College baseball: Illinois' Bren Spillane dominating Big Ten, earning Player of the Week honors
Another week with Top-25 heavyweights battling it out, and the Florida Gators came out with one of the strongest performances of the week against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Not to mention a power bat in Illinois continues to stay hot.
College baseball rankings: Four newcomers in Top 25; top three stay put
Let’s take a deeper look at NCAA.com’s college baseball Team and Player of the Week:
Team of the Week
Talk about leaving your mark. After beating Jacksonville 10-3 in a week day matchup and dropping game one in a series to Arkansas over the weekend, Florida exploded in game two with a 17-2 win, and followed with a series-clinching 5-4 thriller in game three vs. the Razorbacks.
Not wasting any time in game two against Arkansas, Florida loaded the bases in the first inning for Jonathan India. The infielder proceeded to mash a grand slam to give the Gators a 4-0 lead, and they never looked back.
Florida added two runs in the second, six in the third and finished with five runs in the sixth to even the series at one heading into the rubber match.
Deacon Liput notched four base hits, three RBI and three runs while India added two hits, four RBI and three runs. Every Gator starter but one finished with either a hit or a run scored. Jackson Kowar (4-1) tossed six innings of two-run baseball (both runs given up in the fourth inning) to earn his fourth win on the season.
In game three, the Gators did just enough to squeak out the one-run victory. Blake Reese flied out to bring home the first run of the game in the second inning before Arkansas plated to runs in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.
However, the tables quickly turned in the bottom of the inning when Florida’s JJ Schwarz launched a two-run homer to push Florida back on top 3-2. The Razorbacks added a run in the fifth to tie the game, but the heroics game in the seventh for the Gators.
Nelson Maldonado had been in the midst of a 3-for-22 stretch at the plate, but with a runner on, the DH gave Florida the lead back with a two-run blast. The Gators held on the rest of the way, fighting off a run from Arkansas in the ninth to win 5-4.
The run in the SEC continues for Florida after a one game tilt with Florida State. The Gators host Vanderbilt to end the month of March and kick off April.
Player of the Week
Bren Spillane has been off to a roaring start this season. The Big Ten leader in batting average continued to put on a show last week by hitting a blistering .643. But that was not all the power bat did for the Illini.
In four games, the junior tallied 10 RBI, three home runs, nine hits (9-14), five walks and seven runs. It all started with a midweek, 12-7 win against Cal State Northridge.
.@bren_spillane is the Big Ten leader in...— Illini Baseball (@IlliniBaseball) March 26, 2018
On-base percentage (.528)
Home Runs (9)
Hits per game (1.75)
Runs per game (1.15)
Total bases (76) pic.twitter.com/ukW2Wu4kA2
Spillane dominated CSUN pitching with three hits, two of them home runs, and a career-high EIGHT RBI. He tied his season-high of three runs on his way to a career day.
The pace did not slow down for the utility man. In the series at Northwestern, Spillane blasted a three-run homer in game one, while leading the way with a 2-5 day in game two, and a 3-4 performance in game three to help the Illini earn the sweep of Northwestern.
The week for Spillane totaled a line of .643/.737/1.500, 3 HR, 3 2B, and 10 RBI. The junior has been the anchor for Illinois all season, leading the Big Ten in on-base percentage (.528), slugging (1.000), doubles (12), home runs (9), RBIs (31), and total bases (76).
Hats off to you, Mr. Spillane, for a week to remember.