The Illinois baseball pitching staff came through in a huge win over No. 21 Texas A&M on Friday afternoon.
I wrote an article on Thursday about how the team is gelling with so many new pieces added. I also mentioned that this Illini pitching staff is going to have to be the breadwinner this season. That was on the case against the Aggies as the Fighting Illini won 1-0.
At the plate, Illinois struggled greatly. They only managed four hits on the night. Taylor Jackson was 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Alex Steinbach was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts and two left on base. Cam McDonald was 1-for-3 with one strikeout. But the batter who came through for the Illini was Branden Comia.
Comia came to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with the score tied 0-0. He was 0-for-3 for the game with two strikeouts. But this at-bat was different. Comia hit a single and drove in Jackson for the game-winning run.
While it was a big hit by Comia, the only reason the Illini were in this game was due to their fantastic pitching. Ty Weber took the mound as the starter for the Orange and Blue and tossed a gem. He was great for the entire game.
Weber threw for six and two-thirds innings while only giving up three total hits. That in itself is an impressive feat, especially against the No. 21 team in the country. He also struck out three batters en route to his no-decision.
Illinois’ bullpen was impressive too. Ryan Kutt was the middle relief for the Illini. He pitched one and one-third innings of no-hit baseball with one strikeout. Kutt actually got the win because he was the pitcher who was in the game when Illinois scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
Shutdown closer Garrett Acton was called to action in the ninth inning and performed magically. He closed out the game with no hits and a three up, three down frame.
The Illinois pitching carried them in this game, but we couldn’t have won without that lone run. This was an all-round impressive win. Taking down a top 25 team is something to be proud of. Things don’t get much easier from here, though.
Illinois takes on a borderline top 25 program in Oklahoma State on Saturday. We then finish out the Frisco Classic with No. 10 UCLA on Sunday. As I mentioned in my previous article, this weekend is a trial-by-fire for this new Illini team. I have been impressed so far.