The Illinois baseball team continued to play well with a series win over Elon this past weekend.
Illinois was coming off a high-scoring win over Chicago State last Tuesday, so they needed to parlay that victory into a couple of wins over Elon. Game one against Elon didn’t go as planned, though.
Ty Weber led the Illini in game one of the series. He wasn’t on-point giving up 6 hits, 3 runs and 2 earned runs in three innings of work. Illinois went to three different relievers after Weber who gave up a combined 10 hits, 7 runs and 7 earned runs in five innings.
In a surprise, Illinois’ hitting came through in game one. Cam McDonald had a two-run double in the fourth inning. Four other Illini batters had an RBI as well, but Illinois’ six runs weren’t enough to combat Elon’s 10 runs in game one.
Games two and three were a different story, though. Cole Kirschsieper took the mound for the Illini in game two and pitched a gem. He only gave up 4 hits and 3 walks in 6.2 innings. Ryan Schmitt threw 2.1 innings of relief, only giving up one earned run in that span.
The Illini hitting didn’t need to do much in game two. Jacob Campbell, Brody Harding and Cam McDonald all had two-hit games. Braden Comia drove in two runs on a ninth inning double. A great hitting and pitching game two by Illinois led to a 6-1 victory.
Game three was a tighter battle for the Illini. Starter Aidan Maldonado had his best outing of the season only giving up one earned run in 5.1 innings. His previous two starts consisted of two losses and him giving up a combined 10 earned runs. Sadly, the middle relief for the Illini gave up the bulk of the runs. Overall, the Illini relief surrendered 5 earned runs and 5 walks in 3.2 innings pitched.
Kellen Sarver had one of his best games of the season in game three. He went 2-for-3 with 1 run and 3 RBI. Taylor Jackson, Brody Harding and Nick Menken all added an RBI to the total too. With Illinois’ solid hitting, they were able to come away with the game-three win, 8-7.
There are a couple of thoughts from this 2-1 series win over Elon. The first thought being the hitting is improving. It feels like we are starting to hit the ball from top to bottom of the lineup. Another point is the middle relief needs to improve greatly. Illinois’ starting pitching isn’t the problem. Once we get past our starters, the middle relief has been killing us.
The goal for the Illini right now should be to win every series. This will start adding up to a great record. We are 8-5 on the season and the sky is the limit for this team. I don’t think we are far away from being one of the best clubs in the nation.