CARBONDALE — Reliever Bryan Roberts helped streaking Illinois escape a ninth-inning jam, and his teammates responded with three runs in the top of the 10th to pull out a 7-5 nonconference baseball victory against Southern Illinois on Saturday.
Roberts entered for the first time this season with the bases loaded and two outs in a 4-4 game. With no wiggle room, the fifth-year senior struck out Cody Daily on five pitches to extend the game.
When Illinois (12-4) went ahead for good in the next half-inning, Roberts earned his first win since May 1, 2010. It was just the fourth appearance for the right-hander since he underwent elbow surgery following the 2010 season.
“Bryan showed a lot of composure in a tough situation and got the big strikeout,” UI coach Dan Hartleb said. “It’s the first time he has been on the mound in a competitive situation in a long time, but he got the job done.”
The victory was Illinois’ 11th in its last 12 games. It’s the program’s most successful streak since 1998, when the Illini won 13 of 14.
After Roberts did his job, Illini hitters took it from there, loading the bases in the top of the 10th on singles by Jordan Parr and David Kerian, a sacrifice bunt by Thomas Lindauer and an intentional walk to Brandon Hohl.
Parr scored when Salukis second baseman Jake Welch misplayed a grounder by pinch hitter Ryan Nagle. Adam Walton followed with a safety squeeze that SIU reliever Lee Weld initially bobbled before throwing the ball over the first baseman’s head, allowing two more runs to score.
Illini closer Reid Roper allowed one run in the 10th, earning his fourth save.
Five Illinois relievers combined to limit SIU to four hits and one run in 61/3 innings.
Illinois’ 3-4-5 hitters combined for seven of the team’s nine hits. Justin Parr went 3 for 6 with two RBI. Jordan Parr was 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Kerian finished 2 for 5.
In women’s gymnastics:
Weinstein’s perfect. Alina Weinstein scored the second perfect 10 in Illini history and set a program record in the all-around, leading Illinois to the State of Illinois Classic title at Chicago.
Weinstein’s perfect score came in the vault on the UI’s final rotation. Former Illini Cara Pomeroy also scored a 10 in 2004 in the uneven parallel bars.
Weinstein won all four event titles en route to an all-around score of 39.625, breaking her previous school mark of 39.600.
The Illini won their sixth straight Illinois Classic title.
Illini win tourney. Illinois clinched the title of the weather-shortened Fighting Illini Invitational with a 6-4 victory against Saint Louis at Eichelberger Field.
The Illini went 3-0 in the round-robin portion of the event and were awarded the title when the four participating teams agreed to cancel the championship bracket due to cold weather.
Illinois (10-12) scored three runs in the second inning to take the lead for good, and winning pitcher Pepper Gay (6-8) limited the Billikens to four hits in seven innings. Gay issued seven walks but stranded 12 Saint Louis runners with the help of seven strikeouts.
Jessica Davis went 2 for 3 with a double and home run for Illinois.
In women’s golf:
Schuldt in hunt. Illini junior Ember Schuldt shot a 1-over-par 73 in the second round to move into a share of seventh place in the Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate at Augusta, Ga. Schuldt’s 36-hole total of 148 is 6 strokes off the pace set by Augusta State’s Natalie Wille entering today’s final round.
Illinois is 15th in the 18-team field with a 641 total following a second-round 322.