Iowa Drops Opener To Illinois

May 21, 2004


IOWA CITY – A pair of late five-run innings propelled Illinois to an 11-8 victory on Friday night at Duane Banks Field. The Fighting Illini pounded out 17 hits to win their first Friday night game this season.

Illinois knocked Iowa starter Nathan Johnson out of the game by plating five runs in the seventh inning. Johnson retired the side in order in four of the first six innings before getting roughed up. Johnson lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed six runs.

Johnson’s counterpart, Illinois starter Joe Ziemba picked up his third win of the season after pitching 7 2/3 innings of eight hit ball with four strikeouts.

After a one-out seventh inning double by Dusty Bensko, Johnson struck out Ryan Hastings, but the Fighting Illini used four straight singles to tie the game at four. After an intentional walk to Chris Robinson to load the bases, Eric Eyemann hit a two-run single to left field to take the two-run lead. The second run brought a play at the plate. Iowa catcher Kris Welker appeared to block the plate and tag out Illinois runner Chad Frk, but the home plate umpire ruled Frk safe to give the Fighting Illini the 6-4 lead.

Iowa cut the lead in half with one run in the eighth. Jim Reid singled to lead-off the inning and two batters later Jesse Brownell laced a single to left field to put two runners on. Pinch hitter Mike Best lined the first pitch he saw into the right centerfield gap to make the score 6-5. Reliever Brandon Murphy retired Luis Andrulonis on a pop out to short to end the inning and the threat.

Illinois broke the game open with five runs in the ninth inning to take a six-run lead. Eyemann collected his fifth RBI of the game with a bases loaded single up the middle off Iowa reliever Scott Brune.

Iowa cut the lead in half in the ninth inning when Nate Yoho hit a three-run home run over the right field fence to make the score 11-8. The Hawkeyes brought the tying run to the plate after Welker walked and Brownell singled, but Illinois reliever Andy Sigerich struck out Mike Best for his first save of the season.

Illinois came out of the gates swinging in the first inning as three of the first four batters collected singles off Johnson. Ryan Rogowski crossed the plate for the first run of the game on an Eyemann sacrifice fly to centerfield.

The Hawkeyes loaded the bases with nobody out to get things rolling in the third. Andy Lytle drove in Luis Andrulonis to even the score on an infield single and Jim Reid gave Iowa the lead with an RBI single to left field. Nate Yoho plated the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to make the score 3-1.

The Hawkeyes added a run in the fifth inning. Jason White singled through the left side to lead things off and two batters later, Nate Yoho extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-out RBI single up the middle to give Iowa the three-run advantage.

White led the Hawkeyes at the plate going 2-for-3 with three runs scored.

Iowa and Illinois will play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m.

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