Tanner Roark moved to 4-0 in the Big Ten, earning the win in Illinois' 10-5 victory over Minnesota
April 27, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tanner Roark got a number of outs in key situations and the Illini offense took advantage of an uncharacteristic five-error night by the Minnesota defense in beating the Golden Gophers 10-5 in front of a season-high 1,166 fans at Illinois Field. Catcher Lars Davis was 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and second baseman Ryan Hastings went 2-for-4 with a double and a run to lead the attack. The win improves Illinois' record to 5-0 in Big Ten series openers and 20-17 overall, 8-7 in the Big Ten.
"Tanner wasn't as sharp tonight as he has been in his last two starts, but he pitched well and let the offense take over," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "We were able to take the pressure off him with our offense, which is always nice to be able to do."
Illinois led off the game with a three-spot in the first inning. Leftfielder Ryan Snowden started with a lead-off double off the wall in left, missing a homer by just a few feet, and he moved to third on a groundout. Snowden then scored when catcher Lars Davis reached on an error by Gopher first baseman Bryan Jost. Illini first baseman Mike Rohde then shot a hit-and-run double into the left-center gap, bringing Davis around to score from first. DH Daniel Webb followed with a double to the left-center gap that scored Rohde and gave the Illini a 3-0 lead after an inning.
Minnesota got two runs back in the third, though, with a lead-off double that eventually scored on a double-play ball. The Gophers then sandwiched two singles around a walk to cut the Illinois lead to 3-2. Then, in the fourth, Minnesota tied the game when Jost deposited a 2-2 changeup over the right-field fence for a solo homer, making the score 3-3.
But Illinois jumped back ahead with three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Hastings started by knocking a one-out single and stealing second. Rightfielder Nick Stockwell beat out an infield single, moving Hastings to third before he scored on a wild throw to first by Jost on Stockwell's softly-hit grounder. Centerfielder Kyle Hudson walked and Snowden moved both runners up a base with a deep flyout to center. Third baseman Brandon Wikoff reached on a fielding error by shortstop Dan Lyons, scoring Stockwell, and Davis laced a single through the right side, driving home Hudson for a 6-3 lead.
"Minnesota is one of the best fielding teams in the conference, so tonight was very uncharacteristic for them," Hartleb said. "But we have good team speed and I think that pressured them into at least a few of the errors."
Minnesota got two runs back in the fifth when Wikoff couldn't handle a two-out grounder from Nate Hanson, allowing a pair of runs to score and cut the Illinois lead to 6-5. But the Illini added four more in the bottom of the sixth on just two hits thanks to a pair of walks and two more Gopher errors. Hudson and Snowden walked to start the inning and Wikoff reached on a throwing error by the third baseman when he attempted to sacrifice the runners over, allowing Hudson to score. Davis then singled to center, driving in Snowden. Rohde reached on a fielder's choice when Jost's throw to second was wide of the bag, letting Wikoff score. Webb's flyout moved Davis to third and Rohde stole second before Davis scored on an RBI groundout by Roof that made the Illinois lead 10-5.
It was lights-out for the Gophers from there as Roark worked around a catcher's interference and an infield hit in the seventh to finish with seven innings pitched on the night, giving up five runs - three earned - on 10 hits and a walk with two strikeouts. He is now 4-0 in Big Ten play.
Omar Kadir entered in relief and gave up just one hit in two innings of work, striking out two. He retired Minnesota in order in the ninth, finishing the game with a strikeout and two groundouts. Minnesota managed just three base-runners in the final three innings, also out of character for a team that has 12 comeback wins on the season.
Offensively, Snowden also went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs, and Rohde was 1-for-5 with a double, two RBI and a run.
Up Next: The same teams square off in a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 3:05 p.m. Saturday is Little League Day at Illinois Field, meaning kids get in free if they wear their little league uniform. In addition, Illinois Baseball alumni who are at Saturday's games will be recognized between games of the doubleheader.