Sat May 17: Illini pitcher passes test at tourney
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – If only his finals were as easy.
University of Illinois pitcher Brett Weber shut down Purdue on Friday in the Big Ten baseball tournament, racking up 10 strikeouts in leading the Illini to an 8-3 victory.
With the victory, Illinois, 32-26, gets another crack at Michigan at 12:30 p.m. today.
Weber, 5-4, allowed five hits in pitching all nine innings. The Boilermakers, 30-25, didn't score until the fourth inning and added their final two runs in the eighth. By then, Aaron Nieckula's three-run homer in the seventh had given the Illini an 8-1 lead.
"Brett was awesome today," Illinois coach Itch Jones said.
Weber's reward? Studying for three Monday finals in geography, psychology and sociology.
"It's a lot easier to study when you win," Weber said.
Keeping Purdue off balance by mixing a fastball and change-up, with an occasional split-finger fastball thrown in for good measure, Weber made sure the UI's season didn't end.
"He went out and gave us a ballgame," Jones said, "and all we had to do was get him a few runs."
Every Illinois starter had a hit. Shortstop Jon Anderson, batting ninth, was the only player with two.
Top-seeded Michigan lost to Ohio State 9-2.
The loser of the UI-Michigan game is eliminated. The winner must beat Ohio State twice to earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
"In my opinion, I think the momentum is going our way because we're coming off a win," Jones said.