Illinois scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning and held on to defeat Ohio State, 3-2, in the opening game of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament (Box Score). The Buckeyes head to the loser's bracket and will play again Thursday at 12:05 p.m. against sixth-seeded Indiana, which lost 6-1 to third-seeded Penn State (Box Score).
Illinois scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first. Catcher Dan Burkhart's throwing error trying to nab Kyle Hudson on his steal of second allowed him to reach third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Wikoff.
Burkhart made amends in the top of the second when he drove in Cory Kovanda and Zach Hurley with a two-out double to left center to move the Buckeyes in front 2-1. Both runs were unearned.
Illinois tied it up again in the bottom of the third and it remained that way until Joe Bonadonna hit a solo home run in the seventh to lift his team to victory. The Fighting Illini also got a complete game from starter Kevin Manson.
Ryan Dew delivered a lead-off pinch-hit single to start the ninth, but J.B. Shuck hit into a double play and Justin Miller, who needed a hit in his final at bat to extend his 14-game hit streak, flied out to end the game. Dew's single was just the fourth hit of the game for the Buckeyes. Other hits came from Hurley, Kovanda and Burkhart, who finished the game with a pair of RBI. The four hits represented a season low.
Fifth-year senior and three-time captain Dan DeLucia (who is an OSU finalist for the Big Ten Medal of Honor) pitched four innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in what could be his final outing in a Buckeye uniform. He walked three and struck out three before the coaching staff went to Dean Wolosiansky, who pitched 3.0 innings and allowed the go-ahead run in the seventh. He allowed five hits before handing the eighth inning to Eric Best.
The trio combined to allow 11 hits in an incredibly tight ball game. Wikoff, Aaron Johnson and Ryan Hastings each had two hits for the Illini.
Jake Hale is expected to start Thursday for Ohio State vs. Indiana. The Buckeyes and Hoosiers did not meet in 2008.
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