May 11, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Illinois closed out a three-game weekend sweep of the University of Iowa baseball team with a 4-2 victory on a rainy Sunday afternoon that included a nearly three-hour rain delay at Duane Banks Field.
The loss drops the Hawkeyes’ record to 27-20 overall and 8-13 in Big Ten action; Illinois improves to 30-17 overall and 16-5 in league play. Iowa heads to Purdue for its final Big Ten series needing one victory to clinch the eighth and final spot into the Big Ten Tournament.
“I told the team this weekend doesn’t define who we are,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “We played fine defensively and our pitchers battled and gave us a chance. When we have a bad weekend hitting against some of the best arms we’ve seen, that’s a bad combination.”
Illinois needed just one pitch to plate the game’s first run, as leadoff hitter Will Krug belted a solo home run over the left field fence on the first pitch of the game by Hawkeye starter Tyler Peyton. The Hawkeyes got the run back in the bottom half of the frame.
Junior Jake Mangler started the inning, reaching on a one-out single before junior Jake Yacinich followed with a walk to put a pair on. Both runners moved up a base on a Jason Goldstein passed ball, and Mangler scored on a Goldstein throwing error, as he airmailed the ball into left field, allowing Mangler to score on a throwing error.
The Illinois catcher made amends in the third inning, when he blasted a two-out, solo home run deep over the left field fence to give Illinois a 2-1 advantage. Iowa plated the game-tying run in the bottom of the fourth, but it missed a golden opportunity for more.
The Hawkeyes loaded the bases with no outs against Illini starter Kevin Duchene via two hit by pitches and a walk. Senior Trevor Kenyon evened the game at two with a sacrifice fly to center field, but Illinois’ reliever Nick Blackburn got out of the jam by getting Kris Goodman to ground into an inning-ending 5-3 double play.
Illinois scored the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth against UI reliever Andrew Hedrick. Goldstein singled and Reid Roper was plunked to start the inning, before Iowa went to junior Nick Hibbing. After both runners moved up a base on a one-out passed ball, Ryne Roper plated the third run with an RBI groundout on a tailor-made ball that would have been an inning-ending double play.
The Illini added an insurance run in the sixth on a Kelly Norris-Jones sacrifice fly, scoring Krug who reached on a one-out standup triple into the left centerfield gap.
Both teams traded goose eggs before Mother Nature put a halt to the game for two hours and fifty-five minutes with one on and one out in the top of the ninth. Sophomore Jared Mandel got the final two outs before Illinois closer Tyler Jay pitched around a two-out error in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his ninth save and complete the three-game sweep.
Hedrick (4-4) suffered the loss, allowing one unearned run on two hits in one inning. Peyton allowed two runs on five hits over three innings before re-aggravating lat muscle strain. Hibbing allowed one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings, and sophomore Tyler Radtke allowed a single hit over three innings with two strikeouts.
The Hawkeyes finished with six hits in the game, four coming from Yacinich and Goodman. Yacinich was 2-for-3 to tally his 20th multi-hit game this season, while Goodman was 2-for-4.
Illinois reliever Nick Blackburn (1-1) picked up the victory, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings. Rob McDonnell, Ronnie Muck and Jay closed out the game with six scoreless inning, surrendering three hits.
Iowa heads to West Lafayette, Indiana, for a three-game series at Purdue from May 22-24. Thursday’s series opener is slated for a 5:30 p.m. (CT) start.
|Illinois 4, Iowa 2||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Illinois (30-17, 16-5)||1||0||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||4||11||2|
|Iowa (27-20, 8-13)||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||6||0|
|W: Blackburn (ILL) 1-1|
|L: Hedrick (IOWA) 4-4|
|S: Jay (ILL) 9|