It was another stellar week for the Illini as they advance to the NCAA Super Regional and are set to face off against Vanderbilt in a best of three series starting on June 6. Illinois kicked off the week in lovely Champaign, IL by defeating Notre Dame in a 3-0 shutout behind a complete game by Drasen Johnson. This was the first career shut-out for Johnson. He got out of an early jam and allowed only three base runners after the third inning, striking out six and allowing only five hits. All of the Illini’s runs came in the fifth inning, scoring three runs on four hits.
Illinois then went on to face Wright State and recorded their 50th win of the season – a first in Illini history – with an 8-4 victory. Wright State had an early 2-0 lead after capitalizing on a two out error in the third. However, the Illini struck back with a four-run fifth inning behind an RBI double by Will Krug who went 3-4 on the day with two doubles, two stolen bases, two runs scored and two RBIs. The Raiders evened up the score in the fifth but after that it was all Illinois. Krug knocked in the go-ahead run with his second double of the day in the sixth and the Illini put up another three runs in the ninth including a two-run homerun by David Kerian. Tyler Jay pitched four scoreless innings and became Illinois’ all-time leader for single-season saves (14) and career saves (24). He surrendered only two base runners and had five strikeouts.
This is the first time in 11 appearances that the Illini have won their first two games of the tournament, advancing to the Super Regional for the first time in school history. Illinois hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday, Sunday and (if-needed) Monday at Illinois Field and a super-regional win locks them in as one of eight teams in the NCAA World Series. Senior David Kerian was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Champaign Regional, batting .625 with two home runs, two doubles, and five RBIs. Seniors Will Krug and Drasen Johnson were also named to the All-Tournament Team at the NCAA Champaign Regional. Krug batted .600 with five runs scored and two RBIs.
The road to Omaha goes through Champaign, IL.