May 16, 1997

Illinois Eliminates Purdue at the Big Ten Playoffs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Illinois ended the Purdue Boilermakers' season with an 8-3 victory at the double elimination Big Ten Baseball Tournament held at Ray Fisher Stadium Friday.

The Fighting Illini (32-26) received a strong pitching performance from junior right-hander Brett Weber (5-4), who threw a complete game allowing just five hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks. The win was significantly satisfying for Weber, who wanted to make up for a pair of poor outings against Indiana at the 1996 Big Ten Tournament, including the championship game in which he allowed 10 hits and five runs in an Indiana win.

With Illinois leading 4-1 after six innings, junior catcher Nick Nieckula cracked a three-run homer to left field off Purdue starter Chris Bloomer (6-3) to put the game out of reach for the Boilermakers (30-25). Purdue added two runs in the bottom of the eighth after shortstop Daryl Hallada led off the inning with a base hit folowed by a double down the left field line by center fielder Mark Tomsyck. Both players later scored on grounders to second base.

"I said yesterday that good pitching stops good hitting, and it did," said Purdue head coach Steve Green. "In retrospect, when I'm on the road this summer recruiting, I'm sure I'll reflect and say it was a good finish for a seventh place team."

Illinois 8, Purdue 3
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Illinois  011 110 400  -  8  11  0
Purdue    000 100 020  -  3   5  1
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Weber and Nieckula. Bloomer, Reder (7) and Grieco. WP - Weber (5-4). LP -
Bloomer (6-3). E - Ryan Cole (6). LOB - Illinois 9, Purdue 5. 2B - Svihlik
(6), Tomsyck (6). 3B - Tomsyck (5). HR - Nieckula (6). SH - Rhodes (5). SF
- Ellinger (2). SB - McClure (10), Rhodes (17), Svihlik (1), O'Neill (5).
CS - O'Neill (2), Hallada (1).