On Thursday, the Illinois Fighting Illini were able to stave off elimination and defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes, 6-5, in the Big Ten Tournament.
Illinois never trailed on Thursday and their bats seemed to much more alive compared to Wednesday’s opening round game.
The Illini jumped out to a 4-0 lead by scoring two runs in both the first and fifth innings. However, the Buckeyes were able to tie the game with one run in the fifth and three runs in the sixth.
The “game winning” runs for the Orange & Blue came in the seventh inning. The Illini scored two runs in the inning off of two Buckeye errors.
Illinois also got a strong outing from their starting pitcher Kevin Duchene on Thursday. Duchene lasted 6.0 innings where he gave up five runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out three Ohio State batters.
Illini head coach Dan Hartleb had this to say following the game:
“Kevin gave us a good start. He wasn’t as sharp as he has been in the past, but he came out and competed. We were solid on the mound, but made a couple mistakes defensively that put us in jams and made the game tight. Nick got a couple of key outs and Tyler got the big strikeout to end the seventh and then cruised in the eighth and ninth.”
The Fighting Illini will try to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive on Friday in a rematch against Michigan State. The game will start at 3:30 p.m. (CST) and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.