April 1, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – – Illinois exploded for five runs on six hits in the bottom of the seventh to take a 7-1 win over Ohio State Friday at Illinois Field in the Big Ten opener for each team. The loss snapped a string of 10 straight victories for the Buckeyes, who had not lost since March 12.
With one out in the seventh, Chris Robinson got things started for the Fighting Illini with a single to right-center field. Chad Frk followed with an infield single to put runners at first and second for Chase Kliment, who skied out to centerfield. Trovor Huisinga singled to shallow center to score Robinson. Toby Gardenhire sent a shot off the glove of Ohio State second baseman Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy), but the ball bounced high off his glove and the runners were safe. The play was ruled a hit and instead of being out of the inning on the would-be error, Frk scored on the play to give Illinois a 4-1 lead.
J.R. Kyes sent a triple down the right-field line for a triple that scored two more runs and then Ryan Rogowski single to center to plate Kyes and cap a five-run inning for the Illini.
Ohio State starting pitcher Trent Luyster (Sr., Flushing, Ohio/Harrison Central) came in tied for the Big Ten lead with four wins, but left with his second loss. He was charged with seven earned runs on 10 hits, though should have been out of the inning charged with only one earned run. Brian Blomquist earned the win to improve to 5-1, allowing the one Buckeye run on seven hits in pitching his second complete game of the season.
The Buckeyes had not allowed a run by the opposition in the first 13 games of the season, but since that time, have allowed a run to four of its last five opponents. That includes the series opener Friday at Illinois in which the Illini capitalized on a lead-off double by Kyes. Kyes went to third on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Drew Davidson. The 1-0 lead was short lived though since Ohio State got the run back in the top of the second inning. Cody Caughenbaugh (Jr., Newark, Ohio/Licking Valley) led off the inning with a single through the right side and then after a ground out and a strikeout was able to score from third on a base hit through the right side by Paul Farinacci (Sr., Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura), who delivered his team-leading 20th RBI of the season to tie the game.
Davidson scored in the fourth inning to give Illinois a 2-1 lead. After leading off the inning with a single up the middle, he advanced to third on a flare to shallow right field by Dusty Bensko before scoring on a double play off the bat of Robinson.
Jedidiah Stephen (Jr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) led the Buckeyes’ seven-hit offense with a double in the fourth and a single in the ninth. Five other Buckeyes had a hit, though Zoeller’s 13-game hit streak came to an end in an 0-for-4 day. Kyes and Gardenhire each had two hits as the Illini finished with 10 hits, but committed two errors after entering the game as the Big Ten’s top fielding team. Ohio State, which was second in the league in fielding was not charged with an error.
Ohio State fell to 13-5 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten, while Illinois improved to 11-5-1 and 1-0 in conference play. The Buckeyes had not lost a Big Ten opener since 1998 when Northwestern downed Ohio State 15-9 in Evanston, Ill.
The series continues with a doubleheader Saturday at 1:05 p.m. before concluding Sunday at 2:05 p.m.