MINNEAPOLIS — The Illinois baseball team clinched Sunday a series win over Minnesota with 4-2 and 13-3 victories at Siebert Field. The Illini go for the sweep Monday at 12 p.m. CT.
“Our guys did a really good job today,” said head coach Dan Hartleb. “We came out and beat a good pitcher in the first game and that set the tone. Really, really good wins. Today was a good day for us in a lot of areas.”
Illinois (22-11, 3-5 Big Ten) has won five straight series at Minnesota (2006, ’08, ’13, ’17, ’19). A win Monday would secure the Illini’s first series sweep against Minnesota since 1997.
Minnesota (14-18, 6-5 Big Ten) lost its fourth straight Big Ten game in the nightcap. The Illini’s 13 runs in Game 2 tied the most the Gophers have allowed this season.
Game 1 – Illinois 4, Minnesota 2
Illinois tagged Minnesota All-American Max Meyer for his season highs in runs allowed (3) and hits allowed (9) to beat the Gophers 4-2 to start the series. The Illini scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to come from behind for the win.
“We did a really good job against (Meyer),” said Hartleb. “He’s going to be a top round pick next year.”
Andy Fisher (4-1) gave Illinois its first strong outing of the day by scattering 10 hits over six innings and allowing only two runs. Fisher and the Illini bullpen held Minnesota to 1-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position, as the Gophers stranded 10 on base including five in the first two innings.
Game 2 – Illinois 13, Minnesota 3
Illinois scored six runs in the fourth and four runs in the seventh to open a 11-2 lead en route to a 13-3 win. The Illini walked a season-high 11 times, including a program record-tying five walks issued to Kellen Sarver.
Zac Taylor got the scoring started with a solo home run in the first inning and Illinois never looked back. Taylor added an RBI single later.
Illinois’ six fourth-inning runs were scored without the benefit of an RBI hit. Runs scored on a wild pitch, a passed ball, two fielder’s choices, a bases-loaded walk, and a catcher’s interference.
Ty Weber (3-1) took advantage of the run support and was sharp on the mound. He allowed only two runs on five hits in six innings, while striking out a season-high seven batters.
• Illinois has won five straight series at Minnesota (2006, ’08, ’13, ’17, ’19).
• Illinois is 21-4 when allowing six or fewer runs.
• Illinois is 20-4 when leading or tied after four innings.
• Illinois is 19-7 on the weekends (Fri.-Sun.) and 3-4 during the week (Mon.-Thur.).
• Illinois is outscoring opponents 21-6 in the first inning.
• Garrett Acton’s 11 saves are tied with Nick Blackburn’s 2016 season for the fourth-most in Illinois history. Joey Gerber (2018) and Tyler Jay (2015) own the record of 14.
• Ben Troike tied his career high with four hits in the first game.
• Cam McDonald tied his career high with three hits in the first game.
• In four plate appearances in Game 2, Jeff Korte was 0-0 with two runs and an RBI. He walked three times and was hit by a pitch.
• Grant Van Scoy snapped a career-long 11-game hitting streak in the opener. He hit .425 (17-40) during the streak.
• Michael Massey missed both games with an injury.
• Minnesota was 1-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position in both games of the doubleheader.
• Opponents are hitting .191 with runners in scoring position against the Illini (60/314).
• Illinois scored 17 runs in the doubleheader despite stranding 26 runners on base.
• The start of the series was delayed two days due to blizzard conditions in Minnesota.