Illini Hold On For 3-2 Win over EIU

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Published on April 23 2014 5:02 pm
Last Updated on April 23 2014 5:02 pm
Written by Millie Lange

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.  – Eastern Illinois got back-to-back singles to start the top of the ninth inning before Illinois closer Tyler Jay settled down to retire the next three batters as the Fighting Illini held on for a 3-2 win on Tuesday night at Illinois Field.

Demetre Taylor and Brant Valach led off the top of the ninth inning with singles before a force out at third base on a failed sacrifice bunt recorded the first out. Jay struck out the final two batters to end the contest as the sophomore pitcher recorded his sixth save of the season.

“We played a good, clean game on defense and were able to get some guys out stealing bases,” said Panther head coach Jim Schmitz. “Unfortunately, if you only score two runs you can’t win many games.”

The Panthers (12-28) got on the scoreboard in the first inning with a Taylor RBI ground out before the Illini (22-14) knotted the game at one in the bottom of the frame on a two-out RBI double by Jason Goldstein.

Illinois scored two runs on two hits in the third inning to make the score 3-1. EIU scored its final run on a Tyler Schweigert sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to get within one (3-2).

Illinois had five more hits (10-5) than EIU and left two more runners on base (7-5). Neither committed an error in the contest.

Caleb Howell led the Panther offense, going 2-for-4 with one run. Goldstein led the Illini at the plate as the sophomore catcher/designated hitter went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Will Krug added two hits and a run for Illinois.

Stewardson-Strasburg graduate Jaden Widdersheim (2-3) took the loss for EIU, allowing three hits and three runs in 2.2 innings of work. The Panthers used four relief pitchers that combined to walk two batters and throw one strikeout in 5.1 scoreless innings.

Rob McDonnell (3-0) earned the win for Illinois as the junior pitcher threw four strikeouts and issued two walks in five innings of work. He also surrendered two hits and two runs.

The Panthers return to action on April 25-27 in a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series against Belmont. Game one is slated for 3 p.m. from Coaches Stadium.