April 28, 2009
By Jeff Honza
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - No. 28 Illinois (27-12) used two home runs, including a grand slam by Willie Argo to propel a 5-1 win over Southern Illinois University (18-24) Tuesday night at Illinois Field.
llinois, which moved to No. 28 in this week's Collegiate Baseball Poll, beat SIU for the eighth time in its last 10 tries. The Illini also extended their winning streak to four games.
Junior righthander Nathan Forer took the mound for his first career midweek start, and was strong early, allowing just two hits in three scoreless innings.
Forer, however, came apart in the fourth, where the Fighting Illini loaded the bases with no outs and scored five times on two home runs.
Brandon Wikoff rallied the Illini with a leadoff solo home run to right. Dominic Altobelli belted a first-pitch double to left center, Aaron Johnson was hit by a pitch on a two-strike count and Matt Dittman walked to load the bases. Shortly after Pete Cappetta flied out to right, Argo crushed Forer's 1-0 offering deep over the left field wall to give Illinois a 5-0 lead. The home run marked Argo's team-high ninth of the season.
SIU had plenty of chances to get back in the game, namely in the sixth inning. The Salukis had the bases loaded with two outs when Illini leftfielder Casey McMurray robbed Tyler Bullock of a bases clearing double with a diving catch in the left center gap.
Righthanded reliever Mike Sterk (1-1) was credited with the win after allowing one hit and striking out two in two scoreless innings. Sterk was one of five Illini pitchers to take the mound on the night.
Offensively, SIU outhit Illinois, 8-7, with three of its hits coming from Roberts. Roberts went 3-for-4 with one RBI to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He is the third Saluki on a double-digit game hitting streak this year.
Wikoff and Altobelli led the Illini with two hits each, while Argo had a game-high four RBI.
Illinois also committed two errors on the night.
Illinois scored in only two innings (six runs in top of sixth on Apr. 15 and five runs in bottom of fourth tonight) over two games against SIU this year.
SIU squares off against Eastern Illinois in Mattoon on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., CT, at Peterson Park.