Men's tennis team on brink of title
EVANSTON — The Illinois men's tennis team dominated Michigan in Saturday's Big Ten semifinals, winning 4-0.
And their prize? Another match with Ohio State, the six-time defending Big Ten champions.
Top-seeded Ohio State is 31-2 and ranked third nationally. The Buckeyes own a 92-match winning streak in the Big Ten.
Illinois hasn't dropped a match in reaching the finals. Brad Dancer's team beat host Northwestern in Friday's quarterfinal match.
"I'm proud of my guys," Dancer said. "We've talked immensely about how we need to bring our game to the opponents and make a change in the way we perceive ourselves. I don't think we're completely there yet, but I think we're improving."
In women's tennis:
Illinois is 12-2 in its last 14 matches. And both losses came to Michigan, including Saturday's 4-0 decision in the Big Ten tournament semifinals at Columbus, Ohio.
"We are obviously bummed, but at the same time there is a lot to be proud of about this team and our efforts across the board," Illinois coach Michelle Dasso said. "We will anxiously wait for our NCAA draw and look forward to making a run in the tournament."
In women's golf:
After a second-round 300, Illinois trails first place Ohio State by 14 strokes in the Big Ten Championships at French Lick, Ind.
Nora Lucas leads the Illini and is in sixth place overall after a second-round 75. She trails the leader, Michigan State's Lindsey Solberg, by 4 shots.
Illinois senior Hailey Koschmann shot a second-round 70 and is tied for 10th, 5 shots behind the leader.
"We gave ourselves a number of birdie opportunities, but unfortunately just didn't capitalize on a number of them," Illinois coach Renee Slone said.
Illinois pitcher John Kravetz picked up his seventh victory of the season, the most by an Illini freshman, with a 5-4 win at Northwestern. Ronnie Muck pitched three scoreless innings for the Illini, earning his third save.
"When Ronnie came in, he did a great job of minimizing the damage then got into a groove in the eighth and ninth," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said.
Illinois took a 5-0 lead after six innings. Kelly Norris-Jones doubled and scored in the second and drove in two runs with a single in the sixth.
Jordan Parr had two hits and Justin Parr reached base three times.
Big Ten leader Michigan was still in position to win, trailing just 2-0 in the top of the eighth inning. Then, Illinois third baseman Jess Perkins went to work.
With two runners on, the freshman blasted the ball over the left-center field fence, giving the Illini a 5-0 lead at Ann Arbor.
"Having those two runs on the board was important, and with two outs and runners on base I just wanted to do anything possible to just get a hit to score Jessica [Davis] from third," Perkins said.
The Wolverines scored a run in the eighth, but Pepper Gay got Amanda Chidester to pop up for the final out.
It was just the fourth conference loss of the season for the Wolverines (12-4). Illinois improved to 6-10 ahead of today's doubleheader with Michigan.
Saturday's win was the first for Illinois against the Wolverines in more than five years and ended an eight-game losing streak to the Wolverines.
In track and field:
Illinois senior Andrew Riley added a Penn Relays title to his list of college accomplishments. Riley won the 110 hurdles Saturday in Philadelphia, finishing in 13.55.
In the Drake Relays on Saturday, Illini Davis Fraker took fourth in the hammer throw.