An upside of the YMBL Cardinal Classic tournament this weekend is that Illinois gets another chance against Gonzaga. A “do over”. For the players, they may even see it as “revenge”.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Illini Friday afternoon in their 13-3 loss to Gonzaga. The offense seemed to go back to its old ways when Kevin Johnson was pitching. Johnson saw no offensive support in his 4 2/3 innings. That said, it would have taken a lot of offense to make a difference. In Friday’s start, Johnson gave up nine hits and five runs.
However THAT said, of Johnson’s five runs allowed only one was earned. Sloppy defense played a part in Friday’s loss and Coach Hartleb made a point of mentioning that in his post-game interview:
"We made some fundamental mistakes defensively today and as a pitching staff, we need to do a better job of battling through those. We didn’t have a very good approach at the plate as a team, and we didn’t hit well situationally when we had opportunities. But the great thing about baseball and about this tournament is that we get another opportunity against the same team tomorrow, so we have the ability to split the series."
Despite the fact that Illinois was truly slaughtered in Friday’s contest, I do try to find something positive to say about the day. How about freshman Will Krug? Krug, listed in the roster as an outfielder, came in to pitch in the 9th inning with one out and two runners on and promptly got the next two batters out. He followed that up by staying in the lineup in the ninth and batting. He hit a single and eventually scored a run in Illinois’ two-run rally.
Like I said, it’s time for a do over. Game time is 11am CT. Ben will have the Live Blog up and GameTracker will be there too. You can access both at the FightingIllini.com web site.
Later today at 2:30pm, Illinois will take on tournament host Lamar.
Good luck, Illini!!