Head Coach "Itch" Jones and the Fighting Illini baseball team returned to the friendly confines of Illinois Field, but were unable to send the crowd of 426 fans home happy as Illinois lost to Western Michigan 5-4.
The Broncos (12-12) scored the first run of the game when designated hitter Jarrett Juergensen hit into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play in the second inning. Western Michigan put two more on the board in the fourth on first baseman Tony Scheffler's single. The three runs were all that Illinois starting pitcher Andy Sigerich would allow.
Illinois (7-14) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when leadoff man Trevor Huisinga reached base with a walk and came around to score on a wild pitch from Bronco starter Dan Coberley.
In the next inning, Illini left fielder Drew Davidson welcomed Bronco reliever Dan O'Brien by smashing a pitch over the right field wall and cut the Bronco lead to one. The blast was Davidson's fourth round-tripper of the year.
Illinois continued the power surge in the sixth as catcher Chris Robinson went yard to right field with a two-run homerun. Robinson, who hit his fourth homer in five games, brought home shortstop Eric Eymann and gave the Illini their first lead of the day at 4-3.
The Broncos would not be held down for good as they took back the lead in the top of the seventh inning. Scheffler got on base courtesy of a leadoff walk and came around to score on pinch hitter Mike Demetral's RBI single. The next batter, left fielder Frank Ballard, brought home Demetral with an RBI double.
O'Brien picked up the win for Western Michigan and improved to 2-3 on the season. O'Brien pitched three innings, allowed four hits, gave up three runs, struck out two and walked one batter. J.R. Mathes came in to pitch the ninth and picked up his first save of the season.
Illini reliever Jimmy Conroy took the loss and fell to 4-3. Conroy tossed 3.2 innings and was touched for four hits, two runs, two walks and fanned one batter. Sigerich did not factor in the decision and went 5.1 innings, giving up four hits, three runs, while walking three and striking out one.
Walks proved to be costly for the Illini pitchers as three of the five Broncos that reached first with a base on balls came around to score.
Illinois will attempt to attain their first home victory of the year on Wednesday afternoon in the final game of their two game series against Western Michigan. Game time is at 2:05 P.M. The Illini return to Big Ten competition this weekend as the Spartans of Michigan State invade Champaign-Urbana. The teams hook-up in a single game on Friday night (6:35 P.M.), a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon (4:05 PM) and the series finale on Easter Sunday (1:05 P.M.).
IlliniBoard.com Star of the Game
Chris Robinson, C – Robinson went 2-4, with a two-run homer and a single. Robinson's homerun was his fourth of the year as the sophomore backstop kept up his hot hitting from last weekend's series against Ohio State in Columbus.