CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois Fighting Illini scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win in their first home game of the 2011 season and snap Indiana State's five-game winning streak, topping the Sycamores by a 7-6 score in front of 311 fans at Illinois Field.
With the loss, ISU falls to 11-10 on the season while UI improves to 7-10.
Junior Lucas Hileman led off the game with a double over the rightfielder's head, advancing to third on groundout by sophomore Koby Kraemer and scoring on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Robby Ort to give Indiana State a 1-0 lead.
The Illini took a 4-1 lead with four runs in the third inning, coming on a two-RBI double by Matt Dittman and a two-run single by Brandon Hohl.
ISU cut the UI lead to one run, at 4-3, in the fifth, scoring two runs with two outs on a single through the left side of the infield by junior Ryan Walterhouse. The Sycamores regained their lead in the following inning with two more runs, coming on a double by Hileman into the left-center field gap to score junior Jon Hedges and sophomore Jordan Pearson.
ISU made it 6-4 in their favor in the seventh, when junior Kyle Burnam and Hedges tallied back-to-back doubles with two down in the inning.
The Illini did not go away in their home opener, however, scoring once in the bottom of the eighth and winning the game in the ninth thanks to three walks in the final inning by the ISU bullpen.
Hedges led ISU with three hits at the plate, while Hileman and Walterhouse both drove in a pair of runs. Junior Colin Rea started and went five innings on the mound, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Senior Jason Van Skike (2-1, 3.16 ERA) heads to the mound on Saturday as Indiana State looks to even the weekend series. Illinois will send senior right-hander John Anderson (2-1, 4.24 ERA) to the hill, with first pitch set for 2:00 p.m. (ET). The game can be heard live on 89.7 FM WISU and online at http://www.indstate.edu/wisu.
Postgame recap with head coach Rick Heller: