DQ Classic: Illinois, UW Stay UnbeatenFeatured
Late game rallies seems to be the undermining theme to this year’s Dairy Queen Classic in USBank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. For the second straight day it seemed no lead was safe as we saw yet another pair of late-game comebacks, just one day after we saw a Friday where all three winning teams overcame eighth inning deficits.
But huge kudos to Illinois and Washington who both staged big comebacks to win and improve to 2-and-0 in this Big 10-Pac 12 Challenge. Those two teams will meet in a Sunday matinee at the home of Super Bowl 52 and decide who will become the DQ Classic champion.
For the record, the official tally is now showing three wins by the Big 10 and three wins by the Pac 12. So Sunday will be a Showdown Sunday in more ways than one.
As Flounder from Animal House would say, “Oh boy is this GREAT!”
Here’s how the Saturday action shook out in the land of the Norse Gods…
UCLA righted the ship after blowing a late lead vs. Illinois on day one. No need to worry about the bullpen collapsing this time as starting pitcher Jon Olsen put together an complete game five-hitter and the offense gave him enough support.
Mich St. – 000 100 000 – 1 5 1
U.C.L.A – 100 102 00x – 4 7 0
WP: Jon Olsen, 2-0
LP: Ethan Landon, 0-2
– Ryan King, 2-for-4
– Justin Antoncic, 2-for-4, HR
– Michael Toglia, 3-for-3, HR, double, SB
– Jake Hirabayashi, 2-for-4, HR, 3RBI
Michigan State, 2-7
HOW IT WENT DOWN:
Thankfully for the Bruins there would be no late-inning drama this time.
Staff ace Jon Olsen lived up to his billing by tossing a complete game and relenting just five hits and zero walks. The Spartans got a home run from Justin Antoncic in the fourth inning, but other than that it was mostly smooth sailing for the junior righty. Olsen did manage to also chalk up eight Ks along the way and was hitting 91 on his fastball.
Offensively, the only thing the Bruins needed was Jake Hirabayashi, who had a career day, going 2-for-4 with his first career home run and three RBI. The junior third baseman also had a beautifully laid down RBI bunt that left MSU pitcher and first basemen Ethan Landon and Zack McGuire in no man’s land, accounting for an infield single.
But we can’t get away from this summation without mentioning the one-man wrecking crew that Michael Toglia was for UCLA today. The sophomore three-hole hitter started the game with a sonic home run, then followed that up with a leadoff double in the fourth (where he scored) and then a single and a walk to round out his perfect day at the dish.
Oh, he also made this catch of a pop-up in foul ground.
A few additional images from today’s first game…
Arizona took the lead in the sixth inning, but the Illini were completely unfazed, scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth innings and getting some pinpoint relief pitching to take down the Desert Cats and move on to Sunday.
Illinois.. – 100 100 110 – 4 11 0
Arizona – 100 002 000 – 3 6 1
WP: Ryan Thompson, 3-0
LP: Gil Luna, 0-1
Save: Joey Gerber, 3
– Bren Spillane, 2-for-4, double, 2RBI
– Michael Massey, 2-for-4, RBI
– Alfonso Rivas, 2-for-4, triple, RBI
– Ryan Haug, 2-for-4, RBI
– Illinois, 5-3
– Arizona, 5-5
HOW IT WENT DOWN:
Man, this Illini team is like silly putty. It takes the pain, it leaves an imprint and yet it just keeps rebounding into a new shape. It adapts. It adjusts. It keeps coming back.
In today’s second game, the Arizona Wildcats took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning thanks to a triple by Alfonso Rivas and an RBI single from Nick Quintana. But the Illini didn’t blush. The next half inning Ben Troike got a leadoff plunking, his second dose of the day. An RBI double from Bran Spillane then followed, scoring Troike and tying the score back up at three each.
But the real magic happened in the eighth inning where Spillane came to the dish with the bases loaded and had an 11-pitch at-bat before finally culling an RBI walk, giving the Illini the lead once again. It was also a lead the Orange Crush would not relinquish. In the eighth inning alone, the Illini forced Arizona to throw 41 pitches to six batters and included 12 foul offs. Here is the tweet that Illinois SID Brett Moore posted…
Back on the mound, two UI relievers combined to force the Wildcats to go three-and-out in each frame. Credit Ryan Thompson and Joey Gerber with shutting things down in order in the later innings. Combined with the six inning stint by starting pitcher Andy Fisher, the Illini arms gave up just the six hits and zero walks in the game.
“We didn’t play all that good in the first week of the season,” coach Dan Hartleb said afterward. “We gave up way too many walks. And I’ve been a little rough on them since then. I’ve challenged them, especially the pitching staff, and they’ve responded.”
Man, you gotta like these plucky Illini. They are afraid of nothing.
A few additional images from today’s second game…
For the second day in a row Washington rallies from behind to take a 10-inning victory here in the land of 10,000 lakes. Tonight, it was the host Gophers who were the victim of Udub’s late-inning magic.
Washington – 010 002 010 2 – 6 9 0
Minnesota. – 013 000 000 0 – 4 9 1
WP: Stevie Emanuels, 2-1
LP: Joshua Culliver, 1-1
– Nick Kahle, 2-for-4, RBI, scored game-winning run
– Levi Jordan, 2-for-5 RBI
– Joe Wainhouse, 2-for-5, double, RBI
– Terrin Vavra, HR, RBI
– Toby Hanson, 2-for-5, double, RBI
– Micah Coffey, 2-for-4, triple, RBI
– Washington, 6-3
– Minnesota, 8-3
HOW IT WENT DOWN:
For the second night in a row the Huskies come up aces once again as the game reaches extra innings. They rallied from an early 4-1 deficit and scored two runs in the sixth inning and a single run in the eighth to knot the game at 4-4.
But before we get to describing how they won this thing in extra innings, first we’ve got to give a shout-out to their bullpen. Starting pitcher Chris Micheles didn’t have his best stuff tonight, leaving a lot of pitches fat right over the plate. And a good-hitting team like Minnesota is going to capitalize on that, which they did.
But Lucas Knowles, Leo Bierenberg and Stevie Emanuels combined for 7.2 innings of scoreless work, giving up just four hits and one walk in all. Because of their effort, the Gophers (one of the top batting orders in the country) got quelled for the remainder of the game.
So the 10th inning… here’s how it went down.
Nick Kahle got the ball rolling with a one-out single. Levi Jordan, a hero in Friday night’s 4-3 win over Michigan State, slapped a double off the wall in left-center which scored a rumbling, stumbling, bumbling Kahle all the way from first to put the Dawgs up 5-4.
Then, lumberjacking DH Joe Wainhouse bounced a ground rule double just out of the reach of Minnesota left-fielderJordan Kozicky, scoring Jordan from second. That made it 6-4.
From there it was all about big Stevie. Mr. Emanuels tossed the final 1.1 innings and didn’t give up jack-squat. After giving up a hit and a walk in the 10th inning vs. Michigan State on Friday night, Emanuels was much more in clamp-down mode here, giving no hope to the homestanding Gophers and no sign of an 11th inning ahead.
As mentioned above, the Huskies now take their 2-0 mark at the Dairy Queen Classic up against fellow unbeaten Illinois to decide the champion for 2018.
A few additional images from today’s final game…