Memorial Day has usually been a day for the Illini baseball team to kick back, hang up their spikes and relax after a long season. However, for the first time in over a decade, Illinois will take the field after the holiday and compete in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini will square off against perennial powerhouse Cal State Fullerton (40-15), who will host the regional as the top seed. It will be Illinois’ first tournament appearance since 2000.
It did not appear early on this team would be the one to break the streak, sporting a 13-21 record in late April. Something clicked for Coach Dan Hartleb’s squad, however, as the Illini ended the regular season on an 8-2 tear, tying for the Big Ten regular season title. Behind hot hitting from Justin Parr, Willie Argo and others, in addition to great pitching, the Illini ran through the Big Ten Tournament, defeating the Michigan St. Spartans 9-1 in the championship game.
The game at Cal State Fullerton will be played Friday at 10 PM CT and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.