In Saturday's first game, Michigan State used a three-run fourth inning and a two-run fifth inning to down the Illini 5-3. In the nightcap, the Fighting Illini were powered by the arm of starting pitcher Tim Gorski, who pitched a four-hit, complete game, shutout and led Illinois to a 3-0 win in front of 626 fans. After the doubleheader, Illinois moved to 9-16 overall and 2-5 in conference play. Michigan State is now 16-11 and 6-1.
Game 1: Michigan State 5, Illinois 3
Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when right fielder Vince DiMaria, who reached base on a leadoff double and went to third courtesy of a Spartan error, came home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of third baseman Chad Frk.
The Illini added another run in the second inning after first baseman Shawn Roof singled home catcher Chris Robinson to make the score 2-0.
Illinois starter Ted Rowe had faced the minimum amount of batters possible through three innings, but ran into some trouble in the fourth. Spartans Alan Cattrysse and Oliver Wolcott reached base with singles and Rowe walked Travis Gulick to load the bases. Michigan State pitcher Scott Koerber singled home Cattrysse to put the Spartans on the board. Rowe struck out the next batter and got third baseman James Moreno to ground to shortstop Eric Eymann, who bobbled the ball and was only able to get one out at second, allowing the Spartans to get their second run of the inning. Ryan Basham drove in a run with a single to put MSU ahead for good.
In the top of the fifth, Rowe walked Cattrysse and then served up a two-run homerun to Wolcott and the Spartans had a 5-2 lead.
Illinois added another run in the sixth when Ryan Hastings scored on a RBI single by DiMaria off of Michigan State reliever Adam White.
The Illini threatened to push the game into extra innings, but White saved the game for Michigan State when he struck out Hastings.
Koerber picked up the win and improved to 2-3 on the season and White recorded his first save. Rowe was the hard luck loser for the Illini and dipped to 1-4. Rowe pitched a complete game and allowed five runs on eight hits, while walking three and striking out three.
Game 2: Illinois 3, Michigan State 0
Just like his teammate did in the first contest, Illinois starting pitcher Tim Gorski faced the minimum number of Michigan State batters through the first three innings. However, Gorski was able to keep his early momentum late and was the main force behind the Fighting Illini handing the Spartans their first conference loss of the season.
The Illini got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning due to timely hitting and control problems from Spartan pitcher Jeff Gerbe. Gerbe hit Eymann and then walked Hastings and DiMaria on eight straight pitches. Gerbe found the strike zone long enough for Roof two drive in two runners with a single and the Illini were ahead 2-0. The two runs would be more than enough for Gorski.
Just to be sure, the Illini added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Robinson doubled to straight away center field, followed by a walk to Hastings and a single by DiMaria. Illini offensive leader Roof stepped to the plate and got an RBI the hard way, by getting hit by a pitch from Spartan reliever Spencer Hahn.
Gorski's outstanding performance improved his record to 2-0 on the year. The Lindenhurst, IL native went 7 innings and gave up four hits, no runs, while striking out seven and allowing one free pass.
Spartan hurler Jeff Gerbe tossed for 5.1 innings, and allowed five hits and all three Illinois runs.
The Illini hunt for a series split on Easter Sunday against the Spartans. First pitch is at 1:05 P.M. at Illinois Field.
IlliniBoard.com Stars of the Games
Tim Gorski, P – The starter for Game 2 came up huge for Coach "Itch" Jones. His stellar outing definitely earned the 6'3 senior more time on the mound.
Shawn Roof, 1B – For the doubleheader, the pride of Paducah, KY had three hits and drove in three of the Illini's six runs. Roof raised his game and proved that he can bat at the top of the order (second position in game one) or at the bottom of the order (ninth slot in game two).