Illini Falter against Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament, 3-1
May 24, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Illinois scored first at Target Field, but Minnesota plated three runs with two outs in the fourth and knocked the Illini out of the Big Ten Tournament. UI dropped Friday's game 3-1, falling for the second time to the Gophers in the tournament. Illinois finished 1-2 at the event and dropped to 34-18 overall.
"It was a tough game," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We pitched extremely well and played well defensively, but just hit a bunch of bullets right at their defenders. We couldn't come up with the two-out hits when we needed them."
Illinois jumped on the board first for the third day in a row, capitalizing on an error in the second. Sophomore David Kerian reached second on the two-base throwing error by shortstop Michael Handel. After a fly out put two outs on the board, senior Davis Hendrickson drove in Kerian with a single to left.
The Gophers did all of their scoring in the fourth inning, collecting three runs on five hits, including three two-out RBI singles. Freshman starter Ryan Castellanos (3-2), who allowed three runs and fanned three over five innings, suffered his second loss of the season.
The Illini bullpen only gave up one hit over the final three innings, but UI's offense came up empty down the stretch. Freshman Tyler Jay worked a scoreless sixth, while redshirt-sophomore Drasen Johnson got three groundouts in the seventh on six pitches. Johnson also pitched the eighth, where the Illini turned their third double play of the day after a leadoff single.
UI had a chance to tie it in the seventh, but left runners on second and third when a line out ended it. Junior Thomas Lindauer went 1-for-4 and extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games by leading off the afternoon with a single. Hendrickson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and redshirt-sophomore Kelly Norris-Jones was 2-for-3.
"It's disappointing, but we hope to live another day," Hartleb said. "I feel we truly deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament."
Illinois will await its postseason chances, which will be announced on Monday at 11 a.m. during the NCAA Championship Selection show.