Illini Win Series Opener at No. 15 Indiana

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illinois baseball team held off No. 15 Indiana for a 3-2 win Friday at Bart Kaufman Field.

Illinois (25-12, 10-3 Big Ten) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win its 10th Big Ten game of the season. The Illini pitching staff kept the ball down all night, getting 17 ground ball outs, nine strikeouts and zero flyouts.

Indiana (29-10, 7-5 Big Ten) did not hit a ball in the air until what should have been the last batter of the game. Pinch hitter Luke Miller popped up but center fielder Zac Taylor could not see the ball and it fell for a double. Closer Joey Gerber struck out the next batter on three pitches for his third strikeout of the inning and his 13th save of the season.

Illinois scored single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings to come from behind to beat the Hoosiers. Taylor had the go-ahead RBI on a single in the seventh, Bren Spillane tied the game with an RBI double in the sixth and Michael Massey started the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth.

Ben Troike scored two of the Illini’s runs. Troike went 2-for-4 to extend his reached base streak to 42 games, tied for the third longest active streak in the nation.

After giving up two runs on soft hits in the first inning, starter Andy Fisher (4-1) retired 14 of the next 16 batters. Fisher threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, to earn the win.

Ryan Thompson got a double-play ball to end the seventh and threw a scoreless eighth before giving way to Gerber.

Indiana starter Jonathan Stiever (5-2) was the tough-luck loser after allowing three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Stiever was nearly untouchable the first time through the lineup, striking out six of the first eight batters on his way to nine strikeouts.

The teams return Saturday for Game 2 of the three-game set.

Notes

  • Illinois is 9-2 in one-run games.
    • Ben Troikeextended his career-long reached base streak to 42 games, tied for the third longest active streak in the nation.
    • Bren Spillane extended his hitting streak to seven games.