Baseball: Ohio Falls To Illinois Despite Offensive Improvement

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The Illinois (2-3) offense struck early and often in the Keith LeClair Classic on Friday, defeating the Ohio Bobcats (0-3), 11-6, in the Keith LeClair Classic.

The Bobcats gave up a season-high 11 runs, 10 of which were earned. Left-handed pitcher Mark Paliotto picked up his second loss of the season, as he lasted only four innings and gave up five earned runs and walked seven Illini batters.

The top half of the Illinois batting order was having a field day on the Bobcat pitchers, going a combined 11-for-19 and scoring seven of the team’s 11 runs.

First baseman David Kerian continued his hot streak to start the season, going 4-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored. The sophomore is now batting .625 on the season.

The Bobcats went to the bullpen in the fifth inning, looking to slow down the Illinois offense that had taken a 5-1 lead. Relief pitcher Sean Kennedy struggled against the bottom of the order, though, allowing three earned runs while balking and throwing a wild pitch during the fifth.

The momentum, however, started to take a swing towards the Bobcats towards the end of the fifth inning. Illinois failed to widen their lead beyond 8-1 after Kennedy picked off Michael Hurwitz and the junior struck out Justin Parr looking.

Ohio started the following inning 4-for-5, with Cody Gaerther opening the hit parade with a double. The Bobcats scored four runs and had bases loaded when clean up hitter Scott White, who went 0-for-2 in the inning, struck out looking.

Illinois ended Ohio’s momentum in the bottom half of the sixth, scoring two runs on two hits to boost their lead to 10-5. The sixth inning was Ohio’s last legitimate threat in the game, as the Bobcats only had three hits and scored one run in the final three innings.

In spite of losing by five, Ohio saw great strides in their offense that entered Friday batting a combined 5-for-57. The six runs scored were a season-high, and they hit .333 as a team.

They also received strong play from second baseman Garrett Black, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI after entering the game with zero hits in his previous two games.

First baseman Jake Madsen also continued his hot start, going 1-for-3 with two RBIs against the Illini. He’s is now batting .385 on the year with five RBIs and only one strikeout.

Ohio’s quest for their first victory of the season continues Friday against New Mexico State and Saturday against Boston College. Freshman Connor Sitz is the projected starter against Aggies.