Duchene, Illini stay alive
OMAHA, Neb. — Sloppy defense cost the Illinois baseball team in its opening Big Ten tournament game.
It nearly did again Thursday, but the Illini were able to overcome three errors during a 6-5 win against Ohio State in an elimination game at TD Ameritrade Park.
Illinois will face Michigan State at 3:30 p.m. Friday in another elimination game.
“We were solid on the mound but made a couple mistakes defensively that put us in jams and made the game tight,” UI coach Dan Hartleb said. “Our guys did a very good job of jumping out offensively. We didn’t have a great offensive game (Wednesday), but we found a way to score early and put pressure on Ohio State all day.”
Illinois (32-20) rapped out 15 hits, its second-highest output this season. David Kerian (2 for 4), Jason Goldstein (2 for 5) and Reid Roper (2 for 5) each drove in a run.
It helped having Kevin Duchene almost back to full strength.
The left-hander, who missed significant time this season because of a forearm strain, lasted six innings and picked up the win. Duchene (4-1) allowed all five of the Buckeyes’ runs, but only one was earned.
“That’s just baseball,” Duchene said. “As a pitcher, you just get back up there and keep throwing strikes.”
Tyler Jay certainly threw strikes. The left-handed closer for the Illini retired all seven batters he faced to record his 10th save of the season.
“Tyler has one of the most electric arms in the nation,” Duchene said. “He’s one of those kids that you want on your team and not on the other.”
In men’s golf:
Four Illini recognized. Brian Campbell, Charlie Danielson, Thomas Detry and Jonathan Hauter were named to the PING All-Midwest Region team on Thursday. It’s the second straight year at least four Illini made the team and second such honor for Campbell, Danielson and Detry.
In men’s tennis:
Doubles team falls. Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon lost their first-round doubles match at the NCAA Championships on Thursday in Athens, Ga., falling 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to Clemson’s Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden.
“Our guys played hard, but I give Clemson a ton of credit,” UI coach Brad Dancer said. “They hit big shots at big moments.”
McAsey honored. Illinois men’s track and field runner Joe McAsey was the most recent Illini Scholar-Athlete of the Week. McAsey, an accounting major, has a 3.05 GPA.