A 10:54 p.m. start was nothing for the Michigan Wolverines, as they faced off against the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Big Ten Tournament last night at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. The five-seeded Wolverines took down the four-seeded Illini, 7-5.
Before the Illini had recorded an out in the top of the first, it was already 2-0. The Wolverines started the game off with a bang — back-to-back home runs off the bats of All-Big Ten honorees Clark Elliott and Joe Stewart started the party for Michigan.
Illinois centerfielder Taylor Jackson cut the lead in half with an RBI single to left field in the second. In the next half inning, Matt Frey erased the Illinois comeback attempt with an inside-out jam-shot to left field, scoring Stewart for his second run of the game.
This pattern continued all night between the two teams. The Illini would plate a few, and immediately have their momentum squelched by the Wolverines as they expanded their lead once again. Two more Illini crossed the plate in the fourth on a pair of RBI doubles from Ryan Hampe and Taylor Jackson. These runs knotted the game at three for the time being.
In the next half inning, Jimmy Obertop blasted his 10th home run of the year to right center field, once again expanding the lead for the Wolverines. Soon after, the Illini came roaring back once again. Shortstop Cal Hejza singled to left field, scoring Jackson to tie the game at four.
Of course, this score wouldn’t last long, as the Wolverines regained the lead in the eighth inning on two RBI singles from Joey Velasquez and Elliott. The lead stood at 6-4. The Wolverines tacked on one more insurance run in the ninth with an Obertop single to centerfield, plating Stewart for his third run of the game.
The pattern cycled back through as the Illini scored again in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to the Wolverines this time. One run scored before Cameron Weston slammed the door for the Wolverines at 2:16 a.m. central time.
Chase Allen earned the win for the Wolverines on the mound, moving his record to 7-1 on the year as he threw two innings in relief and gave up one earned run. Cameron Weston notched his third save of the year.
Stewart and Velasquez both had three-hit games for the Wolverines and each had one RBI. Stewart scored three of the Wolverines seven runs. Elliott and Obertop both went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored each.
Michigan now must take on the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Maryland, tonight at 10 p.m. eastern/9 p.m. local time.