Sophomore Jake Bivens got the Wolverines on the board with a two-out walk, which eventually allowed him to score off the bat of Cody Bruder. The senior knocked a two-RBI double to left field scoring Bivens and Ako Thomas. Drew Lugbauer earned a walk of his own and was scored on an infield error off the bat of Harrison Wenson to give the Wolverines a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom half of that frame, the Fighting Illini (27-23, 11-12 Big Ten) got two runs back on a home run off the bat of Michael Hurwitz. As a matter of fact, it was the first home run of the season for the senior.
The Wolverines (35-18, 13-10 Big Ten) scored four runs on four hits in the top of the fifth inning to take a 7-2 edge over the Fighting Illini. Bivens tripled to left-centerfield and Thomas ripped an RBI double to put Michigan ahead, 4-2. Lugbauer's sacrifice fly scored Thomas for a three-run lead. Then, Wenson launched a two-run shot to left field to put Michigan ahead by five runs on Friday night.
Wenson, a junior from Detroit Jesuit, has led the Maize and Blue all season long with his play behind the plate and with his bat. It was the eighth home run of the season for Wenson.
Illinois rallied for four runs on three hits and a Michigan error to cut the deficit to one run after six innings of play. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Doran Turchin, Jack Yalowitz and Hurwitz all got on base to load the bags for Adam Walton. Walton smokes a ball off the pitcher with two strikes and two outs, scoring Turchin and tying the game against the Wolverines, 7-7.
Pat McInerney launched a home run in the bottom of the eighth and was followed up by a two-run RBI single off the bat of Yalowitz. A sacrifice fly from Walton allowed the Fighting Illini to score another and take a commanding 11-7 lead. The 11 run game set a season high for Illinois.
Down by four runs in the top of the ninth, Thomas scored on a bases loaded walk, but three strikeouts ended the game and sealed the 11-8 victory for Illinois. Cole Bellair picked up his first career save.
The bullpen of Illinois was phenomenal on Friday night. The squad went 4.2 innings of work and allowed just one run on three hits, striking out four batters. Oliver Jaskie started the game on the hill for Michigan and tossed 5.0 innings of baseball, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out eight batters in the no decision. Ryan Nutof was handed the loss. J.D. Nielsen got the win out of the bullpen for Illinois.
The two teams will finish the three-game series on Saturday at Illinois Field in Champaign, Illinois. The rubber match will take place at 4:30 PM ET.