Hoosiers drop series opener at Illinois

Devin Taylor goes deep twice, but Illini respond with blasts of their own to edge out Indiana 7-5 on Friday

By Carl James @jovian34 April 15th, 2023 – photo of Devin Taylor by Zach Greene

In a very competitive back-and-forth game to open up the series at Illinois, the Illini came out on top after a Jacob Schroeder three-run blast off of Craig Yoho in the bottom of the 8th inning. Indiana had taken the lead twice, both times with home runs off the bat of Freshman phenom Devin Taylor, who now leads Indiana with 7 home runs on the season.

Indiana out-hit Illinois 10-8 on the day, but the Illini drew 7 walks from Hoosier pitchers. The walks were very costly for Indiana, as many came around to score and lead to hit-able pitches being subsequently thrown in the zone. Illinois had balanced hitting throughout their lineup and punished the few, but costly, mistakes that Hoosier pitchers made.

Indiana used four pitchers, all among the most trusted in recent weeks. Seti Manase opened with two scoreless innings. Brayden Risedorph threw three innings in the middle giving up 4 runs, three earned. Two of those runs came from execution mistakes. Risedorph struck out Danny Doligale on a wild pitch in the dirt which went between catcher Peter Serruto’s legs. Risedorph also had a errant pick-off throw that put a runner in scoring position. In tight games like this it is often the execution that makes the difference, and these two runs ended up equaling the final margin in the game.

On the other end of execution, there were positive from Indiana as well. Peter Serruto gunned down two runners trying to get to second base. Brock Tibbitts robbed a hit with a great jumping grab and continued to make fantastic scoops of throws to first base. Aggressive base running also opened opportunities for Indiana, but the best chance the Hoosiers had, with runners on second and third with only one out in the fourth inning ended with no runs scored.

Thanks to one of Serruto’s gun downs, Wes Burton faced the minimum on 18 pitches in 1 inning of work. He is likely the only Friday pitcher who could realistically be available for work on Saturday, if needed. Craig Yoho took the loss for the Hoosiers, giving up the winning runs on a three run bomb in the bottom of the eighth Inning. Yoho looked good in the seventh, but a lead-off walk in the eighth started a series of events that lead to the Hoosiers being behind. After getting swing and miss with his nasty breaker, Yoho tried it again leaving it up in the zone with less break, and it was ripped for a double in to left. Protecting a one-run lead, Yoho worked his fastball to stay in the zone, but Schroeder saw it just enough to hit the game winning bomb. Yoho did finish the inning with no further damage preserving at least one more pitcher for the critical double header on Saturday.

Projected rain on Sunday has the series concluding with a Saturday double header. Game one will be on B1G+ at 1:30pm Eastern, followed by the evening game at 6pm on BTN. Indiana will start their one true starting pitcher and ace Luke Sinnard (3.68 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) in the afternoon game. Freshman right-hander Jake Swartz (4.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) will get the ball for the Illini. Swartz is coming off a very effective outing in Illinois’ only win last week at Northwestern. He went 5.1 innings, allowing only six base runners and only one run.

Indiana will employ an “opener” for the evening game, and are waiting to see who is available after the afternoon game to make an announcement. Illinois will throw junior right-hander Jack Wenninger (4.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP), who gave up 5 runs, all earned, in 7.1 innings of work last week at Northwestern. Wenninger has gone at least five innings six times this year.