Roof gets the run the Illini need against Robert Morris

Last night I went to the University of Illinois baseball game against Robert Morris with my friends Brando and Shawn.

Shawn Roof took some time to chat with us about ball and bat physics

Before the game, Brando and I went down to the left field fence to watch the guys warm up. Shawn Roof gave a wave and came on over. He shook our hands and chatted with us for a few minutes. I congratulated him on their big 18-4 win over Illinois State. He seemed pretty pumped about that. I asked if Robert Morris was going to be an easy win. He shook his head saying they’re taking every game seriously and Robert Morris would definitely not be a “cakewalk”.

Roof also mentioned my blog post about Ryan Hastings heating his bat over the space heater during the cold days. He says their IS a reason for doing this. Doing this, he says, affects how the ball comes off the bat when it is hit. Hmm.. the more you know.

Thanks to Shawn for taking a few minutes of his time before the game. As for Robert Morris not being a “cakewalk”, no truer words were spoken as last night’s game was a hard fought battle.

The Illini took a quick one run lead in the bottom of the 3rd and never relinquished it but Robert Morris kept scoring to make it close. By the end of six, it was 3-2 good guys but RM scored a run in the top of the seventh to tie it 3-3.

Five Pitches. One Run. Without a Ball Being Hit.

Shawn Roof led off the bottom of the 8th. Robert Morris pitcher Chris Murchek plunked Roof in the upper arm and Roof took his base. I leaned over to Brando and said, “Here he goes!”. And Roof stole second on the first pitch. Brando and I wondered to each other will batter Ryan Hastings bunt in this situation? In a lot of situations, it would make sense but Hastings has been good with the stick so I didn’t think he would. Hastings didn’t square for the next pitch, he took it for a strike.

The next pitch, though, he squared for the bunt and the thirdbaseman rushed to cover for the bunt. The key here is that the shortstop didn’t cover third and Roof was banking on that. He stole third easily.

The very next pitch Murchek threw a wild pitch and Roof scored what proved to be the winning run.

Nice hustle by Roof! And give a little credit to Hastings for the faux bunt to draw the thirdbaseman away from the base.

Brian Long came in to pitch a perfect 9th for the save.

Joe Mercurio made the most of his start at catcher

Other highlights: Lars Davis was DH last night which meant New York freshman Joe Mercurio donned the tools of ignorance. It seems to me, whenever Merc gets the chance to play, he makes the most of it. He was 2 for 4 with a double, run and a rbi.

Dom Altobelli (left) goofing off before the game. He got serious when it came to playing the hot corner.

Dom Altobelli was playing thirdbase. He had a hit and a run but he really impressed me with his defense. One grounder in particular that I had given up on he somehow came up with and whipped over to firstbaseman Mike Rohde for the out. He also snared a line drive which could have easily gone for extras.

Here are the photos I took during the game.

Coming up: The Illini are heading to Iowa for a weekend series.

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