Illini Jump On Iowa Early and Often, 12-3
May 23, 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich - The Fighting Illini strung together a scoring drive in three consecutive innings early on to help hand Iowa a 12-3 loss in Big Ten Tournament play. Behind Illinois starting pitcher Tanner Roark (8-2), the Illini used the first three innings to grasp an early momentum and go ahead 5-0. Roark went the distance for the Illini, allowing nine hits in nine complete innings.
Illinois jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when third baseman Brandon Wikoff started the inning with screaming shot through the right side. The ball tipped off the glove of a diving Iowa second baseman Justin Toole and sprinkled into shallow right field, giving Wikoff enough time to come away with a double on the play. After Big Ten Player of the Year, Lars Davis popped up to shallow left field, first baseman Mike Rohde was hit by a Steve Turnbull inside pitch. A wild pitch advanced runners to second and third and working with two outs designated hitter Daniel Webb pounded a clutch hit into right-centerfield to score both runners.
The Illini lit up the board with two more runs in the following inning. Second baseman Ryan Hastings began the inning by drawing a walk and scoring on a screaming line drive down the right field line by Nick Stockwell. Next batter, Ryan Snowden squeezed the second base on balls from Iowa's starting pitcher Turnbull to place runners on first and third. Wikoff collected his second hit of the day with a similar ball through the right side to score Stockwell.
The hitting barrage continued in the third when Webb wasted no time in making Iowa relief pitcher Michael Jacobs feel comfortable. After Webb doubled to left-center field Shawn Roof followed with a high chopper to the right side over the second baseman's head to score Webb and increase Illinois' lead 5-0.
The scoreboard displayed a seemingly balanced 12-9 hit advantage to the Illini, but Illinois used five double plays and a handful of defensive snags to stifle many Hawkeye threats.
After the Illini tacked on a single run in the seventh, Iowa's bats finally came alive in the eighth when they cut the deficit in half, 6-3. The inning started when catcher Ben Geelen singled to centerfield and advanced to second when Toole hit a slow roller down the third baseline. After Illinois third baseman Wikoff snagged a line drive by Jason White to garner the first out of the inning Travis Sweet cleared the bases with a flare to right field to score both Geelen and Toole. Before the Illini could get out of the inning Dusty Napolean added a fundamental right side hit to score Sweet at third.
Illinois centerfielder Kyle Hudson picked up his third hit of the day when he started an Illini six run hitting clinic in the ninth. Despite the three run lead headed into the final inning, the Illini bats continued to stay hot. With bases loaded, Rohde picked up his second and third RBIs of the game with a single through the right side. Another single by Roof scored two more Illini runs. When the dust cleared the Orange and Blue would add two more runs to close out the inning with six runs on four hits. Illinois silenced Iowa in bottom of the ninth to preserve a 12-3 win in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Three other Illini players contributed multi-hit games including Wikoff, Webb and Roof who each had two hits on the day, combining for five Illini runs.
Illinois will play either No. 1 Michigan or No. 2 Minnesota depending on the outcome of the second game of the day against No. 3 Penn State and No. 6 Ohio State. With the loss, Iowa will play the loser of the Penn State vs. Ohio State game which is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. ET this afternoon.