inning on six pitches. The Wheaton, Ill., native followed it with a 1-2-3 seventh on 12 pitches.

"Andrew was good for the second time in a row," Hartleb said. "He was throwing with good angle and was aggressive. I'm really pleased with the progress he has made."

The Illini loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to push a run home. EIU collected its third hit in the eighth, but Mamlic posted the fourth straight zero. EIU started the ninth with back-to-back singles, but Jay recorded the first out at third on a failed sacrifice bunt and struck out the next two hitters to end the game with the tying run stranded at second base.

Illinois' pitchers recorded 10 strikeouts, two walks and five hits at Illinois Field. McDonnell and Mamlic each had four punch outs and Jay finished with the final two.

"The key to a lot of our success this year is the fact that we don't walk very many people," Hartleb said. "We don't give people free passes, so we make them earn their way on base, which makes it tough to score."

Up Next: Illinois will head to St. Louis, Mo., to face Missouri on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals.