Scheelhaase expected to miss Saturday's Illini game


Scheelhaase expected to miss Saturday's Illini game

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who sprained his left ankle two weeks ago, is expected to miss his second straight game when the Illini host Charleston Southerntomorrowat Memorial Stadium, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
Reilly O'Toole is expected to make his second consecutive start, a week after throwing for 54 yards on 10-of-14 passing in a 45-14 loss to Arizona State. He also ran 12 times for 12 yards, while junior back-up Miles Osei threw for 47 yards and ran for 32 on the ground.
Scheelhaase practiced all week and Tuesday said he expected to play, but Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said head coach Tim Beckman did not feel his starting quarterback "was ready for game speed."
It may not make a difference, though. Charleston Southern (0-2) has lost its two games by 35 and 21 points, respectively, this year. The slow start comes on the heels of an 0-11 season in 2011 and a 3-8 season in 2010.

Finally getting a little luck, Kevan Smith comes up huge in White Sox comeback win

Finally getting a little luck, Kevan Smith comes up huge in White Sox comeback win

Hit ‘em where they ain’t, right?

Kevan Smith hasn’t had an overabundance of luck following that old baseball maxim in his short time up with the White Sox this season. But Monday, Smith came up with one of the game’s biggest hits, tattooing a ball into the right-field corner for a game-tying double in the seventh inning of the White Sox 5-4 comeback win over the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Hitting the ball hard hasn’t been a problem for Smith, but he’s run into some bad luck, hitting balls hard but right at fielders. Move some of those batted balls a little bit in one direction or the other, and Smith’s numbers could be very, very good.

On balls hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or greater, hitters across the league are hitting .539 (7,068-for-13,108), according to Entering Monday’s game, Smith was just 4-for-12 on such batted balls, making him significantly unluckier than the average hitter. That seventh-inning double had an exit velocity of 93 mph, coming close to the kind of hard contact Smith’s been making this season.

He’ll take coming through in the clutch Monday, though, contributing big time to the White Sox fourth win in their last five games.

Finally, Smith was able to hit it where they ain’t — or, if for nothing else but grammar's sake — where they weren’t.

“For once, right?” Smith said with a smile after the game. “Been working hard on my swing. It’s frustrating, obviously, whenever you hit it right at people, but that’s the way the game goes and that’s why you’ve got to realize it’s a ‘failing’ sport. You’ve got to get used to failing. But it fell for me today and in a big spot. So it felt good.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Smith’s numbers have been impressive of late. Including his 1-for-2 game Monday, he’s hitting .350 with three doubles in his last six games.

It’s nice for him to finally see some results from what’s been a good swing.

“That’s what’s tough because when you’re not getting hits, you think you have to do more, you think you have to get in the cage more. But you’re going to take hard hits all day long,” Smith said. “It’s just staying confident, trusting the work, just going out each day being consistent. And that’s what I’ve been doing, and hopefully they start falling a little more.”

Smith also made an impact on the base paths, coming around to score from second on Melky Cabrera’s infield single a few batters later. An aggressive two-out send from third-base coach Nick Capra set up the run, one that might not have scored if not for the throw bouncing away from Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez.

Instead, Smith slid in safely for the eventual game-winning run, delivering yet another win for the White Sox, who are feeling much better during a to-this-point 4-1 home stand since returning from a 3-7 road trip at the end of last week.

“I thought the ball got through,” Smith said of the play. “I knew he was playing up the middle a little bit because he was kind of stacked behind me at second. When he hit the ball, I was like I’m either going to hold up at third or he obviously got it. And then when he starts waving me, kind of caught me off guard. I thought it got through, but after I got in (to the dugout) I found out it didn’t. When he says go, I’m going. Fortunately it worked out in our favor.

“Obviously the rough road trip, but we had a lot of good games, we battled hard. And (manager Rick Renteria) got us together a little bit, kind of got us refocused and ready for this home stand. We have a good squad in here. We’re excited. We just have to trust that each of us are going to do our part, just come together and keep having big wins like this and getting this good energy in the clubhouse. Feels good.”

Benches clear as Bryce Harper charges mound in Nationals vs. Giants


Benches clear as Bryce Harper charges mound in Nationals vs. Giants

Fireworks came early when the Nationals-Giants ballgame turned into a wild boxing match on Monday. 

The gloves came off and benches cleared after San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland pegged 2015 N.L. MVP Bryce Harper with a fastball in the eighth inning.

To put it mildly, Harper did not take that too kindly as he charged the mound and launched his helmet in the direction of Strickland, missing wide. Punches for both parties, however, connected. Each side got in a nice right hook, leading to a massive scrum near the mound. 

It took about five Giants players and coaches to separate Strickland from the brawl, and even in the dugout he remained emotional. For Harper, it resulted in his ninth career ejection.   

The two competitors do have some history. Three years ago, Harper hit two home runs off of Strickland, admiring both for a long time. 

This is just Game 1 of the series, so the bad blood may be just beginning.