Illini Fall in Season Opener

The University of Illinois baseball team took the field for the first time last night against the Stetson Hatters at the Stetson Invitational in Deland, Florida.  Unfortunately, the good guys took it on the chin losing 6-3 due to sloppy play in the field and wasted opportunities.

“It was our first time outside under the lights, but we should be able to catch routine fly balls,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. “But still, I saw a lot of positives. We played very hard and we were very aggressive on the bases.”

The Hatters took advantage of consecutive errors to put together a 4-run inning which spelled defeat for the Illini. 

For those curious what the lineup of the Illini will look like this year, this is what they used last night:

  1. Joe Bonadonna cf
  2. Ryan Hastings 2b
  3. Mike Rohde 3b
  4. Chase Kliment dh
  5. Dave Schultz 1b
  6. Shawn Roof ss
  7. Trevor Huisinga
  8. Ryan Snowden lf
  9. Aaron Ifft c

Baseball Weekly polls have put the Illini finishing seventh in the Big Ten this year.  That seems a bit harsh since they were the 2005 conference champions.  But consider that the majority of their starters from their championship team have moved on.  Only Rohde, Roof, and Huisinga remain.  They have lost a few of their quality starters, too.

In addition, Itch Jones has retired and rookie coach Dan Hartleb has taken over.  There has to be some transition period.

Good luck to the Illini this season!  Looking forward to seeing some home games at Illinois Field when the weather warms up (first home game is March 31 against Purdue).

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