Fix it on the Fly? Yikes.
Yikes. Oof. Bleepin' Squawkeyes (Insert your own adjective here for how you felt about seeing our Illini 9 go to Iowa City for their opening Big 10 series and get swept. On a weekend where Bruce Pearl, one of the scummiest Squawkeyes of all time somehow gets sainted, but I digress).
I have a bad feeling about where this goes. Don't get me wrong, Iowa can be a good squad. But for every series win over No. 24-ranked Oklahoma State and our then-ranked No. 25 Illini, there's them getting swept at Indiana and Evansville taking two out of three from them.
So much went wrong here. Start with Friday, where the Illini hurlers walked eight hitters and struck out just four. All of a sudden, a game that was fairly even in terms of runs and hits gets out of hand because the Squawks get four extra baserunners off of reliever Sean Leland. That offset multi-hit games from Ben Troike, Michael Massey, Kellen Sarver and Jack Yalowitz.
All told, the Illini walked a total of 20 hitters in three games this weekend. And then there were offensive sputters that started in a mid-week loss to Indiana State. The Illini offense averaged less than two runs per game in four games last week. Yikes, indeed.
This is where the fear kicks in. We've all seen the argument that the baseball calendar isn't kind to northern schools. It is especially unkind in the latter part of the conference schedule. In an effort to play as many games as possible, you start scheduling multiple mid-week games.
This week's mid-week contests just happen to include a rare visit from a southern school. No. 19-ranked Coastal Carolina, the 2016 National Champions, will visit for a two-game set starting Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and continuing Wednesday night. So there's a very real possibility that this losing streak could reach six games.
That's a tough fix on the fly no matter who you are. The worry is that all those obstacles the Illini have overcome so far catch up to them now at perhaps the worst possible time.
You can catch this pivotal two-game set on TV Tuesday night with the national broadcast on BTN. Or, if you're a foodie, head out to Illinois Field both nights to catch the "Illini Slugger" a foot-long, bacon-wrapped and deep fried hot dog that looks nothing short of amazing!