Illinois tagged by the Gophers

Thursday, Illinois entered the loser’s bracket at the Big Ten Tournament as they lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 10-3.

Starter Mike Stankiewicz

The Gophers got to starter Mike Stankiewicz early as they hit him for 5 runs in the first inning and four runs before he got his first out. Brian Long replaced Stanky in the second but didn’t fare much better as he gave up 5 runs in 4 innings.

Down 10-0, the Illini did manage to make it interesting by scoring 3 runs in the 7th prompting a Minnesota call to the bullpen. To make things more intriguing, the bases were loaded with Lars Davis up. But no one can expect even Lars Davis to be the hero in EVERY game. Davis hit a deep fly out to center.

Ben Reeser

On the positive side, relievers Ben Reeser and Kevin Manson did a fine job once the damage was done. Combined they allowed no runs and two hits in 3 innings. Brandon Wikoff and Mike Rohde both had two hits.

All in all though, it was not a fun game. Down by seven by the second inning makes it really difficult. I kept thinking back to last Sunday thinking anything could happen. Well, it didn’t.

Some frustrated Illini after the Minnesota game.

The good news is that the tournament is double elimination where you get a second chance. The Illini next play Friday night at It isn’t clear. Ohio State upset Michigan Thursday night 4-2. That means the Buckeyes continue on in the Winners’ bracket. Michigan will play Penn State this afternoon and right after that, the winner will play Illinois. Both of those games are elimination games.

It’s hard to believe that #1 seed Michigan is fighting for their lives already.

My photos of the Illinois-Minnesota game are here.

Go Illini!!

Followup: I just wanted to add this… should #1 seed Michigan defeat Penn State, the Illini will remember that they DID win 2 games against them during the regular season. So do I wish for a Michigan matchup??? umm… maybe not. But it’s something to think about.

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