It hurt, all right. As much as a bad-hop grounder to the chops.
But the scary part is the sting could worsen for Illinois baseball, which was one lousy strike away from keeping the Big Ten Conference tournament in town another day before Minnesota stormed back as the sun set Saturday.
The place has a fresh coat of paint.
The grass is as green as it's ever been.
Extra bleachers have been imported to serve extra fans who otherwise would be golfing or mowing the yard or washing the car or worrying about basketball recruiting.
Even the weather is cooperating.
It is not the Illinois Field atmosphere Illinois baseball is used to.
If it were college basketball, Illinois would be a lock for the NCAA tournament, assured of at least an at-large berth and probably a lofty seed.
But it is the quirky world of college baseball, where 36 wins, a national ranking and a regular season conference championship don't guarantee much for a team that fields grounders north of, say, Chattanooga.
It'll cost you a few bucks but might be worth it. Take a checklist to today's spring football game (2 p.m. start, no TV or radio) and see how the Illini grade out.
A starter's manual, free of charge:
DOWNERS GROVE – Casey Leonhardt has decided to transfer from the University of Illinois, the sophomore center's mother said today.
Spring football at Illinois never will reach the excitement level it does at a Notre Dame or a Nebraska, where fans pay both attention and money in the off-season.
Still, interest seems mighty low this April. Turns out a 17-game losing streak can be a marketing nightmare.
He wants a Big Ten championship, a College World Series berth and lights at Illinois Field.
Anything else, Itch Jones?
Like most struggling football programs, Illinois lacks speed, talent and confidence.
What it does have is incentive.
Itch Jones has every right to be mad at us, a community more in tune with basketball and football and even home shows than his preferred sport.
He is a college baseball coach nearing a college baseball milestone. But not in a college baseball town.
Who said Big Ten basketball is on the ropes? For those keeping count, that's three NIT titles in the last six years.
Leave the Final Four to Kentucky and North Carolina and UCLA. The Big Ten prefers the tiny crowds of Madison Square Garden, where tickets and trophies are cheap.