Michigan takes the wind out of Illinois’ sails

Michigan defeated Illinois tonight 9-5.

I shot this as I was walking to the stadium.  The flags are located at direct centerfield.  I could tell right away we were going to have a slugfest.
Some Michigan ballplayers were spotted outside the stadium during batting practice to flag down the balls that got hit out.

Ok, I’ll tell you right now, I’ve never been to a more windy ballgame in my life.  The flag photo doesn’t even do it justice.  Did it affect ball play?  You bet.  Pop flies became fly outs and fly outs turned into home runs.

Four of those home runs belonged to Michigan including back-to-back jobbers by Nate Recknagel (who now has 11 for the year) and Zach Putnam in the top of the third.  Dom Altobelli hit one for the good guys in the fifth.

The game wasn’t without some dramatics.  The next time Nate Recknagel was up after his homer, he was hit by Kevin Manson.  The ump gave Manson a warning.  Next inning, the first Illini batter, Aaron Johnson was then hit by Michigan pitcher Zach Putnam who also got a warning.  Things seemed to settle down after that.

Michigan was pretty much in charge of the game from the very start, scoring three in the first and racking up the score to 8-2 by the fifth.  Altobelli’s homer gave Illini some life.  By the end of the fifth, Illinois had inched as close as three runs, 8-5 but that was as close they would get.  Michigan would tack on one more run in the seventh for what would be the final score:  Michigan 9 Illinois 5

Illini Stars of the Game:

Dominic Altobelli:  1 for 4, HR, 2 rbis (but 2 E-5s)

Joe Bonadonna:  2 for 5, 2B, run, rbi

Ryan Hastings:  2 for 4, run

Lefty Phil Haig pitched the last three innings.  He did allow one run but boy, he looked really impressive.  Five Ks!

Zach Putnam on the mound… and at the plate.

Meeting some old friends and new friends:

I saw Michigan starter Zach Putnam’s father in the visitor section.  I had met him at the Big Ten Tournament last year.  I introduced myself again and he remembered me.  I welcomed him to Champaign-Urbana.  He said he and his wife actually met here at University of Illinois so he was somewhat familiar with the town.  We had a nice chat, I gave him my card and let him get back to video taping the game (aside from starting the game, Zach was batting cleanup, telling you how valuable he is to the team).

Craig Lutes waiting for a pitch.

I also got a chance to chat up Illinois rightfielder Craig Lutes’ father, John.  He seemed like a really nice guy.

You can see more photos of today’s game (and some of practice before) here.

Illinois gets a chance for revenge Saturday (weather permitting) at 3:05pm.  It’ll be a doubleheader.  Mike Stankiewicz goes in the afternoon game and Scott Shaw pitches in the nightcap.

See you at the ballpark!

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