Top of the Morning, May 31, 2019

RICHARD CROSS won't need Google Maps to get to today's Illinois-Clemson baseball game at Swayze Field.

The ESPNU play-by-play announcer knows the Mississippi campus well. He went to school there and still lives in Oxford.

Tourney bids an expectation now for Illini

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois didn't waste any time putting up a "2019" on the left-field wall at Illinois Field to mark this season's NCAA tournament appearance.

It's the fourth regional berth for Illinois baseball in nine years — a number that would be higher if the Illini weren't among the first four out in both 2014 and 2018.

Asmussen | Harris fits right in with experienced roster

Call him "Gramps," "Pops" or the "World's Oldest Sophomore," it doesn't bother Josh Harris.

The Marine-turned-Illinois relief pitcher is having the time of his life.

"Like I've been telling people all season, I'm super happy I chose to come play here," Harris said.

Steep learning curve no problem for McDonald

CHAMPAIGN — Consider the jump Cam McDonald has made in his baseball career in the last year.

Last June, McDonald pitched the final two innings of the Class 2A state championship game at Peoria's Dozer Park. His shutout effort for the save capped Spring Valley Hall's title-clinching 4-1 victory against Teutopolis.

Illinois baseball NCAA tournament practice

The Illinois baseball team practices at Illinois Field in Champaign on Tuesday May, 28, 2019. The team is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

Asmussen | Fun's over, now time for Illini to get down to business

If you drove by Urbana Country Club at 11:20 Monday morning, you heard a loud roar. And it wasn't a reaction to an ace.

Inside, on two huge screens, the Illinois baseball players and coaches saw their name go on the board for this year's NCAA tournament. That's when the cheering started in a room full of supporters, including Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman.

Résumé splotch not blurring Illini's strengths

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois baseball’s two-game stay in Omaha, Neb., for the Big Ten tournament came as a surprise. The third-seeded Illini had won six straight Big Ten series heading into the conference tournament, and that late season success coupled with their strong RPI had hosting an NCAA regional on the table.

But only with more wins.

Tate | Seasoned Illini ballplayers suited for success in final NCAA campaign

The gritty members of Dan Hartleb's 36-19 baseball team have known disappointment.

It's built into the game. Good hitters are retired two-thirds of the time. Injuries happen. And slumps.

Kovacevic powers into NCAA singles semifinals

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two wins separate Aleks Kovacevic from a national title.

The Illinois junior advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA singles championships, with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Florida’s Sam Riffice on Thursday night at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

Asmussen | Van Scoy out to make new memories in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. — Of course, Illinois third baseman Grant Van Scoy is thrilled to be playing Big Ten tournament games at home. The Papillion, Neb., native has a cheering section of 60-plus at this week's games.

"It means a lot to play in front of my family and friends again," Van Scoy said.