By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
April 23, 2022
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)
CHAMPAIGN -- The Illinois bullpen is still searching for that critical shutdown inning following a Illini offensive comeback.
In a 10-inning game where the lead changed five times, Maryland answered on four straight occasions Saturday to eventually secure a 13-9 victory. The win for the No. 24 Terrapins (31-8, 8-3 in Big Ten Conference) salvaged the first game of a Saturday doubleheader and rescued themselves from the 19-1 disaster they handed the Illini on Friday night.
The Illini lineup, which was again carried by the first five members just like Friday night, rallied the home team in the bottom half of the first, third, seventh and ninth frames. Illinois (20-16, 11-3) saw its bullpen of Joe Glassey, Ryan O'Hara and Tommy Green surrender eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits over just the final 4 ⅓ innings of work that would translate into a 16.15 earned run average for the afternoon.
Following a deep three-run home run by Illinois power hitter Justin Janas in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 6-6, Maryland tagged sophomore right-hander Joseph Glassey for three runs to establish itself with the momentum thanks to two-run home run by Terrapins nine-hole hitter Kevin Keister.
With a wind gusting up to nearly 30 miles per hour out to left field, both teams combined to seven home runs and 13 extra-base hits.
Illinois managed to escape being beaten in regulation by allowing a two-run, two-out error by Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw to eventually plate three runs all while down to its final strike to get the game into extra innings.
However, Illinois senior reliever Tommy Green, who transferred as a graduate student from Mercer after choosing the Illini over Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Houston, and Purdue this past summer, allowed four runs in the 10th frame that included a two-run home run by outfielder Chris Alleyne off a Green fastball that quickly landed in the Illinois Field parking lot.
The loss by the Illini, and a 12-2 home loss by Rutgers to Iowa, puts Illinois and the Scarlet Knights back in a tie for the Big Ten lead.
The tie will be lifted later this evening at Illinois Field as the Illini and Terrapins will end this critical weekend series with the second half of this Saturday doubleheader slated to begin with a 7 p.m. CST first pitch on the Big Ten Network. Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb is expected to hand the baseball to sophomore right-hander Riley Gowens (4-1, 3.97) in the nightcap of this twinbill. The 6-foot-3 Libertyville native, who was rated the No. 17 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by D1Baseball.com before the start of the 2022 season, will try to lead Illinois to its fifth straight league series win as he faces sophomore Jason Savacool (6-2, 2.39) who leads Maryland in earned run average, strikeouts and innings pitched this season.
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