Saturday's UI roundup: Illini edge by Nittany Lions

Saturday's UI roundup: Illini edge by Nittany Lions

CHAMPAIGN — A five-run first inning got the Illinois baseball team going much faster Saturday afternoon than the team had one night earlier.

For all intents and purposes, though, the result ended up the same: with an Illini victory.

Illinois held on for a 7-6 victory against Penn State on Saturday at Illinois Field, following up Friday night's 2-1 walk-off win in 10 innings to clinch its second straight Big Ten series ahead of Sunday's finale.

Zac Taylor's RBI single in the opening frame plated the first run for the Illini (24-13, 5-6 Big Ten), while a two-run triple from Cam McDonald and two-run double from Jeff Korte added substance to the five-run lead.

The Nittany Lions (17-17, 1-12) spent the next four innings chipping away at that advantage, going as far as to take a 6-5 lead to end the fifth before Korte singled in the bottom of the inning to pull the Illini even once again.

Centennial graduate Kellen Sarver then singled through the left side to seal the deal in the sixth, while former Parkland standout Garrett Acton stepped in for a 1-2-3 ninth inning on the mound to pick up his 12th save of the season.

Korte finished with three RBI on three hits, while Michael Massey also tallied two connections on the day.

Illinois will go for the series sweep at noon today.

In softball

Wolverines rally. With two outs in the seventh inning, No. 22 Michigan rallied for four runs and handed Illinois a 9-8 loss Saturday afternoon at Eichelberger Field in Urbana, clinching the series ahead of Sunday's finale at noon.

After conceding two runs in the opening frame, the Illini (27-16, 6-8 Big Ten) received a quartet of run-scoring doubles from Kiana Sherlund, Carly Thomas, Veronica Ruelius and Katie Wingerter to plate five runs before tallying another in the fourth.

The Wolverines (32-11, 14-1) chipped away at their deficit with three runs over the next two innings, but the Illini answered again with two runs in the sixth to retain a three-run lead.

Arcola product Taylor Edwards was pinned with the loss after giving up four runs, just two earned, over five split innings of work. She shared time in the circle with Sydney Sickels, who walked four and yielded five runs — two earned — in two innings of relief.

In men's tennis

Singles power Illini. No. 15 Illinois rode strong singles play to a 5-2 victory over Minnesota on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis. The Gophers captured a pair of swift victories in doubles play to seize the opening point before Vuk Budic won 6-1, 6-1 to start singles, pulling the Illini even.

Minnesota took the next match in straight sets, but Illinois dominated the rest of the way to seize their ninth conference win of the spring season.

Zeke Clark and Aleks Kovacevic each won their singles matches in straight sets, while Siphosothando Montsi clinched the win in a three-set thriller.

In men's golf

Illini three shots back. No. 30 Illinois battled its way to 26-under 542 as a team, in Saturday afternoon's first two rounds of Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, and sits second behind host Iowa entering today's final round.

Uni High standout Varun Chopra carded back-to-back 67s on the opening day, good enough to tie for a share of third place with Iowa's Benton Weinberg.

Two other Illini joined Chopra in the top 10, as Adrien Dumont de Chassart is tied for fifth place at 7-under 135 and Giovanni Tadiotto holds a share of ninth at 5-under 137.

In women's golf

Round cancelled. The second round of play at the Big Ten Championships was cancelled after 3 1 / 2 hours of weather delay in Maineville, Ohio, as unplayable course conditions forced the event to convert to a 36-hole showdown with the final round to begin at 7 a.m. today.

Illinois finished Friday's opening round with a three-shot lead over tied-for-second Ohio State and Indiana, while freshman Kornkamol Sukaree remains in a three-way tie for first individually after carding 1-under 71.

In track and field

McGrath, Quinn lead. Allison McGrath brought the Illinois women's team its first victory of the day, clocking 4 minutes, 34.54 seconds to win the 1,500-meter run at the War Eagle Invitational in Auburn, Ala.

Devin Quinn supplied the men's first win in the 100 dash, finishing in 10.19 seconds before later clocking 20.52 in the 200 dash to take second.

The Illini women also posted a win in the 1,600 relay with the team of Chisom Nwoko, Briana Driver, Amira Aduma and Felicia Phillips.