PHOENIX — By the sixth inning Sunday afternoon, the Illinois baseball team was well on its way to claiming its third sweep in four weekends to start the season.
The Illini did just that, earning a 9-2 win at Grand Canyon in a dominant display in the desert this past weekend.
The play, though, that stood out to Illinois coach Dan Hartleb came in the third inning with his Illini leading 1-0. Ben Troike saw eight pitches before ripping a two-run double to push Illinois ahead 3-0.
"The difference in the game was that at-bat," Hartleb said. "Their bench just deflated after that."
Illinois (10-3) is off to its best 13-game start since its historic 2015 season when the Illini won a program-record 50 games.
Aside from Troike's double, Michael Massey hit a solo home run in the third, while Centennial graduate Kellen Sarver added two RBI singles as part of a three-hit day.
That was more than enough offense for Cyrillo Watson. The right-hander gave up just four hits in six innings of work with a pair of strikeouts to earn his second win of the season.
"I thought he was in command (Sunday)," Hartleb said. "He did an unbelievable job, and he threw some great change-ups. He continues to develop, (and there's) a lot of really good things coming from him. He progresses each week."