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Illinois Lands Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith

The Illini men’s basketball team recorded a big win last night even without being on the court. Mark Smith, Mr. Basketball in Illinois, chose to play at the U of I next year. 
 
Smith a four star recruit from Edwardsville picked the Illini after hearing from the top teams in the nation. At the end he was picking from Illinois, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke.
 
 
Smith averaged 22 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds a game last year. He’s also close with Jeremiah Tilmon who de-committed to Illinois but has yet to select another school to play for.

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Bears Trade Up for QB Trubisky; Packers Trade Out of First Round

Mitchell Trubisky didn't see it coming either.
 
The Chicago Bears drafted their latest quarterback of the future in a stunner Thursday night, grabbing North Carolina's Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick after trading up a spot with the San Francisco 49ers and surrendering three draft choices to do it.
There was some thought the Bears might wait a round or two before taking a quarterback after signing Mike Glennon last month to replace the departed Jay Cutler. Instead, they swapped picks with the 49ers and gave them a third- and fourth-round choice this year plus a third-rounder next year. It was a surprising move, particularly since San Francisco general manager John Lynch was ready to take Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas at No. 2.
 
The 6-foot-2, 222-pound Trubisky had little contact with the Bears leading up to the draft. He met with them at the combine and had another meeting with them around his pro day last month.
 
Trubisky had a breakout junior season for the Tar Heels last year. He set the single-season the school's single-season record for yards passing (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056) in 2016. He ranked fifth in the country with a 68.0 completion percentage while throwing just six interceptions. He also ran for five touchdowns last season, after backing up quarterback Marquise Williams as a freshman and sophomore.
 
The Bears finished last in the NFC North at 3-13 in their second season under general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox. Years of shoddy drafting combined with a long list of injuries exposed a glaring lack of depth. It all added up to Chicago's lowest win total since the 1973 team went 3-11, the most losses since a 1-13 finish in 1969 and a busy offseason for a rebuilding team.
 
The Bears dumped Cutler after eight seasons and signed Glennon, giving them some leeway to wait on a QB. But Pace jumped at the opportunity to take Trubisky.
 
He might back up Glennon at first, though Chicago is counting on him to develop into the star quarterback the franchise has lacked so many seasons with his arm strength and quickness.
 
>>Packers Trade Out of First Round
 
After taking Myles Garrett with the first-overall pick, they traded down in the first round and landed Jabrill Peppers at No. 25. Not to be outdone, the Browns traded back into the first round for another selection, this time moving up from No. 33 to No. 29, swapping places with the Packers. And for their troubles, the Packers also get the Browns' 2017 fourth-round pick.
 
Cleveland, with needs up and down the roster, finally addressed the offense -- but not with a quarterback. Instead, it took one of the most athletic tight ends in the entire class, former Miami standout David Njoku, with the No. 29 pick.
 
The Packers meanwhile, are still looking for defensive help, either at pass rusher or in the secondary.

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Cardinals Sweep Thursday Double Header, Series

After rallying late to win the first game, backed by Randal Grichuk's ninth-inning homer and Matt Carpenter's 11th inning grand slam, the Cardinals scored early and often in the nightcap to beat the Blue Jays 6-4 and sweep the doubleheader.
 
The Cardinals, who got back to .500 at 11-11, recorded 14 runs and 25 hits in the two games. The injury-plagued Blue Jays, the only team in the majors yet to win a series or consecutive games, fell to 6-16.
 
The Cardinals, who got three hits apiece from Dexter Fowler, Greg Garcia and Matt Adams in the second game, scored three times in the first inning.
 
After Fowler and Garcia hit back-to-back singles, Carpenter plated a run with a groundout and Stephen Piscotty hit an RBI sacrifice fly. Grichuk followed with an infield single and scored on Matt Adams' opposite-field double into the left field corner.
 
Fowler added a solo home run, his third of the season, in the second inning. Adams had an RBI single in the third. Piscotty had an RBI fielder's choice in the fourth to make it 6-0.
 
Matt Bowman (1-0) won the opener and the Cardinals' bullpen, which included seven different pitchers, combined to allow just one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings over the two games.
 
Ryan Tepera (1-1) and Casey Lawrence (0-3) took the losses.
 
In the opener, the Cardinals scored four times off Toronto's bullpen in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to tie the score, capped by Randal Grichuk's homer off Roberto Osuna.
 
Yadier Molina led off with a double and Grichuk connected two outs later, giving Osuna his third blown save.
 
Mat Latos, making his second start of the season for Toronto, scattered three hits over six shutout innings, striking out four and walking four.
 
Carlos Martinez allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, with eight strikeouts and three walks.
 
Russell Martin hit a solo homer in the second, his third of the year.
 
Lance Lynn (2-1, 2.70) opens a three-game series against the visiting Reds. Lynn won his last two starts, against the Pirates and Brewers, allowing just one run on six hits over 13 innings.

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Sox Win, Cubs Lose, Cardinals Rained Out

Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia homered to back run-starved starter Jose Quintana and the Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Chicago won its fourth straight, while Kansas City dropped every game on a seven-game trip.
 
Quintana (1-4) had a season-high 10 strikeouts in six innings. He allowed five hits and two runs - one earned - and walked two. The left-hander received only four runs of support in his first four starts combined.
 
Avisail Garcia's two-run homer, his fourth of the season, went to deep center field in the sixth inning to give Chicago a 4-2 lead. Leury Garcia put a line drive over the fence in right to close the scoring in the seventh.
 
Right-hander Nathan Karns (0-2) was the loser.
 
>>Pirates Beat Cubs
 
Gift Ngoepe, the first African to reach the major leagues, singled in his first plate appearance and Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run Wednesday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Ngoepe was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and entered the game in fourth inning as part of a double switch and finished 1 for 2 with a walk. The 27-year-old South African, who signed with the Pirates in 2008 as an amateur free agent, led off the bottom of the fourth with a hit off winless Cubs ace Jon Lester.
 
A year after winning 19 games in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, Lester (0-1) is still looking for his first victory after five starts. The left-hander was tagged for six runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
 
Wade LeBlanc (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of rookie Tyler Glansow, got the win.
 
>>Cardinals, Blue Jays Canceled, Double-Header Thursday
 
The St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night has been postponed because of rain.
 
The game has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. The first game will start as scheduled at 12:45 p.m. The makeup game will start at 6:15 p.m.
 
St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez, who is still in search of his first win, had been scheduled to start Wednesday night. Mat Latos was to start for Toronto.

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Predators Outlast Blues

Vernon Fiddler scored with 5:05 left and P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists, powering Nashville to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Wednesday.
 
The Predators lost Kevin Fiala to an ugly leg injury in the second period and blew a 3-1 lead before Fiddler poked a loose puck by Jake Allen in the third.
 
Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.
 
Colton Parayko, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka scored for St. Louis. Allen finished with 28 stops, but lamented the one he didn't make. He tried to poke check the puck away from Fiddler and instead it ended up getting past him.
 
Game 2 is Friday night.

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Celtics Down Bulls For 3-2 Series Lead

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley scored 24 points apiece to help the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 108-97 on Wednesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
After the road team won each of the first four games, the Celtics won at home in Game 5 to earn a chance to eliminate the Bulls on Friday night in Chicago. A Bulls victory would force the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
 
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Chicago.
 
But Wade and Robin Lopez were called for technical fouls 32 seconds apart with just under five minutes left, helping the Celtics to a 20-5 run that gave them a 104-89 lead.

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Packers Add Pro Bowl Guard Evans

Six weeks after watching starting right guard T.J. Lang sign with the Lions, the Packers might have finally found his replacement. 
 
General manager Ted Thompson announced on Wednesday that the team has signed former Saints guard Jahri Evans in a move that should instantly help the Packers. 
The 33-year-old Evans arrives in Green Bay after spending his entire 11-year career in New Orleans. During his time with the Saints, Evans was voted to six Pro Bowls and named first-team All Pro a total of four times.
 
The Saints released him in February 2016 after he was unwilling to take a pay cut. 
 
Six months later, Evans finally found a job in Seattle, signing a deal with the Seahawks during the middle of training camp in August . 
 
The veteran lineman didn't last in Seattle very long, though. Despite their atrocious offensive line, the Seahawks decided to cut Evans before the 2016 regular season even started. 
 
The addition of Evans likely means the Packers won't necessarily have to spend a pick on an offensive guard during the NFL Draft, which kicks off on Thursday. 

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Maroons Outlast St. Teresa

The Clinton Maroons built an 8-0 lead Monday afternoon with Decatur St. Teresa in town and held on as the Bulldogs rallied for 7-runs in the sixth and seventh innings for a 8-7 win in Central Illinois Conference boys baseball action.
Jake Wade picked up the win, pitching 6.1 innings allowing six runs, though one was earned, on on eight hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Wesley Conn got the final two outs for the save with a pair of strikeouts and walks and allowed an unearned run.
 
Conn finished 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Wade was 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of runs batted in. Parker West and Travis Osgood finished 2-for-3.
 
Seth Gillespey was the losing pitcher for St. T. He finished four innings, allowing five runs, one earned with four strikeouts and no walks. He permitted eight hits.
 
Joey Martini finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles for the Bulldogs. Mac Handley drove in a pair of runs as well.
 
There were a total of nine erros between the two sides Monday and a combined 19 hits. 
 
The Maroons are now 8-10 overall and are 4-5 in Central Illinois Conference play. 

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White Sox, Cubs Win Big

Matt Davidson had two hits and three RBIs in an eight-run sixth, Chicago's highest-scoring inning in five years, and the White Sox routed the struggling Kansas City Royals 12-1 on Monday night.
Miguel Gonzalez (3-0) lowered his ERA to 2.00, allowing an unearned run and two hits in eight innings.
 
Davidson set a career-high with three hits and tied his best with four RBIs. Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier and Tyler Saladino drove in two runs each for the White Sox, who out-hit the Royals 15-2.
 
Chicago put together its high-scoring inning since a nine-run fifth against Texas on July 3, 2012. The Royals have lost five straight and scored a major league-low 47 runs.
 
Jason Vargas (3-1) gave up four runs - three earned - and seven hits in five innings. His ERA rose from a big league-best 0.44 to 1.40.
 
>>Cubs Crush Pirates
 
Addison Russell set a career high with four hits, Jason Heyward homered for the third time in four games and drove in four runs as the Chicago Cubs jumped on the Pittsburgh Pirates early in a 14-3 victory on Monday night.
Ben Zobrist added three RBIs for Chicago as the defending World Series champions won for the fifth time in six games. Anthony Rizzo had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero all had two hits apiece for the Cubs.
 
Chicago scored four runs with two outs in the first inning off Chad Kuhl (1-2) and added five more in the second to give Brett Anderson (2-0) all the breathing room he would need.
 
Anderson struggled at times with his command, walking six in six innings while striking out three and allowed three runs, one earned.

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Blackhawks Fire Assistant Coach Kitchen

The Chicago Blackhawks have fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen.
Kitchen joined coach Joel Quenneville's staff in July 2010. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.
 
The team announced the move on Monday. General manager Stan Bowman says in a release they "believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward."
 
The Blackhawks won the Central Division this season with a 50-23-9 record, finishing with the most points in the Western Conference. But they were swept by Nashville in the first round of the playoffs, managing just three goals in the series.

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Maroons Lose Friday, Split Saturday

It was a busy weekend for the Clinton Maroons boys baseball squad this weekend, who were in conference action Friday afternoon then a round robin tournament Saturday at Bloomington Central Catholic.
 
Central A&M rallied late on Friday to come from behind and beat Clinton 4-3 in eight innings from Central A&M High School. 
 
The Raiders rallied to tie the score at 3 in the bottom of the seventh and force extra innings, then scored in the bottom of the eighth for the walk off win.
 
Matthew Overton hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to give the Maroons a 3-1 advantage. 
 
Logan Peterson also had a double on the afternoon.
 
Mac Hickman started for the Maroons, allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits with 11 strikeouts and four walks issued.
 
Wesley Conn took the loss for Clinton. He allowed a run, a hit, a walk and struck out out three. 
 
The Maroons then hit the road north for a Saturday twin-bill at Bloomington Central Catholic where they split their two games there.
 
In game one, opposite Bloomington Central Catholic, Bobby Oates was too much on the mound as the Saints topped Clinton 7-1.
 
Oates allowed an unearned run on seven hits with a pair of walks and nine strikeouts. 
 
Parker West started for the Maroons. He went six innings, allowing seven runs on 13 hits with two strikeouts and no walks. 
 
Rustin Wertz led the Maroons, going 2-for-2 while Hunter Lash had a double.
 
BCC was led by Gage Juarez, who went 3-for-4. Keegan Bridges finished 2-for-4 with three RBI.  Bridges, Sam Heaton and Matt Barnes each added doubles for the Saints.
 
In game two, Keaton Thayer threw five innings of two hit, two run ball and the Maroons doubled up Salt Fork 4-2. Thayer had just one strikeout but did not walk anyone and allowed just an earned run. 
 
Logan Peterson went an 1.1 and Jake Wade finished out the final out for the save.
 
Wade, Mac Hickman and Matthew Overton each finished with RBI. 
 
After all three ball games this weekend, the Maroons are 7-10 overall and are 3-5 in Central Illinois Conference action.

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Illinois, Illinois State Drop Weekend Three Game Sets

Purdue scored an unearned run in the ninth inning Sunday for a walk-off 2-1 win over the Illinois baseball team and he Boilermakers completed a three-game sweep of Illinois.
 
A ground ball to third with a runner on second base and two outs in the ninth got under the glove of Trent Hammond to win it for Purdue (22-18, 9-6 Big Ten). It was Purdue's first Big Ten sweep since March 2013 at Penn State.
 
Purdue's Mike Kornacker (5.2 IP, 2 H) and Cameron Williams (1.2 IP, 2 H) shut out the Illini through the first seven innings. Illinois (15-22, 3-9 Big Ten) had opportunities to score in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but stranded five base runners through the three-inning stretch.
 
Michael Massey extended his hitting streak to a season high nine games with a single in top of the seventh.
 
The Illini play Tuesday at Bradley before continuing Big Ten play next weekend at Minnesota.
 
>>Bradley Takes Rubber Match of Series With Illinois State
 
Luke Shadid's two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the rubber game of a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series, as Bradley earned an 8-6 win over Illinois State Sunday afternoon at Dozer Park.
Illinois State (11-27, 1-8 MVC) took advantage of four Bradley errors Sunday and led by three runs after the top of the sixth inning. The Braves tied it up in the bottom of the sixth, however, and then won it on Shadid's homer in the bottom of the eighth.  
 
Owen Miller went 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI for Illinois State. Nick Zouras went 2-for-5, also with a pair of doubles.
 
The Redbirds return to action Tuesday when they host Western Illinois at Duffy Bass Field at 6 p.m. 

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Cardinals, Sox Win; Cubs Lose

Mike Leake allowed two runs over six innings and drove in two runs to lead St. Louis to a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, the Cardinals' sixth win in seven games.
Leake (3-1) gave up three hits and three walks while striking out six. He scored a run in the third inning and his two-run single capped a three-run fourth when St. Louis took a 4-2 lead.
 
The Cardinals took advantage of six walks by Jimmy Nelson (1-1) and an error by the Brewers for their first four runs.
 
Nelson's lack of command led to the three runs in the fourth.
 
Nelson, who had walked just three in his first three starts, allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is now 0-8 in 10 games, including nine starts, against St. Louis.
 
Cardinals 1B Matt Carpenter and manager Mike Matheny were ejected in the seventh inning by home plate umpire John Tumpane after Carpenter was called out on strikes.
 
After a day off, the Cardinals return home to open a three-game set against Toronto on Tuesday. RHP Michael Wacha (2-1, 2.41) makes his fourth start. He allowed just one run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings his last time out.
 
>>Holland Sharp Again as White Sox Down Indians
 
Melky Cabrera drove in a pair of runs, Derek Holland tossed six strong innings and the Chicago White Sox busted out of an offensive funk for a 6-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia each added run-scoring hits for Chicago, which had managed a total of six hits in the first two games of the series. The win snapped a three-game skid.
 
Francisco Lindor homered for Cleveland, which had its five-game winning streak end.
 
Holland (2-2) allowed one run on three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out six in lowering his earned run average to 1.99. Holland is now 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA against Cleveland in his career.
 
Indians starter Danny Salazar (1-2) allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
 
>>Arroyo, Reds Offense Too Much for Cubs
 
At 40, Bronson Arroyo gave the best performance during his long comeback, pitching three-hit ball over six innings Sunday as the Cincinnati Reds salvaged a 7-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Arroyo (2-2) allowed Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer - his third of the series - and struck out seven batters for the first time since May 13, 2014. The lanky right-hander has needed more than two years to recover from Tommy John surgery.
 
Raisesl Iglesias gave up a pair of runs in the ninth before finishing off the Reds' 3-7 homestand.
 
Patrick Kivlehan's bases-loaded double highlighted a four-run sixth inning off John Lackey (1-3) and decided a matchup of up-in-years starters. The 38-year-old Lackey and Arroyo have combined for 793 starts in the majors.

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After First Round Exit, Changes Coming for Blackhawks

Coach Joel Quenneville will be back next season. Everything else is on the table for the Chicago Blackhawks.
General manager Stan Bowman is promising changes after Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, were swept by Nashville this time around, managing just three goals in 13 periods.
 
A frustrated Bowman called the result "unacceptable" on Saturday. He says Quenneville will be back but stopped short of guaranteeing pretty much anything else for next season.
 
Bowman says: "We're going to conduct a thorough review and see where it takes us." Asked if he felt the Blackhawks' intensity level against the Predators was acceptable, he said, "No."

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Celtics Even Series With Bulls; Pacers Eliminated

Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.
Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.
 
Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
 
Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.
 
Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists.
 
>>Cavaliers Bounce Pacers in First Round
 
LeBron James made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:08 to play and helping the defending champions hold on for a series-clinching 106-102 victory at Indiana.
 
James finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.
 
James' teams have eliminated the Pacers four times in six years and completed the first-four game sweep in Indiana's NBA history. 
 
Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 22 points. Paul George had a series-low 15.

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Brewers Storm Back TO Beat Cardinals

Jett Bandy, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw each hit home runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Thursday night.
 
Bandy hit a two-run homer to left in the sixth and Thames put Milwaukee ahead with a two-run shot to center off Carlos Martinez (0-3) in the fifth. Shaw's three-run blast in the first made it 12 consecutive games that the Brewers have homered. They lead the majors with 32 home runs.
 
Shaw's fifth home run of the season traveled 458 feet and smacked off the facing of the third deck in right.
 
Martinez gave up a career-high five runs to the Brewers on seven hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
 
Zach Davies (1-2) allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five, but needed Thames' NL-leading eighth home run and seventh in the last eight games for his first win in four starts.
 
Jacob Barnes pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.
 
Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth and Kolten Wong, whose career-high seven triples led the Cardinals in 2016, hit his first of the season in the top of the second with the bases loaded.
 
Jedd Gyorko hit a solo home run leading off the Cardinals' eighth.
 
Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.24 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. With a win, he passes Dizzy Dean (134) for sole possession of 6th place all-time in franchise history. He is 14-8 (2.16 ERA) in 28 career starts against the Brewers.
 
Wily Peralta (3-0, 2.65) makes his fourth start of the season and 17th overall against the Cardinals who have been tough on him. He is 0-7 with a 4.85 ERA in his last nine starts against St. Louis.

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St. Joe-Ogden Blanks Monticello

Tori Witruck threw seven shut out innings and the St. Joseph-Ogden Lady Spartans beat Monticello 7-0 on Thursday afternoon in Okaw Valley girls softball action from St. Joe.
Witruck struck out six, walking two and permitted only three hits. She also hit a solo home run in the second inning drove in a run in the fifth with a sacrafice fly. She was 1-for-2.
 
Allie Place finished 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Katelyn Burch added an RBI and Logan Frerichs went 1-for-2 with a double.
 
Leslie Taylor, Delanie Hildebrandt, and Carly Wichus tallied the only three hits of the afternoon for the Lady Sages.
 
Taylor went six innings in the circle for Monticello, allowing seven runs on five hits, issued eight walks and struck out three.

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Predators Sweep Blackhawks Out of First Round

Roman Josi scored twice, Pekka Rinne had 30 saves and the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday night to complete a surprising sweep of the Western Conference's top seed.
 
Colton Sissons also scored and Viktor Arvidsson added an empty-net goal as Nashville completed the franchise's first playoff sweep. Led by Rinne and a terrific defensive performance by their lines and defensive pairings, the Predators limited the high-scoring Blackhawks to just three goals in 13 periods.
 
Nashville will face the winner of the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the second round. The Blues have a 3-1 lead heading into Game 5 on Saturday in Minnesota.

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NFL Releases 2017 Schedule

The NFL announced its 2017 schedule on Thursday night, and the defending champion Patriots are scheduled to lead off festivities on Thursday, Sept. 7 against the Chiefs. A few days later, the Cowboys and Giants will meet in Dallas in the opener for both teams in what's becoming an annual Week 1 tradition. 
Other notable games in Week 1 include a heavyweight clash between likely NFC contenders in Green Bay, where the Packers will welcome the Seahawks, and the defending NFC champion Falcons hitting the road to face the Bears.
 
The first London game of the season is on tap for Week 3, with the Ravens taking on the Jaguars in what's becoming their second home.  The Saints and Dolphins will follow with another London game in Week 4, and then the Cardinals and Rams face in London in Week 7. The Vikings and Browns close out the London slate the following week.
 
Week 7 also brings a Super Bowl rematch between the Falcons and Patriots on Sunday Night Football in New England.
 
The Patriots head to Mexico City to face the Raiders in Week 11, with Oakland sacrifice one of a dwindling number of remaining home games for the city.
 
The Packers will be on Sunday Night Football in week 2 where they travel to Atlanta.
Chicago and Green Bay will clash on Thursday Night Football to kick off week 4 action. 
 
A matchup with the Cowboys awaits Green Bay in week 5 in Dallas.
 
The Packers return to prime time with a matchup on Monday Night Football hosting Detroit in Week 9. 
 
The Bears will host the Vikings on Monday Night Football to finish off week 5. The Bears host Green Bay Nov. 12 for a noon start time. 
 
The Bears draw a Saturday matchup at Detroit on Dec. 16 as a part of week 16. 
 
The Bears are on bye Week 9 while Green Bay gets their bye week 8. 

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LeBron Leads Record Comeback for 3-0 Series Lead Over Indiana

LeBron James scored 41 points while padding his postseason resume with yet another triple-double, leading defending champion Cleveland back from a 25-point halftime deficit to a 119-114 victory over the Pacers on Thursday night.
He scored 28 in the second half and finished with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, moving past Kobe Bryant and into third on the NBA's playoff scoring list. Bryant had 5,640 points; James now has 5,669.
 
Paul George did everything he could to get Indiana back in the series. He scored 36 points, grabbed a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and finishing with nine assists, one short of his second postseason triple-double.
 
Jeff Teague finished with 15 points and seven assists. Lance Stephenson had 13 points.
 
Irving, Love, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye all scored 13 points.
 
Cleveland has won six straight over Indiana.
 
On Sunday, Indiana will try to stave off elimination when it hosts Cleveland for Game 4.

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ISU Falls Short At Notre Dame

The Illinois State baseball team came up one run short in a midweek nonconference game at Notre Dame, falling to the Fighting Irish by a 7-6 count at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
Trailing by four runs after three innings, the Redbirds scratched out a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to get within a run of the hosts' lead. But Illinois State (10-25) was unable to score again over the final three innings.
 
The loss spoiled strong performances at the plate from John Rave (3-for-5), Zach Barnhart (2-for-4) and Owen Miller (2-for-5), and solid outings from a quintet of Redbird relievers, which held the Fighting Irish scoreless over the final five-plus innings.
 
Matt Walker, Michael Sebby, Jack Spicer, Nick Alvarado and Jack Bellinger kept Notre Dame (17-20) off the scoreboard over the final 5.1 innings.
 
The Redbirds return to action this weekend with a three-game series at Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley, beginning Friday. 

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Clinton Outlasts Shelbyville in 12 Inning Marathon

The Clinton Maroons scored in the bottom of the 12th inning to win 1-0 in a 12 inning Central Illinois Conference marathon Wednesday afternoon at Clinton High School.
Parker West drove in the game winning RBI to break the scoreless tie and send Clinton to their sixth win of the season.
 
Travis Osgood pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, allowing four walks and striking out 11.
 
Keaton Thayer pitched the final four innings, allowing three hits, a walk and struck out four en rout to his second victory of the season.
 
Levi Nettles paced the Maroons offense, going 2-for-3 with a double. 
 
Peyton Howell went 3-for-5 for Shelbyville. 
 
Clinton is now 6-8 on the season and 3-4 in the CIC. 

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Cubs Rally, Cardinals Win; Sox Lose

Addison Russell hit a three-run homer off Neftali Feliz that capped a four-run ninth inning and lifted the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 Wednesday.
Chicago trailed 4-1 before Willson Contreras' RBI single in the sixth Carlos Torres, and Russell's run-scoring single cut the deficit to one run in the eighth.
 
Trying for his first four-out save this year, Feliz (0-2) struck out Javier Baez to strand a runner on third. But Jon Jay walked with one out in the ninth, took third on a single by pinch-hitter Miguel Montero and scored on Kris Bryant's single.
 
Anthony Rizzo ground out, and Russell hit his second home run this season, a drive into the left-field bleachers.
 
Wade Davis (2-0) worked around a walk in the ninth to win in relief of Kyle Hendricks, who tied his career-high with four walks in five innings. Travis Shaw and Jett Bandy homered off Hendricks, who finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year.
 
>>Cardinals Hold Off Pirates
 
Dexter Fowler hit his first two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals, who swept the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday with their third straight 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
Josh Bell had tied the score with a fourth-inning homer to center against Michael Wacha (2-1), who had retired his first 10 batters.
 
St. Louis is 6-9, winning its opener and losing nine of 11 before the sweep.
 
Wacha allowed one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Matt Bowman relieved with two on and struck out Jordy Mercer to end the seventh, and Kevin Siegrist worked around a walk and two errors in the eighth. Pittsburgh left the bases loaded when Carpenter, who committed the first error, made a diving stop at first base and raced to beat Gregory Polanco to first.
 
Gerritt Cole gave up six hits in six innings, struck out eight and walked none.
 
Carlos Martinez (0-2, 3.57) will open a four-game series at Milwaukee on Thursday. He is 4-1 with a 1.36 ERA in eight starts and 11 relief appearances against the Brewers.
 
>>Yankees Top White Sox
 
Aaron Judge hit a long homer, Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of one-run ball and the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 9-1 Wednesday night to wrap a superb homestand.
New York went 8-1 in its first stretch at Yankee Stadium this season, its most wins in a homestand since going 9-1 from July 17-26, 2009.
 
Judge followed Starlin Castro's three-run shot in the fifth with his 448-foot drive for the Yankees' first back-to-back homers of the season. Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks also went deep to give New York a season high four home runs.
 
Dylan Covey (0-1) got knocked around in his second major league start, allowing eight runs, 10 hits and three homers over five innings.

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Wild Blank Blues; Still Up 3-1

Charlie Coyle scored off a miscue by Jake Allen, Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves and the Wild stayed alive with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night.
Jake Allen made 26 saves. He entered having stopping 114 of the Wild's first 117 shots in the series.
 
St. Louis still leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 heading into Game 5 at Minnesota on Saturday.
 
A costly mistake by Allen set up Minnesota's first goal. He went to play the puck behind the net and passed it right to Coyle, who buried the open look at 16:50.
 
Coyle's second of the playoffs gave Minnesota its first lead of the series after 214 minutes, 38 seconds.

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Lady Maroons Fall to Shelbyville Rams

The Lady Maroons fell to the Shelbyville Rams by a score of 3-1 on Wednesday night. The Maroons were led by Rodjahnar Dupont-Barlow who went 1-for-2 with a single and scored the Lady Maroons only run of the game.
 
Joselyn Lewis led the Rams pitching all 7 innings. She went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in.
 
With the loss, the Lady Maroons drop to 9-10 on the season while the Lady Rams improve 11-8.
 
Tune in next Friday as the Clinton Baseball squad take on Warrensburg-Latham. You can hear the game live on The Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Illinois Routs Western Michigan

Illinois scored 13 runs in the first five innings Tuesday to beat Western Michigan 13-3. Mark Skonieczny hit a three-run home run, Trent Hammond had an inside-the-park homer and Michael Massey was a triple away from the cycle.
Illinois (15-19, 3-6 Big Ten) won for the ninth time in the last 12 games. The Illini had 14 hits and Western Michigan made five errors as Illinois came within two runs of tying its season high.
 
Massey finished the day 3 for 5 with a double, homer, three RBIs and three runs scored. Tyler Engel, who was making his first career start, Casey Dodge, Skonieczny and Doran Turchin all had two hits.
 
Skonieczny and Hammond provided the big blows in a six-run third inning with their home runs. Both finished the day with three RBIs. 
 
Illini starter Cole Bellair (3-2) was overshadowed by the offense in a quality start. He tied a season best with six innings pitched, while allowing two runs on six hits and striking out six. Bellair threw 80 pitches, 58 for strikes, and walked just one batter. Zak Devermann (1.0 IP, 0 R), Ryan Thompson (1.0 IP, 1 R) and Zack Jones (1.0 IP, 0 R) each gave Illinois an inning out of the bullpen.
 
Illinois travels to Purdue this weekend for three games Friday-Sunday.

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Cardinals, Sox, Cubs All Win

Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero each hit a two-run homer, Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay added run-scoring hits in a four-run sixth inning and the Chicago Cubs rallied from five down in a 9-7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
Brewers slugger Eric Thames had two doubles and three hits but ended his franchise record-tying homer streak at five games.
 
Wade Davis got his third save and the bullpen retired 15 of its final 16 batters as the Cubs snapped a four-game skid.
 
The Brewers staked Jimmy Nelson to a 5-0 lead in the third, but the right-hander couldn't make it hold, allowing seven runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Reliever Jared Hughes (1-1) took the loss.
 
Brett Anderson pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed six runs and eight hits. Justin Grimm (1-0) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.
 
>>Cardinals Edge Pirates
 
Mike Leake pitched into the seventh inning, Dexter Fowler tripled and scored, and St. Louis beat Pittsburgh 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Seung Hwan Oh allowed three hits in the ninth but escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam for his second save.
 
Leake (2-1) allowed seven hits and only struck out one, but he held the Pirates to a run over 6 1/3 innings. He has won nine of his last 11 decisions against the Pirates dating to Sept. 11, 2012.
 
Chad Kuhl (1-1) gave up two runs over six innings. He allowed three hits and struck out three.
 
Fowler led off the first with a triple to right and scored on Stephen Piscotty's ground out.
 
Greg Garcia's double in the fifth scored Jose Martinez to make it 2-0 Cardinals. Garcia was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
 
Brett Cecil, Matt Bowman and Oh pitched scoreless relief for St. Louis. Bowman extended his scoreless streak to 17 1/3 innings dating to last season.
 
Adam Frazier scored the Pirates' run on a groundout by Gregory Polanco in the sixth.
 
Gerrit Cole (1-1, 5.29 ERA) is looking for his second straight win after a six-inning, two-run effort at Chicago on Friday. He is 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 10 career starts against St. Louis.
 
Michael Wacha (1-1, 3.00 ERA) had a six-game winning streak snapped in his last outing. He is 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA in 11 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
>>Pirates OF Marte Suspended For PED
 
Pirates OF Starling Marte was suspended by Major League Baseball after testing positive for Nandrolone. He's eligible to return in mid-July but won't be allowed to play in the postseason if Pittsburgh advances.
 
Andrew McCutchen played center field for the first time this season in Marte's absence and extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single. McCutchen was 2 for 4 and is hitting .333 (12 for 36) during his run.
 
McCutchen was moved from center to right this spring so the Pirates could shift Marte from left to center.
 
OF Jose Osuna was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill Marte's spot.
 
>>White Sox End Yankees Eight Game Win Streak
 
Miguel Gonzalez pitched shutout ball into the ninth inning to win a road start for the first time in two years, Leury Garcia and Avisail Garcia homered off Luis Severino, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Yankees 4-1 Tuesday night to stop New York's eight-game winning streak.
 
Gonzalez (2-0) allowed four hits - all infield singles - and one run in 8 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked one. He had been 0-7 in 19 road starts since a victory at Tampa Bay for Baltimore on July 25, 2015.
 
The right-hander retired his first 12 batters before Starling Castro's infield single on a slow bouncer to shortstop leading off the fifth and threw just 88 pitches.

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Bulls Beat Celtics, Take 2-0 Series Lead

Jimmy Butler scored 22 points, Rajon Rondo finished one rebound shy of a triple-double and the Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 111-97 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their series against the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Butler added eight rebounds and eight assists. Rondo's night ended with 11 points and 14 assists on a night when all five Bulls starters reached double figures.
 
Dwyane Wade had 22 points, including 16 in the second half, and Robin Lopez added 18 points and eight points.
 
The Bulls host Game 3 on Friday.
 
After a better start by the Celtics, a familiar theme started to take hold as the Bulls took control by again dominating on the offensive glass. Chicago held a 43-38 rebounding edge for the game.
 
Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston.

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Former NFL Star Hernandez Found Dead in Prison Cell

Aaron Hernandez has passed at the age of 27 after committing what law enforcement says is an apparent suicide in his cell.
 
Hernandez was found by corrections officers hanging in his cell at around 3:05 a.m. EST after utilizing bed sheets attached to his cell window, according to Christopher M. Fallon, of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
He also tried to block the door from inside his cell using various items. 
 
Authorities say that attempts were made to revive Hernandez as he was taken to UMASS Leominster, but was pronounced dead shortly after at 4:07 a.m. EST on Wednesday morning. 
 
Just last week Hernandez was found not guilty for the death of two men in a 2012 double-murder case that took place in Boston's South End, but he was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. 
 
Hernandez was a New England native growing up in Bristol, Connecticut and was a member of the New England Patriots from 2010 to 2012 after the team selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Florida. 
 
The Massachusetts State Police are currently investigating his suicide. 

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Maroa-Forsyth Beats Monticello

Will Horvey threw six-plus innings of two-run ball and the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans topped Monticello 6-2 in Tuesday afternoon non-conference boys baseball action from Forsyth Village Park.

 

Maroa-Forsyth scored two runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings and got out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning to end the game.

 

After tossing five shutout innings, Horvey allowed two runs in the sixthe inning, then allowed a leadoff single to start the sventh, but Kameron Boline got the final three outs after loading the bases with one out.

 

Horvey finished with four strikeouts and issued five walks.

 

Mitch Carr took the loss for the Sages. Finishing with four runs, three earned, allowing five hits, five walks and struck out four.

 

Braden Willoughby led the Trojans with a 3-for-3 afternoon with three RBI. Logan Shepard had an RBI and Dawson Roberts scored twice finishing 2-for-3.

 

Luke Stokowski, who left the game in the sixth inning after a nasty collision at first base on an infield single, finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.

 

Nate Graham went 1-for-4 with a run scored.


The Sages drop to 11-4 on the season while Maroa-Forsyth improves to 10-1.

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Sullivan Walks Off Clinton in Extra Innings

Jon Gavin's single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted Sullivan past Clinton 4-3 in Monday Central Illinois Conference baseball action.
 
The Maroons rallied in the top of the seventh inning with two-runs to tie the game at 3 on a Mac Hickman RBI hit and the Maroons would take the lead in the top of the eighth inning but the Redskins got a couple baserunners on with a couple Clinton errors, then a walk and a base hit to set up the game winning hit by Gavin to walk off Clinton.
 
Clinton's Jake Wade and Sullivan's Tommy Schibur locked in a pitchers duel for the afternoon.
 
Schibur went six innings for the Redskins, allowing a run on two hits, issued five walks and struck out four. Queintan Britton was the winning pitcher for Sullivan, tossing two innings, allowing two runs, one earned, four hits and two strikeouts to no walks. 
 
Wade finished seven innings, allowing two runs, one was earned, permitting six hits, two walks and struck out seven.
 
Wesley Conn took the loss, allowing two unearned runs on two hits with a walk. 
 
The Maroons committed five errors. 
 
Hickman finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and Levi Nettles added a double.
 
The Maroons are 5-8 overall and 2-4 in the Central Illinois Conference. 

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Cardinals Win; Cubs, Sox Lose

Lance Lynn threw seven shutout innings.
 
Kolten Wong helped with a home run and the Cardinals stopped a three-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Monday night.
The Cardinals, who had lost six of seven, are 4-9 and still have the worst record in the NL.
 
Pittsburgh had won three in a row before losing in a game that took only 2 hours, 14 minutes.
 
Lynn (1-1) allowed three hits and struck out five while walking one. He also hit two batters.
 
Seung-Hwan Oh worked around an RBI double by pinch hitter Gregory Polanco in the ninth to record the Cardinals' first save of the season.
 
Ivan Nova (1-2) gave up five hits and no walks in eight innings while striking out three.
 
Trevor Rosenthal pitched a spotless eighth for the Cardinals. Polanco doubled with two outs in the ninth before Oh retired pinch hitter John Jaso on a grounder.
 
Chad Kuhl (0-1, 2.38 ERA) will make his third start. The 24-year-old Kuhl is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.
 
Mike Leake (1-1, 3.00 ERA) will make his third outing coming off pitching seven scoreless innings in a 6-1 win at Washington. He is 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 28 starts against Pittsburgh.
 
>>Brewers Power Past Cubs
 
Eric Thames homered in his club record-tying fifth straight game and the streaking Milwaukee Brewers turned back the Chicago Cubs 6-3 on Monday night.
Milwaukee never trailed after Thames hit an opposite-field homer to snap a 3-3 tie in the third inning. Jeromy Burnitz became the first and last Brewers player to homer in five straight games in August, 1997.
 
Ryan Braun and Jeff Bandy also went deep for Milwaukee, the only team to hit as many as three homers in a game off Chicago starter John Lackey (1-2) last season. The victory was the Brewers' sixth in the last seven games.
 
The Cubs lost for a fourth straight time, their worst stretch since a five-game skid from July 5-9 last season.
 
Brewers starter Chase Anderson (2-0) pitched five innings of three-run, seven-hit ball to pick up the victory. He walked two batters and struck out five. Neftali Felix pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in as many tries.
 
>>Yankees Beat White Sox
 
Jordan Montgomery took a shutout into the seventh inning for his first major league win, Matt Holliday homered in his return to the lineup and the New York Yankees romped to their eighth consecutive victory by beating the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Monday night.
 
Holliday put the Yankees ahead with a titanic three-run shot in a five-run third inning, and Aaron Judge added a two-run homer that chased Derek Holland (1-2) with the score 7-0 in the fifth. New York has rebounded from a 1-4 start with its longest winning streak since a 10-game run in June 2012.
 
Making his second career start, Montgomery (1-0) immediately found himself in a first-inning jam. But the 24-year-old lefty calmly pitched his way out of it by retiring cleanup hitter Jose Abreu and streaking Avisail Garcia with runners at second and third.

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Irving Leads Cavs Past Pacers For 2-0 Series Lead

Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Love added 27, LeBron James had 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers avoided another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 2, beating the Indiana Pacers 117-111 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
James added 10 rebounds and seven assists while winning his 19th straight game in the first round. He did have eight of Cleveland's 19 turnovers, miscues that allowed the Pacers to hang around.
 
Game 3 is Thursday night at Indianapolis.
 
Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for Indiana, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back in the series. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason.
 
Teague injured his right wrist in the second half and coach Nate McMillan said the starting guard will undergo X-rays.

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Blackhawks on Brink of Elimination

Kevin Fiala scored on a backhander 16:44 into overtime, and the Nashville Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory early Tuesday morning in Game 3 of the first-round series.
Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period to force overtime. Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, even with his franchise playoff scoreless streak ending early in the second period at 141 minutes, 5 seconds.
 
Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.
 
Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane each scored the first goals this series for the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.
 
But the Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cup titles in the past seven years, now trail 0-3 for the first time since the 2011 quarterfinals. They lost that series in seven games to Vancouver.

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Illini Win Sunday Over Northwestern, Win Series

Jack Yalowitz homered and drove in four runs Sunday to lead the Illinois baseball team to a 10-8 win over Northwestern. The Illini clinched the three-game weekend series 2-1.
 
Illinois (14-19, 3-6 Big Ten) scored five runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to turn a 3-3 game into a 10-3 lead. Northwestern (13-22, 3-6 Big Ten) answered with four runs in the top of the eighth and one in the ninth before closer Joey Gerber finished off the Wildcats.
 
Yalowitz led Illinois with three hits, including his fifth-inning homer and a two-run single in the sixth. He leads the team with a .360 batting average and 31 RBIs this season and is second among Illini with seven homers.
 
Illinois batted around in the big sixth inning after Mark Skonieczny led off with a triple down the right field line. Michael Massey had a two-run single and Doran Turchin added an RBI knock up the middle. Turchin, Dan Rowbottom and Ben Troike all had two hits in the game.
 
Ryan Schmitt (2-1) got the win although starter Matthew James was the most effective of any Illini pitcher in his first career Big Ten start. James went 5 2/3 innings while allowing three runs on five hits before Schmitt threw 1 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits. Gerber got out of an eighth-inning jam before allowing a run in the ninth to finish with two innings pitched and one earned run surrendered.
 
Illinois hosts Western Michigan at Illinois Field Tuesday. 

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Illinois State Swept By Evanseville

Brent Headrick tossed seven shutout innings to match Evansville starter Justin Hayden, but Brendan Krob homered to lead off the eighth inning to provide the difference in a 1-0 Evansville win Sunday at Duffy Bass Field.
Paired with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, Sunday's win gave visiting Evansville (13-22, 4-5 MVC) a three-game sweep in the Missouri Valley Conference weekend series.
 
Headrick scattered four hits and did not walk a batter over a career-high seven innings, which matched the longest start by an ISU pitcher this season. Headrick struck out two.
 
Evansville's Hayden matched Headrick, however, allowing just three hits and a walk over his seven innings on the mound. Brandon Gomer pitched two scoreless innings to secure his fourth save of the season.
 
Illinois State (10-24) was led by Joe Butler's two hits. Noah Sadler, Derek Parola and Joe Aeilts collected the Redbirds' remaining hits.
 
Trevor Cross surrendered the game's lone run when Krob cleared the left-center field fence. The junior right-hander allowed no further damage, however, over the game's final two innings.
 
The Redbirds return to action Wednesday at Notre Dame.

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Garcia Delivers 10th Inning HR To Lift ChiSox Over Twins; Cubs, Cards Swept

Avisail Garcia had a career-high four hits, including an opposite-field, two-run homer in the 10th inning that led the Chicago White Sox over the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Sunday.
Leury Garcia doubled off Ryan Pressly (0-2) leading off the 10th and advanced on Tyler Saladino's sacrifice. Jose Abreu struck out and Garcia drove a high fastball over the seats and into the right field plaza.'
 
Nate Jones (1-0) struck out two in a perfect ninth, and David Robertson fanned his first two batters in a 1-2-3 10th for his third save in as many chances.
 
Brian Dozier hit an inside-the-park home run for the Twins.
 
>>Pirates Drop Cubs For Series Sweep
 
Adam Frazier homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates scored six runs in the final two innings to beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 Sunday for a three-game sweep of the World Series champions.
The Pirates went just 4-14 against the Cubs last year, including 1-8 at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh's previous three-game sweep at Wrigley was in September 2014.
 
Cubs starter Jon Lester pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and left with a 1-0 lead. The Pirates scored three times in the eighth off Koji Uehara (0-1), getting the go-ahead run when pinch runner Alec Hanson slid home on a bases-loaded grounder - a replay review upheld the call that catcher Willson Contreras was barely off the plate when he caught a throw on an attempted force play.
 
Frazier hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
 
Jameson Taillon (1-0) allowed an unearned run and struck out six in seven innings.
 
>>Yankees Rout Cardinals For Series Sweep
 
Greg Bird busted out of his slump with a long home run that began a perfect night at the plate, and Michael Pineda pitched New York past the staggering St. Louis Cardinals 9-3 for its seventh straight victory.
Aaron Hicks also hit a homer and Judge was robbed of one by a fan in the bleachers , forcing the young Yankees bopper to settle for an RBI triple. New York chased Adam Wainwright (0-3) in the fifth and finished a three-game sweep that left St. Louis at 3-9, the worst record in the National League and its poorest start since 1988.
 
Pineda (2-1) permitted two runs over seven innings in a solid follow-up to his dominant outing last Monday. The right-hander retired his first 20 batters during New York's home opener and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings for an 8-1 victory against Tampa Bay.
 
Yadier Molina's leadoff homer in the seventh trimmed it to 4-2, but Pineda maintained his poise and retired the next three batters.
 
Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.23 ERA) faces Pittsburgh RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 2.25) in the opener of a three-game series Monday night in St. Louis.

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Blues Take 3-0 Series Lead on Wild

Blues goalie Jake Allen was outstanding for the third consecutive game, making 40 saves and Jaden Schwartz had the go-ahead goal in the second period to give the Blues a 3-1 win over the Wild on Sunday for a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues and Alexander Steen added an empty-netter for St. Louis, which will try to sweep the series Wednesday night in St. Louis.
 
Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota, which got 28 saves from Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has allowed just two goals in each of the three games, stopping 92.3 percent of the shots he's faced, but the Wild have lost all three games.
 
Schwartz had a power-play goal at 15:19 of the second period to put the Blues one win away from the second round.

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Butler Rallies Bulls Past Top-Seeded Celtics

Jimmy Butler had 30 points and nine rebounds and the Chicago Bulls outlasted Boston 106-102 in Game 1 on Sunday on an emotional night for grieving Celtics star Isaiah Thomas.
Playing a day after 22-year-old sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident in their home state of Washington, Thomas led the top-seeded Celtics with 33 points.
 
Butler scored 23 points in the second half. Bobby Portis finished with 19 for the Bulls.
 
Al Horford had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Boston.
 
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Boston.

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Bears Bring Back LB Acho

The Chicago Bears have re-signed linebacker Sam Acho to a one-year contract.
 
Acho has started 45 of 82 games over six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2011-14) and Chicago Bears (2015-16).
 
Last season with the Bears, Acho had 40 tackles, one sack, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and three tackles for a loss on defense. He also added three tackles on special teams.
 
He has had 212 tackles, 14 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups, nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his career.
 
Acho entered the league out of Texas as a fourth-round selection (103rd overall) in the 2011 draft by the Cardinals.

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Eastern Illinois Hires Former Illinois Women's Coach Bollant

A month after being fired as the University of Illinois' women's basketball coach, Matt Bollant has moved down the road to coach Eastern Illinois' women's team.
 
Eastern Illinois Athletic Director Tom Michael said Friday the university had exceptional interest in the coaching position. He said Bollant stood out among those resumes "with his proven track record of building winning programs at our level."
 
Bollant had one winning season in five years at Illinois, and was sued two years ago for allegedly abusing players. He was replaced by Hall of Famer Nancy Fahey.
 
Bollant is replacing Debbie Black, whose contract was not renewed following the 2016-17 season. Black finished her four-years with a 34-80 overall record.
 
Bollant said he was excited about being named Panther head coach, adding "great things are ahead."

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California point guard Charlie Moore to transfer

California point guard Charlie Moore is transferring to play at a school closer to his home in Chicago.
 
Coach Wyking Jones announced the decision Thursday. He said Moore wanted to be closer to his family. Charlie Moore's father, Curtis, had a stroke on Labor Day weekend in 2015 and is still recovering.
 
Moore says it was a difficult decision to leave Cal but he felt it was necessary to be closer to his family.
 
Moore averaged 12.2 points per game as a freshman last season. He also led the Golden Bears with 120 assists.
 
Cal will return only one starter for Jones' first season as coach in place of Cuonzo Martin.

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Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock diagnosed with bone cancer

The St. Louis Cardinals say Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock was recently diagnosed with bone cancer.
 
The 77-year-old Brock was supposed to appear at a Busch Stadium event on April 25th, but that has been canceled while he is undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.
 
His left leg was amputated below the knee in late 2015 because of an infection caused by complications with diabetes. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more than 15 years ago and has worn a prosthesis since the amputation to throw out the occasional ceremonial first pitch at Cardinals games.
 
Brock, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1985, says he and wife Jackie are thankful for the support they have received.

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Pekka Rinne, Predators beat Blackhawks 1-0 in Game 1

Pekka Rinne made 29 saves, Viktor Arvidsson scored in the first period and the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Rinne's second career postseason shutout sent Nashville to just its second playoff win in Chicago in seven tries. The Predators did not have a 1-0 victory during the regular season.
 
Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.
 
Corey Crawford had 19 saves for Chicago, which got center Artem Anisimov back from a leg injury that sidelined him for the last part of the season, but struggled to find many good looks against a sound defensive performance by Nashville.
 
The Blackhawks, who won the Central Division this year with the most points in the Western Conference, are going for their fourth Stanley Cup championship in the last eight seasons. They eliminated Nashville during two of those title-winning runs, including in 2015 when the Predators blew leads of 3-0 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.

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White Sox score 5 in first, roll past Indians 10-4

Tim Anderson homered on the game's first pitch, Matt Davidson added a three-run shot in a five-run first inning and the Chicago White Sox beat the slumping Cleveland Indians 10-4 on Thursday night.
 
The defending AL champions have lost five of six after sweeping Texas to begin the season and dropped to 4-5.
 
Anderson hit Josh Tomlin's first pitch onto the porch in left field while Davidson lined a two-out homer to right-center.
 
Cleveland used five pitchers in the first eight innings, forcing infielder Michael Martinez to work the ninth. Making his first career appearance on the mound, Martinez gave up a single but retired the other three hitters on grounders.
 
Avisail Garcia was 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Anthony Swarzak (1-0) relieved starter Miguel Gonzalez in the fifth and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings.
 
Tomlin (0-2) gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, matching the shortest outing of his career.

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Anderson's arm, Almora's glove lead Cubs over Dodgers 4-0

Brett Anderson beat his former team with five solid innings, center fielder Albert Almora Jr. made two outstanding catches against the ivy and the Chicago Cubs blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 Thursday.
Anderson (2-0) won in his Wrigley Field debut for the Cubs. The lefty lowered his ERA to 0.84 through two starts with his new club.
 
Anderson, the only member of the Cubs without a World Series ring after Wednesday's celebration, allowed three hits but walked four. He stranded seven runners, helped by Almora's defense.
 
Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell hit long solo home runs, their first of the season. Both came off Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-2).

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Illinois State Holds Off Illinois Wesleyan

The Illinois State baseball team spotted Illinois Wesleyan three runs in the first inning but claimed the lead by the third inning and hung on in the end to win the battle of crosstown foes, 7-5, at Duffy Bass Field Wednesday afternoon.
Nick Zouras drove in four runs, and Mitch Weis and Jack Spicer led a quartet of Redbird pitchers, picking up the win and the save, respectively, to preserve the win for Illinois State.
 
Zouras went 2-for-4 with a pair of two-run hits, including a double. Weis, who was called on to start the second inning, tossed three scoreless frames, while Spicer pitched 2.1 scoreless innings and faced the minimum number of batters, thanks in part to a spectacular ninth-inning double play started after Owen Miller snagged a hard-hit grounder to shortstop.
 
The Illinois State baseball team returns to Duffy Bass Field for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series with Evansville, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. 

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Cardinals, Sox Win; Cubs Blanked After Ring Ceremony

Mike Leake outpitched Max Scherzer, Stephen Piscotty homered and had five RBIs, and the Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Leake (1-1) gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked none over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed hits to the first two batters, then picked off a runner before getting 19 straight outs. The streak ended when Daniel Murphy singled with two outs in the seventh.
 
By that time, St. Louis had taken a 3-0 lead against Scherzer, who yielded only one earned run. He did, however, throw three wild pitches - two in the third inning - after tossing only two all last year while going 20-7.
 
Scherzer (1-1) allowed three runs, four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out 10, the 50th time in his career he reached double figures in strikeouts.
 
The Cardinals will travel by train to New York on Wednesday night, take Thursday off and start a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
 
>>Holland Sharp Again As Sox Beat Indians
 
Derek Holland held Cleveland hitless until the sixth inning and late fill-in Matt Davidson had a two-run single that helped the Chicago White Sox beat the Indians 2-1 Wednesday night.
Holland (1-1) gave up a leadoff double to Francisco Lindor in the sixth. The White Sox lefty struck out four, walked four and threw 101 pitches in six innings.
 
Holland is 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA in five starts at Progressive Field. He is 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 10 career starts against Cleveland.
 
David Robertson pitched the ninth for his first save.
 
Davidson, added to the lineup when third baseman Todd Frazier was scratched with flu-like symptoms, drove in two runs with a single in the second.
 
Danny Salazar (0-1), who struck out 11, matching a career high, in six innings.
 
>>Dodgers Blank Cubs
 
Brandon McCarthy pitched four-hit ball over six innings, Andrew Toles hit his first leadoff homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Chicago 2-0 on Wednesday night after the Cubs received their championship rings.
The Cubs put the finishing touches on a celebration that started when they beat Cleveland in Game 7 last November to win the World Series for the first time since 1908. They raised the banner Monday night and got 14-karat white gold rings with a total of 214 diamonds in a ceremony Wednesday that drew more roars from the fans at Wrigley Field.
 
But once the game started, there wasn't much to cheer.
 
Toles gave the Dodgers a quick lead with his drive off John Lackey to start the game, and it stayed 1-0 until the ninth.

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Bulls, Pacers Clinch Playoff Spot

Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the depleted Brooklyn Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Wednesday.
Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under coach Fred Hoiberg.
 
On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.
 
>>Pacers Get Big Win Over Hawks
 
Paul George finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Teague added 19 points and the Indiana Pacers clinched a playoff spot Wednesday with a 104-86 victory over Atlanta.
 
The Pacers completed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed. They will face Cleveland in the opening round.
 
Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 points and Jose Calderon had 12 on a night the Hawks rested five of their top six players. Thabo Sefolosha played 23 minutes but didn't score as Atlanta to keep four-game winning streak ended.
 
Indiana took advantage of the backups by pulling out to a 22-15 lead after one quarter and starting the third quarter on a 9-2 run to turn a seven-point into a 59-45 cushion. The Hawks never seriously challenged again.

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Blues Use Overtime To Take Game 1 Win

Joel Edmundson slowly skated away from the slot after his overtime winner for St. Louis, as if the 23-year-old defenseman had done this several times before.
 
Keeping calm and staying steady were the keys to victory for Jake Allen and the Blues in weathering all that pressure from the Minnesota Wild.
 
Edmundson scored for St. Louis at 17:48 of the extra period , Allen made a career-high 51 saves and the Blues stole Game 1 of their first-round playoff series from the Wild with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
 
Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko was quiet most of the night until he spun past Mikko Koivu, drove into a crowd and lost control. The puck threaded through the Wild defense like a well-timed pass to Edmundson, who knocked in the second postseason goal of his career.
 
Zach Parise tied the game with 22.7 seconds left in regulation for the Wild, who'd never had a goalie make that many saves against them in their 16-year history.
 
The Wild outshot the Blues 52-26 and held a 47-33 advantage on faceoffs.
 
The Blues took the lead after an interception by Alexander Steen of Jonas Brodin's clearing attempt preceding a pass to Vladimir Sobotka in the slot, wound up a wrist shot that deflected off Christian Folin and past Dubnyk after Folin tripped.
 
Game 2 is Friday. 
 
>>Crosby Has NHL Top Selling Jerseys
 
Sidney Crosby has the best-selling jersey in the NHL for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
The league announced Wednesday that shop.NHL.com sales show the Pittsburgh Penguins captain leading the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the most popular jersey this season.
 
Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews makes his NHL debut on the list at No. 4, followed by New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
 
The league says sales of NHL merchandise on shop.NHL.com during the 2016-17 regular season were up 14 percent year-over-year, while jersey sales rose 11 percent during the same period.

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St. Louis Suing NFL, Rams Over Move

If the Rams thought they were going to get a clean break from St. Louis, they thought wrong. The breakup between the team and the city is now even messier thanks to a 52-page lawsuit that was filed Wednesday by the city of St. Louis, along with St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority. 
 
The Rams aren't the only defendants listed in the lawsuit, which was obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The NFL and the league's 31 other teams are also listed as defendants.
 
The lawsuit was filed because the three entities in St. Louis are seeking damages and the restitution of profits that they lost stemming from the Rams' move to Los Angeles. 
 
The suit also states that the Rams' move allegedly cost thousands of job to the county. 
 
According to the plaintiffs, the lawsuit has merit because the Rams didn't meet the NFL's standard for relocation. 
 
The NFL's relocation rules only allow a team to move if the club has "diligently engaged in good faith efforts" to get a stadium deal done. 
 
The city of St. Louis doesn't believe that the league acted in good faith, especially since the city ended up approving a stadium plan in December 2015.
 
Under that plan, the city would've pitched in in $150 million of the estimated $1.1 billion stadium cost. Another $550 million would've come from the NFL and the Rams, with the team adding $250 million and the league kicking in $300 million. At the time, the city said that the state would pay for the rest of the stadium.
 
The city claims that it spent more than $17 million putting the stadium plan together, something that it wouldn't have done if it knew the Rams were leaving. However, the city says that the Rams lied about relocation, which is why the city thought the Rams were staying. 

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Clinton Lady Maroons Defeat Lady Sages

In a game heard on WHOW and WEZC, the Clinton Lady Maroons defeated the Monticello Lady Sages by a score of 8-2 on Wednesday afternoon. Ryty DuPont-Barlow was named the Country Financial representative Stephan York Maroons Player of the Game. She was three for three with a double, an RBI, scored a run, walk, and steal. Aspyn Taylor was two for four with 2 doubles, Jillian Miller was two for three with a double and two RBIs, and Tori Wilson was one for three with two runs and a double. Olivia Sanders had the win, pitching for seven innings, two runs, earned six hits, striking out two, and walking zero.

 

For Monticello, Leslie Taylor had the loss, pitching six innings, had eight runs, 11 hits, striking out five, walking two, and hitting one batter. Delaney Hilderbrandt was two for four with an RBI triple, and Skyler Frye was two for three with a double.

With the win the Lady Maroons improve to 5-8 on the season and 1-3 in the Central Illinois Conference. Monticello falls to 5-9-1 overall and 0-2 in Okaw Valley Conference action.

 

Tune in Wednesday, April 19, as the Lady Maroons take on Shelbyville. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, and online at dewittdailynews.com. The Lady Sages take on St. Joseph Ogden on Thursday, April 20, on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Warrenbsurg-Latham Edges Clinton

A first inning run was all Wes Campbell needed for Warrensburg-Latham as he went the distance in shutting out the Clinton Maroons 1-0 in Central Illinois Conference boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon in Warrensburg.
Caleb Hermann tripled in the first inning and scored on a base hit by Logan Bledsaw for the Cardinals. 
 
Jake Wade was terrific for the Maroons. He went six innings, allowing the single run on three hits, with two walks and two strikeouts.
 
Campbell allowed two hits, five walks and struck out two. 
 
Parker West and Wade had the Maroons only two hits.
 
The Cardinals are 7-4 overall and 3-1 in the CIC while Clinton drops to 4-7 and 1-3 in CIC play.

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Big Inning Propels Rantoul To Rout of Monticello

An eight run fifth inning propelled the Rantoul Eagles at 14-8 victory over Monticello in Okaw Valley Conference boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon from Clinton High Schoo.
 
The Sages jumped out to a 3-0 with two runs in the first inning and a run in the second, but the Eagles would rebound with a four run third inning, added a run in the fourth and broke the game open with an eight run fifth inning where they sent 14 batters to the plate. 
 
Mitch Carr started on the mound for Monticello, allowing five runs in four innings, and Nick Hopper finished the game out allowing nine runs.
 
Sages pitchers walked eight, including five to the bottom third of the Rantoul order. They had only five strikeouts.
 
Every hitter reached base for Rantoul Tuesday. Garet Kinnett finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored. John Frerichs, Josh Frerichs, JT Jones, Hayden Cargo, and Adam Crites all recorded two hits apiece.
 
The Sages were led by Nate Graham, who finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Konnor Bundy was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Hoppers went 3-for-3 with an RBI.
 
The Sages drop to 9-3 overall and 1-2 in Okaw action.
 
The two teams meet up again Thursday in Rantoul.

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Illinois Needs Extra Innings To Get By Illinois State

Illinois' Tyler Engel delivered a pinch hit sac fly in the 10th inning Tuesday to score the winning run in a 6-5 victory at Illinois State. The Illini completed the two-game season sweep of Illinois State and beat the Redbirds for the fifth straight time.
Illinois (12-18) won for the sixth time in its last eight games.
 
The Illini scored single runs in the ninth and 10th innings to come back for the win. Jack Yalowitz doubled and scored on an error by the pitcher to send the game to extra innings, when Engel's fly ball to center field scored Mark Skonieczny.
 
Illinois State (11-19) trailed 4-1 in the seventh, but scored three runs on three hits, including two doubles to knot the score at 4-4. A run in the eighth made it 5-4 in the back-and-forth final innings.
 
Joey Gerber (1-0) went the final three innings, his longest career outing, for the win. He allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth, before shutting down the Redbirds for three innings pitched, two hits, zero runs and two strikeouts.
 
Yalowitz led Illinois with four hits, tying a career high, two runs and an RBI. Casey Dodge and Skonieczny added two hits and Michael Massey chipped in a two-out, two-RBI double.
 
Owen Miller did most of the heavy lifting for the Redbird offense, going 2-for-3 with a home run, double, two walks and two runs scored.
 
Jack Landwehr (1-3) took the loss for Illinois State by allowing the 10th-inning run.
 
Redbird starter Colton Johnson allowed three runs (two earned) over a career-long start of 4.2 innings. He scattered six hits, walked three and fanned one.
 
Illinois is back home this weekend against Northwestern.
 
The Illinois State baseball team returns to Duffy Bass Field on Wednesday to take on Illinois Wesleyan in the annual Horenberger-Bass Classic. First pitch is at 4 p.m.

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Cardinals, White Sox Lose

Daniel Murphy homered, doubled twice and tied career highs with five RBIs and four hits to help the Nationals to an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
 
Matt Wieters and Jayson Werth also hit solo shots as Washington followed up a 14-6 series opening win Monday with another onslaught.
 
It was more than enough support for Gonzalez (1-0), who allowed two runs - one earned - over seven innings and retired his last 11 batters.
 
Murphy is batting .472 with five doubles, two homers and an MLB-leading 17 hits in the cleanup spot. This after he finished second in the 2016 NL MVP race with a .347 average, 25 homers and 104 RBIs in his first season in Washington.
 
Bryce Harper walked three times against Lynn to reach base in nine straight plate appearances going back to Monday. He later doubled.
 
Lynn (0-1) allowed six runs - four earned - and five hits and four walks over five innings. Randal Grichuk and Aldemys Diaz homered for St. Louis, and Jose Martinez went 2 for 4 in his first start.
 
Mike Leake looks to build upon an eight-inning outing to open the season.
 
Max Scherzer makes his first home start since the right-hander won the 2016 NL Cy Young Award.
 
>>Indians Edge White Sox
 
Michael Brantley doubled home Francisco Lindor with two outs in the 10th inning as the Cleveland Indians celebrated their 2016 AL championship and then beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Tuesday in their home opener.
Brantley could only watch and cheer for his teammates last October during their postseason run after undergoing two surgeries on his right shoulder. But he's healthy now, and after playing in just 11 games last season, Brantley made the most of his first home game since May 10 with his game-winning hit.
 
Lindor walked with two outs off Tommy Kahnle (0-1) before Brantley sliced a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line. Lindor was running on the pitch and scored easily while Brantley danced around second base before being mobbed by his teammates.
 
It was the dramatic ending the Indians didn't get in their last home game, a 10-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series. Cleveland led the majors with 11 walk-off wins last season.
 
Bryan Shaw (1-0), who took the loss when the Cubs won their first title in 108 years, got the win.
 
Derek Holland is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in his past three road starts. 
 
Danny Salazar will be pitching on six days' rest after getting a no-decision in his first start. Salazar has a 5-2 career record against the White Sox.
 
>>Yankees Top Forbes List of Most Valuable Big League Clubs
 
Forbes ranks the New York Yankees as baseball's most valuable team for the 20th straight year and lists the Tampa Bay Rays with the lowest valuation.
 
Forbes said Tuesday it estimates the Yankees are worth $3.7 billion, up 9 percent from last year. The Dodgers are next at $2.75 billion, a 10 percent increase.
 
Boston was third at $2.7 billion, followed by the Chicago Cubs ($2.675 billion), San Francisco ($2.65 billion) and New York Mets ($2 billion).
 
At the bottom were the Rays ($825 million), Oakland ($880 million), Cincinnati ($915 million) and Cleveland ($920 million).
 
Major League Baseball's average team value rose 19 percent to $1.54 billion. Forbes says values increased because of new local television deals, as well as a "surge in profitability."

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Blues Open Playoffs Tonight in Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild, who finished second in both the Central Division and in the Western Conference, will open a playoff series with a home game for just the third time in franchise history when they host the St. Louis Blues tonight in game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 
 
Minnesota last faced St. Louis in early March and lost, which was the start of a miserable 2-10-2 stretch that cost it the division title. But the Wild enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, which has optimism growing despite coach Bruce Boudreau's well-documented history of regular-season success followed by early playoff exits.
 
While the Blues went all the way to the Western Conference Final last season, falling to San Jose in six games, the Wild fell to Dallas in a six-game opening-round series a year ago. But that was without offensive catalyst Zach Parise, who missed the series due to injury.
 
Parise is healthy now, despite needing a few stitches in his face recently, and is excited to get back at it.
 
With 49 wins and 106 points, The Wild had their finest regular season since they premiered as an expansion team in 2000.

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Late Champaign Centennial Rally Dooms Maroons

Champaign Centennial rallie for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and held on to beat the Clinton Maroons 5-3 in non-conference boys baseball action Monday afternoon in Champaign.
 
Trailing 2-1, Centennial rallied with a four-run sixth inning. The Maroons would get a run back in the top of the seventh, but it was not enough as Trey Ryan got the final out.
 
Joel Sarver went 6 1/3 innings, allowing all three runs on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
 
Parker West went 5 2/3, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits with two walks and zero strikeouts.
 
The Maroons committed three errors.
 
Mac Hickman, Logan Peterson and Jake Wade each paced the Clinton offensive effort with a double. 
 
Chris Monroe hit a first inning home run for Centennial with Cameron Hedge, Kellen Sarver and Joel Sarver each logged doubles. Hedge and Kellen Sarver had RBI.
 
With the loss, the Maroons drop to 4-6 on the season.

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Illinois, Illinois State Meet For Second Time Tonight

The Illinois baseball team and Illinois State finish their season series Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Illinois. The Illini are looking for the season sweep over Illinois State.
 
Illinois (11-18, 1-5 Big Ten) is coming off a 7-5 win Sunday at No. 18 Michigan, the team's second victory over a ranked opponent this season. The Illini have won five of their last seven.
 
Illinois State (9-20, 0-3 Missouri Valley) is looking to snap a four-game losing streak against Illinois.
Illinois State (9-20) returns to action after winning two games in a three-game series versus Dayton over the weekend.
 
The Redbirds will go with left-hander Colton Johnson (1-2, 4.30) to start Tuesday's game. 
 
Senior Matthew James will get the start on the mound for the Illini in his hometown of Normal. He also started there last season and struck out a career-high six Redbirds in four innings.

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Cubs Drop Dodgers on Banner Night at Wrigley; Nats Pound Cardinals

Anthony Rizzo hit a game-winning single off Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Monday night after raising a World Series championship banner for the first time at Wrigley Field.
Pinch-hitter Jon Jay started the winning rally with a leadoff single against Sergio Romo (0-1). With two outs and Jay on third, Rizzo sliced a 1-1 pitch from Jansen into left field for his first RBI this season.
 
Wade Davis (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for his first win with the Cubs, who blew a 2-0 lead before claiming a dramatic victory in their rain-delayed home opener.
 
Rizzo also heard wild cheers earlier in the night when he started the 2016 flag toward the top of a pole in right-center before handing the reins over to his smiling teammates. Rizzo then emerged from under the bleachers with the championship trophy, drawing another big ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,166.
 
>>Nationals Pound Cardinals
 
Bryce Harper tied a career high with four hits, all singles, and reached base in all six plate appearances to help Washington to a 14-6 rout of St. Louis.
 
Harper drove in three runs during his first four-hit game since April 17, 2013.
 
Stephen Drew, Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman each had three of Washington's 19 hits. Drew drove in four runs and Eaton knocked in three as the Nationals overcame four errors. They broke open the game in a seven-run eighth inning.
 
Former Illini Tanner Roark (2-0) allowed five runs - three earned - over five innings. The right-hander worked around three errors committed behind him.
 
Stephen Piscotty returned to St. Louis' lineup after missing two games with a sore left knee and knocked in two runs.
 
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (0-2) gave up six runs, five earned, and 11 hits over four-plus innings.
 
Lance Lynn looks to build upon 5 1/3 innings last week in his first start since 2015 after missing last season recovering from elbow surgery.
 
Gio Gonzalez will start for Washington and try to improve his numbers against Cardinals leadoff man Dexter Fowler, who is 10 for 20 with a homer and four extra-base hits vs. the lefty in his career.

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Bears Waive DB Porter

The Chicago Bears have waived cornerback Tracy Porter.
A nine-year veteran, Porter led the club with 35 pass breakups over two seasons with the Bears. He had 13 breakups and two interceptions to go with 48 tackles last season.
 
The move announced Monday is the latest in an overhaul of the secondary. Chicago signed cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency.
 
Chicago finished last in the NFC North at 3-13 last season.

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Bulls, Pacers Win, Keep Pace For Playoff Spot

Emergency starter Jerian Grant had 17 points and a career-high 11 assists on Monday night, and the Chicago Bulls routed the Orlando Magic 122-75 to move closer to a postseason berth.
The Bulls led by as many as 47 points in their largest margin of victory this season. They would have clinched a playoff berth with a Miami loss to Cleveland, but the Heat's rally means Chicago will have until its final regular-season game. The Bulls host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
 
Chicago and Miami remained one game behind No. 7 Indiana after the Pacers beat the 76ers in Philadelphia. The Bulls (40-41) would claim a three-way tie if the teams finish with the same record.
 
Chicago scored 14 of the first 16 points en route to a 34-13 lead at the end of one quarter. Grant led the way with seven points, four assists and one steal.
 
>>George Ejected But Pacers Win
 
Paul George scored 17 of his 27 points in the opening quarter and the Indiana Pacers inched closer to clinching a berth in the NBA playoffs with a 120-111 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
 
Thaddeus Young added 20 points, Myles Turner scored 18 and Kevin Seraphin had 17 to give the Pacers (41-40) their fourth straight victory and push them one win away from guaranteeing a playoff spot for the sixth time in the past seven years.
 
The 76ers (28-53) lost for the seventh straight time and finished with a home record of 17-24. They conclude their fifth straight season out of the playoffs Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.
 
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot paced the Sixers with 24 points and Richaun Holmes had 17 points.
 
The Pacers ran out to a 16-4 lead and built a 21-point lead with 1:55 to play in the first quarter. George had nearly half Indiana's 35 points.
 
The Sixers used a 14-2 run late in the second quarter, including an alley-oop dunk by Holmes and a 3-pointer from Luwawu-Cabarrot, to draw within seven points.
 
That was as close as Philadelphia would get until 3:36 remained in the fourth quarter, when a 3-pointer by Alex Poythress cut it to 111-104. The Pacers then ran off five of the next six points to regain control.
 
The Pacers shot 61.4 percent to the Sixers' 45.2 percent to carry a 64-54 lead into the half. Overall, the Pacers shot 56.7 percent to the Sixers' 46.7 percent.
 
George finished the first half with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

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Maroons Drop Pair At CHS Tournament

The Clinton Maroons boys baseball squad dropped a pair of Saturday contests from the annual Clinton High School tournament 7-5 to Tri-Valley in game 1 then 10-8 to North Mac in game 2.
 
The Maroons jumped out 4-0 in game 1 but the Vikings finished the game on a 7-1 run and beat Clinton.
Drew Rudinski picked up the win for the Vikings, relieving starter Joel Reiners who last just 1 inning, allowing three runs on two hits with three walks and no strikeouts.
 
Rudinski pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing two runs on three hits with five strikeouts to four walks. 
 
Isaac Vance closed out the final inning and a third for Tri-Valley for the save allowing a hit and two walks with a strikeout.
 
Maroon starter Travis Osgood lasted three innings, allowing six runs, three were earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeotus.
 
Wesley Conn finished the final four innings allowing a run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.
 
Hunter Merritt went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI while Matthew Manint finished 2-for-3.
 
Levi Nettles finished the first game 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI for Clinton.
 
Tri-Valley beat Harvest Christian Academy for the tournament championship.
 
In game two of Saturday action, pitchers Keaton Thayer and Levi Nettles were the victims of suspect defense, as the two combined to allow ten runs but only three were earned as North Mac rallied to beat Clinton 10-8.
 
Leading 7-4 after four innings, North Mac got a run back in the fifth, then rallied for five in the seventh inning.
 
Thayer started for the Maroons, allowing five runs, three earned on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
 
Nettles lasted just an 1 2/3 to take the loss but allowed five unearned runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
 
Mac Hickman went 2-for-4 in game two and Cameron Wertz finished 2-for-3.
 
After the two tournament games, the Maroons are now 4-5 on the season. 

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Illinois, Illinois State Win Sunday

Dan Rowbottom hit a three-run home run Sunday to help the Illinois baseball team get a 7-5 win at No. 18 Michigan. 
 
The Illini jumped to a 6-0 lead and held on for their first win of the weekend.
 
Illinois (11-18, 1-5 Big Ten) used three freshmen and a sophomore to earn its second win over a ranked opponent this season. Freshman starter Cyrillo Watson gave the Illini four innings, while allowing five runs, before freshman Ryan Thompson went a career-long 3 1/3 innings of shutout work. Thompson allowed just two hits through the middle innings before giving way to Ryan Schmitt, who got a big strikeout to end the eighth with two runners on.
 
The Illini opened its big lead with two runs in the second inning and Rowbottom's three-run homer in the third. Illinois' first two runs came when Trent Hammond laid down a safety squeeze that turned into a bunt single plus an error. Ben Troike added an RBI fielder's choice two batters later.
 
Michael Massey and Pat McInerney led the offense with three hits apiece. Massey added an RBI double in the seventh to plate an insurance run.
 
Michigan scored four runs in the third inning, led by two-RBI hits from Johnny Slater and Drew Lugbauer. Slater finished with three of the Wolverine's nine hits.
 
The Illini are on the road Tuesday at Illinois State.
 
>>Sunday Win Sends Redbirds To Series Victory Over Dayton
 
A strong starting pitching effort from Brent Headrick and timely hitting helped the Illinois State baseball team to a 7-2 victory and a series win over Dayton Sunday at Duffy Bass Field.
 
Headrick allowed just two runs over six innings, while striking out three before giving way to Jack Landwehr, who tossed three scoreless frames to pick up the save. Headrick's win and Landwehr's save were the first of the season for each. 
 
Collin Braithwaite tallied three RBIs for the second game in a row and Joe Butler collected three hits in the win. John Rave tallied two hits and scored two runs, while Noah Sadler added two hits and two RBIs.
 
After splitting the first two games of the three-game series with Dayton, Sunday's win gave the Redbirds a series win in their first weekend series at Duffy Bass Field.
 
The Redbirds return to Duffy Bass Field Tuesday to face in-state rival Illinois on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Illinois State's annual "Stuff the Duff" game.

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Blues Edge Avalanch To End Regular Season

Vladimi Sobotka, who spent the last three seasons playing in Russia, scored in his first game back to lift the Blues over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
 
The Blues have won 15 of their last 19 games. They'll open the postseason with a best-of-seven series against Minnesota.
 
Colorado finished the season with an NHL-low 48 points. The Avs have lost 11 of their last 13 games in St. Louis.
 
Sobotka played in the NHL for the first time since April 27, 2014. He spent the last three years with Omsk Avangard of the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League. His last NHL goal came on April 6, 2014 as a member of the Blues.
 
Sobotka scored at 3:20 of the third period to tie it at 2. Vladimir Tarasenko scored the winner 79 seconds later.
 
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen made 32 saves, and Zach Sanford also scored for the Blues, who will be facing the Wild for the second time in three postseasons. Minnesota beat St. Louis in six games in a first-round series in 2014-2015.

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Cubs Win Sunday, Cardinals, White Sox Lose

Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist hit home runs and Jake Arrieta threw seven strong innings as the Chicago Cubs took the weekend series from the Milwaukee Brewers with a 7-4 victory Sunday.
 
Chicago scored four runs in the top of the first off Brewers starter Zach Davies (0-2) on a two-run double by Addison Russell and a two-run triple from Jason Heyward.
 
Arrieta (2-0) allowed just three hits with 10 strikeouts over seven innings, the only blemish on his line a three-run home run hit by Ryan Braun in the third.
 
The right-hander retired 13 of the 14 batters following Braun's home run, including a stretch of five consecutive strikeouts.
 
Schwarber connected for a solo homer off Davies in the second, while Zobrist increased Chicago's lead to 6-3 with a blast off reliever Carlos Torres as part of a two-run seventh.
 
Kris Bryant entered Saturday's game 1 for 16 on the season but finished the series 6 for his last 10 to raise his batting average to .280. He went 3 for 4 with a walk Sunday.
 
Milwaukee did not get a hit after Braun's home run in the third inning until Domingo Santana homered off Hector Rondon with two outs in the ninth. Cubs closer Wade Davis came on to get the final out.
 
Jon Lester (0-0) will start Chicago's home opener Monday against the Dodgers. He limited St. Louis to one run over five innings on opening day. Lester is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Dodgers.
 
>>Reds Blank Cardinals
 
Scott Feldman allowed four hits and struck out six in six innings, and the Cincinnati Reds beat St. Louis 8-0 Sunday to take two of three from the Cardinals.
 
Adam Duvall had three hits, including a home run, and two RBIs for the Reds, who have won just five of their last 40 series at Busch Stadium.
 
St. Louis went 2-4 on its opening homestand and heads on a six-game trip to Washington and the New York Yankees.
 
Carlos Martinez (0-1) gave up six runs, five earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. He hit two batters, walked one and threw a wild pitch.
 
Duvall homered in the second, the first run off Martinez this season after 8 1/3 scoreless innings.
 
Zack Cozart tripled in a run in the fifth, and the Reds chased Martinez in the sixth as the Cardinals made three errors, including two on one play by third baseman Jhonny Peralta.
 
Martinez hit Jose Peraza with a pitch, threw a wild pitch and walked Joey Votto. Duvall singled for a 3-0 lead and Peralta allowed Eugenio Suarez's grounder to bounce off his glove, then threw the ball into right field for a double error as Votto scored.
 
Scott Schebler hit an RBI double off Brett Cecil, and a second run scored when right fielder Randal Grichuk fumbled the ball for an error as he tried to throw.
 
Votto homered leading off the ninth.
 
>>Twins Power Past White Sox
 
Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco homered to back Ervin Santana's six scoreless innings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 on Sunday.
 
Santana (2-0) held the White Sox to two singles and lowered his ERA to 0.69. Minnesota, which finished with the worst record in the majors last season, has the top mark in the American League at 5-1 after taking two of three from Chicago.
 
Jose Quintana (0-2) regrouped from a rough opening day start to allow two runs and strike out seven in 6 1/3 innings. Quintana, who has been the subject of trade speculation for the rebuilding White Sox, gave up six runs and three homers against Detroit in his season debut. Last year, he was an All-Star and set career bests for ERA (3.20) and strikeouts (181).
 
James Shields (1-0, 1.69) starts Tuesday at Cleveland against RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 3.18).

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Sergio Wins First Major, Green Jacket

It took 74 starts, but Sergio Garcia finally has his first major victory. 
 
The golf world toasted Garcia on Sunday evening as the man with nearly two decades of Masters experience finally slid on the green jacket. 
 
He finished in top-10 at Augusta three times (2002, 2004, 2013), now has the most career top-10s in majors all-time, and joins his idols Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal as one of three Spainiards to win the Masters. 
 
Justin Rose was a triumphant competitor and will likely win at Augusta National in the near future, but Sunday belonged to Sergio. You could feel it when he was able to save par after a wayward tee shot at No. 13 that required a drop and when he locked on a pair of greens on 14 and 15 to put the pressure on Rose coming down the stretch. That shot on 15 resulted in an eagle putt -- his first eagle in his last 452 holes at the Masters -- that saved his round and ultimately his first major.
 
Twice on 18, Garcia was the king of the moment, dropping a pair of approach shots that gave him a chance to win the tournament. But before Sergio’s long winning putt dropped, there was a miss from five feet that sent the competition to a playoff. 
 
Rose hit his tee shot to open the playoff into the woods and short of Garcia, then punched out to Garcia’s feet. With a one-stroke advantage on the hole, Garcia went on to deliver another clutch approach into the green and this time buried his birdie putt to win. 

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Tuscola Blanks Clinton

Andrew Erickson threw six shutout innings and Noah Pierce hit a two-run home run in a three-run second inning sending the Tuscola Warriors to a shutout of the Clinton Maroons 6-0 in Central Illinois Conference boys baseball action Thursday afternoon from Tuscola High School.
 
Erickson held the Maroons to six hits, walking one and struck out six. 
 
Cole Thomas closed the door in the seventh with an inning of scoreless relief.
 
The Warriors led 3-0 after after two innings. They would tack a run on in the third and two more in the fifth. 
 
Maroons starter Mac Hickman allowed six runs, though only two were earned runs as Clinton committed three errors in the game. Hickman struck out six and walked four in his five innings. Wesley Conn threw an inning of scoreless relief.
 
Hickman accounted for two of the Maroons three hits and Conn had the other hit. 
 
Haden Cothron finished 2-for-2 for Tuscola Thursday.
 
The Warriors improve to 7-6 overall and the Maroons drop to 4-3 and 1-2 in CIC play.

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Cubs Beat Cardinals; Sox Win

Matt Davidson had his first career triple and first home run as a member of the Chicago White Sox in an 11-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
 
Geovany Soto, the catcher who joined the White Sox as a free agent this offseason, added his first two home runs for Chicago to help give Rick Renteria his first victory as the team's manager.
 
James Shields (1-0) threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and striking out five. Shields allowed Tyler Collins' solo homer in the second inning to open the scoring, but the Tigers managed only four hits.
 
Soto's three-run home run in the third made it 5-1 and chased left-hander Matthew Boyd (0-1).
 
Derek Holland (7-9, 4.95) will make his White Sox debut Friday as the homestand continues against the Minnesota Twins.
 
>>Schwarber's Home Run Lifts Cubs Past Cardinals
 
In a most sticky situation, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina couldn't find a ball that clung to his chest protector and the Chicago Cubs turned the bizarre play into a late rally, beating St. Louis 6-4 Thursday.
 
The Cardinals led 4-2 in the seventh inning when things became crazy at Busch Stadium.
 
Pinch hitter Matt Szczur led off by striking out on a pitch from Brett Cecil that skipped in the dirt. The ball bounced into Molina's protector and appeared to get trapped by a sticky substance.
 
Molina kept looking around for the ball, and only found it once Szczur was at first base. The Gold Glove catcher gave a bemused look and smiled.
 
The Cubs capitalized when a walk set up Kyle Schwarber's go-ahead home run.
 
John Lackey (1-0) threw six solid innings against his former team and new Cubs closer Wade Davis got his second save.
 
Addison Russell drove in a pair of runs on groundouts for Chicago.
 
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn went 5 1-3 innings in his first appearance since Oct. 2, 2015. The right-hander, who'd been out since having Tommy John surgery, gave up two runs and five hits.
 
Cubs LHP Brett Anderson will face Milwaukee RHP Jimmy Nelson in the first of a three-game set in Milwaukee on Friday. Anderson will be making his Cubs debut after eight seasons with Oakland (2009-2013), Colorado (2014) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2015-16)
 
Cardinals RHP Mike Leake will face Cincinnati LHP Amir Garrett when St. Louis concludes its season-opening homestand with the first of a three games on Friday. Leake has won 10 or more games in four of the last six seasons.

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Bulls, Pacers Win in Race For Playoff Spot

Jimmy Butler had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and helped give Chicago's playoff hopes a needed boost in the Bulls' 102-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
 
The Bulls, Miami and Indiana entered the night with 38-40 records and in a three-way tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Butler had his fourth career triple-double.
 
Rajon Rondo sat out with a sprained right wrist and Dwyane Wade missed another game with a fractured right elbow. Wade, who scrimmaged on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured on March 15, could return as early as Saturday's game at Brooklyn. Wade, who averaged 18.6 points in his first season with his hometown team, had been ruled out for the season. But Wade was worked hard at joining the team minus any serious setbacks.
 
Rondo was hurt Tuesday night in a loss to New York.
 
With Rondo and Wade sidelined, the Bulls still cruised against the lowly Sixers. Jerian Grant scored 15 points starting for Rondo, Nikola Mirotic scored 22 and the Bulls took a 14-point lead in the first half.
 
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the Sixers with 18 points.
 
>>Pacers Beat Bucks
 
Paul George had 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-89 on Thursday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.
 
Point guard Jeff Teague added 15 points and seven assists for the Pacers, Thaddeus Young had 12 points. and Lance Stephenson nine in his third game back with Indiana.
 
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He scored 16 points in the first half to help the Bucks keep pace, but Indiana kept him in check in the second half and pulled away. Mirza Teletovic added 15 points for the Bucks.
 
Milwaukee has lost three straight after winning seven of previous eight.

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Blues Win, Blackhawks Lose

Each time St. Louis took the lead over the first 2 1/2 periods, Florida came back to tie the score. The Blues then finally put the game away over the last 9 1/2 minutes to get another big win.
 
Jaden Schwartz had a goal and two assists to lead surging St. Louis to a 6-3 victory over the Panthers on Thursday night. David Perron, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Berglund and Ryan Reaves also scored as the Blues improved to 13-2-2 in their last 17 games.
 
Jake Allen had 29 saves for the Blues, who remained one point ahead of Nashville for third place in the Central Division.
 
Vincent Trochek, Michael Matheson and Denis Malgin scored for the Panthers, who lost their sixth straight. James Reimer stopped 32 shots.
 
The teams combined for six goals in a wild third period.
 
Berglund put the Blues ahead for good when he deflected Jordon Schmaltz's shot in with 9:23 remaining for his 23rd goal of the season. Pietrangelo made it 5-3 with 6:11 left as he tipped Schwartz' shot past Reimer for his 14th. It was also Pietrangelo's 300th career point.
 
Schwartz capped the scoring with his 19th with 59 seconds to go.
 
Matheson had pulled Florida even at 2-2 just 55 seconds into the third with a wraparound that bounced off Allen's pad.
 
The Blues are at Carolina on Saturday.
 
>>Ducks Blank Blackhawks
 
Corey Perry scored a power-play goal, John Gibson made 37 saves in his 12th career shutout and the Anaheim Ducks clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
 
Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who moved to the brink of their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title in a meeting of the Western Conference's two division leaders.
 
Chris Wagner and Ryan Kesler also scored for Anaheim, which has earned points in 13 consecutive games since March 10 (10-0-3).
 
With the best record in the West already sewed up, the Central Division champion Blackhawks rested captain Jonathan Toews, forwards Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov and defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

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DJ Withdraws From Masters, Charlie Hoffman Up After Round 1

After injuring his back on Wednesday afternoon at his rental home , world No. 1 and event favorite Dustin Johnson withdrew from the 2017 Masters right before his 2:03 p.m. ET tee time on Thursday.
 
Johnson went through a halfhearted warm-up session on the range that did not include chipping or putting, got some treatment and tried to tee off at No. 1, but right before he was supposed to hit, he walked back toward the clubhouse with his head down. 
 
Incredibly, this is just the second time in the last 31 years a No. 1-ranked golfer has not played at Augusta National. The Official World Golf Rankings started in 1986.
 
On a day when Augusta National brought 93 participants to their knees, and Charley Hoffman shot an historic 65, somebody won the golf tournament with a 71 or 72. 
 
Johnson had won three straight PGA Tour events coming into this major championship. 
 
Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia lead the pack of contenders behind Hoffman, who shot an outrageous 31 on the second nine on Thursday and leads by four over William McGirt and five over Lee Westwood. 
 
That trio got around in 1-under 71 and fought for every inch of cold, wind-swept real estate they could find on Thursday in a wacky first round.
 
Of those just behind these three golfers, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy all shot even par. Jon Rahm, Danny Willett, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler are all 1 over. There are 25 golfers in all at 1 over or better. With Hoffman likely to come down to Earth over the final 54 holes, this tournament will turn into a hunt.

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Monticello Walks Off on St. Joseph-Ogden With Late Rally

Jeffry Wileaver’s walk off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning sent Monticello past St. Jospeh-Ogden in walk-off fashion, 7-6 Thursday afternoon from Monticello High School in Okaw Valley boys baseball action.

 

Trailing 6-3, the Sages left off the seventh inning by reaching base on back-to-back errors against starter Colton Hale. Hale was then lifted for Austin Cain who got Konnor Bundy to ground into a fielders choice, when Jaden Miller at third base tagged out lead baserunner Mitch Rhoades.

 

With one away, Alex Marquardt walked, loading the bases. A sac-fly RBI by Luke Stokowski brought a run in for a 6-4 deficit. Mitch Carr then sent a drive over the head of centerfielder Mason Coon and scored two runs.

 

With Carr at second and two outs, Wileaver laced a single to left field. The throw in was cut off for a relay that was off-line and allowed Carr to score standing and the Sages celebrated down the first base line.

 

Stokowski started for the Sages on the mound but was knocked around for six runs on on seven hits, striking out two and walking zero.

 

Cam Wittig relieved Stokowski with six shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks and five strikeouts.

 

Cain took the loss for St. Joe.

 

The Spartans drop to 7-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Okaw Valley conference.


The Sages improve to 8-2 on the year and are 1-1.

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Rain Postpones Cubs/Cards, Sox/Tigers

The finale of the three-game, season-opening series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs has been postponed.
 
The Cardinals said Wednesday afternoon's game was pushed back a day with severe weather forecast expected into the evening.
 
The two teams will make up the game Thursday afternoon.
 
The game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox has been postponed because of rain.
 
The game will be made up May 26 as part of a doubleheader beginning at 4:10 p.m. CT. The next game will begin 30 minutes after.
 
Only tickets for May 26 will be honored for the doubleheader. Tickets for Wednesday's game can be exchanged for tickets of equal or lesser value to any White Sox game this season.
 
 
Bad weather has played havoc with the scheduled three-game series. Opening Day was postponed on Monday. The teams played on Tuesday without delay - a 6-3 Detroit victory as Justin Verlander struck out 10 - but have played just one game in three days.

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Former Illinois Coach Groce To Akron

Akron has hired former Illinois coach John Groce to take over its program.
 
Groce replaces Keith Dambrot, who surprisingly left his alma mater last week after a successful run to coach at Duquesne.
 
Groce is familiar with the Mid-American Conference after spending four seasons at Ohio. He went 85-56 at the school and twice led the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament. Ohio upset Michigan in the 2012 tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16.
 
Illinois fired Groce last month after five seasons. He finished with a 95-75 record, but the Fighting Illini went just 39-53 in conference play.
 
Akron's program was one of the MAC's strongest under Dambrot, who became increasingly discouraged that the league could only get one NCAA bid.
 
The Zips made the NCAA field three times under Dambrot, but lost in this year's MAC championship to Kent State and played in the NIT.

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DJ Injures Back in Fall, Questionable for Masters

Dustin Johnson is now iffy to compete in the 2017 Masters. The overall favorite to win the tournament suffered a back injury after falling off some stairs at his rental home, according to his manager.
“At roughly 3:00 p.m. today, Dustin took a serious fall on a staircase in his Augusta rental home,” David Winkle said in a statement to Golf Digest. “He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably. He has been advised to remain immobile and begin a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication and icing, with the hope of being able to play tomorrow.”
 
Johnson was listed  5/1 to win the tournament  this week after winning his last three events in a row. If he is unable to go, Jordan Spieth would become the favorite at 13/2 with Rory McIlroy not far behind at 8/1, though those odds would likely change.
 
Johnson would be just the fourth golfer to miss the Masters while being ranked No. 1 in the world.
 
Last year, Johnson had his best performance in seven tries at Augusta, finishing tied for fourth. He is also coming off a win at the British Open in 2016.

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Illinois Drops Mizzou in Braggin' Rights Game

Michael Massey hit two homers and drove in four runs Tuesday as the Illinois baseball team beat Missouri 5-3 at GCS Ballpark. Illinois won the annual Braggin' Rights game in Sauget for the third straight year.
 
Illinois (10-16) and Missouri (21-8) scored seven of their combined eight runs off long balls with the wind blowing out. Jack Yalowitz also homered for the Illini, his fifth of the season, and Mizzou's Kameron Misner, Kirby McGuire and Trey Harris all hit solo shots. There were 13 hits in the game and six left the yard.
 
Massey hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a solo blast down the right field line in the seventh and added an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth. The ninth-inning single made the score 5-3 and gave closer Joey Gerber some breathing room. Gerber struck out two of three batters in the ninth to finish the game.
 
Ryan Thompson (1-1) picked up the win by throwing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed only one hit, as the Illini's bullpen went 4 2/3 innings while allowing only one run on two hits and striking out seven.
 
Illinois' first four pitchers - Cyrillo Watson (4.1 IP, 2 ER), Zack Jones (1.0 IP, 0 R), Thompson and Ryan Schmitt (1.0 IP, 0 R) - were all freshmen. Gerber, a sophomore, earned his third save in the last four games.
 
Missouri went 0 for 10 with runners on, 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 0 for 8 with two outs. The Tigers lost for the sixth straight game. The Illini win tied the season series 1-1.
 
Illinois returns to the diamond this weekend at No. 18 Michigan. The Wolverines host the Illini for three games Friday-Sunday.

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Valpraiso Outlasts ISU; Game With Northwestern Postponed

A battle of bullpens was decided by a bases-loaded walk in the top of the 12th inning as visiting Valparaiso earned a 4-3 win in 12 innings over the Illinois State baseball team Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.
 
Chase Dawson's bases-loaded walk forced in Riley Dent for the game-winning run. Illinois State went down in order in the bottom of the 12th.
 
Illinois State (7-19) scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3, but Valpo (10-16) won the won the game by keeping the Redbirds off the scoreboard for the next seven innings.
 
Illinois State evened the score with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of back-to-back doubles from Bryce Grimm and Collin Braithwaite. Grimm's double to right center scored Noah Sadler, just moments before Braithwaite found the left-center field gap to plate Nick Zouras and Grimm.
 
Neither team scored again until Dawson's bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning.
 
Braithwaite, who went 2-for-5 from the plate, was the lone Redbird to record multiple hits. Illinois State drew only one walk in the well-pitched game; Redbird pitchers issued only two free passes.
 
Redbird starter Colton Johnson allowed two runs over four innings, while striking out a career-high five batters. Jack Landwehr allowed one run over the next two innings, before scoreless appearances by Jeffrey Barton, Trevor Cross and Mitch Vogrin. Jeff Lindgren allowed a pair of singles and hit a batter to load the bases in the 12th before allowing the walk to Dawson, but limited the damage to just a single run.
 
The Redbirds' previously scheduled game with Northwestern on Wednesday has been canceled due to expected inclement weather. Illinois State will return to Duffy Bass Field on Friday for the beginning of a three-game series with Dayton. 

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Cubs Top Cardinals; Sox Lose in Opener; Piscotty Hurt

Albert Almora Jr. robbed Matt Adams of a home run and Javier Baez made a terrific sliding stop on Kolten Wong's game-ending grounder, sending Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
It looked as if the Cardinals had tied the game in the seventh, but Almora tracked Adams' deep fly ball to the wall and hauled it in with a leaping grab at the top of the fence in center. A pumped-up Almora then celebrated with left fielder Kyle Schwarber as Adams tipped his batting helmet in appreciation of the catch.
 
St. Louis had a runner on first in the ninth when Baez went into short right field to take a hit away from Wong. The Cardinals challenged the call on the bang-bang play, but it was allowed to stand.
 
Chicago jumped in front with two in the fourth. Addison Russell doubled and scored on Jason Heyward's single to center. Contreras then scampered home on Baez's safety squeeze.
 

Arrieta pitched six innings of one-run ball, helping the World Series champions bounce back from a wild 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Sunday night. Willson Contreras hit a tying three-run homer in the ninth inning of the opener, but the Cardinals won it in the bottom half on Randal Grichuk's game-ending single.
 
Adam Wainwright allowed two runs and three hits in five innings for St. Louis. The right-hander is hoping to bounce back this season after recording a 4.62 ERA last year.
 
With a 90 percent chance of rain in the forecast, the teams are scheduled to close out the series on Wednesday afternoon. St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn is set to make his debut after missing all of last season following elbow surgery, while Chicago right-hander John Lackey takes the mound after going 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA last season.
 
>>Quintana Knocked Around Early, Tigers Top Sox in Season Opener
 
Justin Verlander struck out 10 to match the most by a Detroit pitcher on opening day since Mickey Lolich in 1970, and the Tigers backed him with three home runs in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
JaCoby Jones hit his first career homer, Nick Castellanos and Ian Kinsler also went deep against Jose Quintana (0-1), and the Tigers sent Rick Renteria to a loss in his debut as White Sox manager.
 
A day after the teams were rained out, Jones' three-run homer and Castellanos' two-run drive in a five-run second lifted Detroit into a 5-1 lead. Kinsler added a solo shot in the fourth.
 
Verlander (1-0), the AL Cy Young Award runner-up last season, gave up two runs and six hits while walking two in 6 1/3 innings.
 
Francisco Rodriguez relieved with two on in the ninth and retired three straight batters for the save. He gave up an RBI groundout to Jacob May before catcher James McCann leaned over the railing in front of the Tigers dugout to snag Tyler Saladino's foul for the final out.
 
James Shields looks to begin his first full season with the White Sox on a stronger note Wednesday after going a combined 6-19 with a 5.85 ERA for the San Diego Padres and Chicago last year.
 
Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 4.87 last season) looks to rebound from an injury-riddled year, beginning with Wednesday's start.
 
>>Cardinals' Piscotty Has Rough Trip Around Bases
 
St. Louis outfielder Stephen Piscotty has left the Cardinals' game against the Cubs after he was hit in the head by a ball while sliding into home.
 
Piscotty departed in the fifth inning with a head contusion, and the team says he will be evaluated again on Wednesday.
 
Piscotty reached when he was hit by a pitch from Jake Arrieta. He was hit again by catcher Willson Contreras' throw when he stole second.
 
Piscotty then scored from second on Kolten Wong's infield hit to the right side of the mound. Cubs second baseman Javier Baez threw home, but the ball went off Piscotty's head.
 
Piscotty, who agreed to a $33.5 million, six-year contract a day earlier, was down on the field for several minutes after being hit Tuesday night. He eventually walked off the field.

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Pacers Win, Bulls Lose

Paul George scored 18 of his 35 points in the third quarter Tuesday night and the desperate Indiana Pacers rallied from a 19-point, first-half deficit and blew out Toronto 108-90.
 
The Pacers ended a four-game losing streak that saw them slide from a tie for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference to the very real possibility of missing the postseason.
 
DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which had won its previous two.
 
It was an astounding comeback for Indiana, which was so lethargic in the first half it needed an 8-2 spurt just to get within 51-40 at halftime.
 
The game was marred by a shoving match between Indiana's Lance Stephenson and Toronto's DeMarre Carroll with 3.3 seconds left. The melee spilled down the sideline and into the Pacers' bench, where Carroll and Toronto's P.J. Tucker were still jawing with Pacers players.
 
>>Knicks Top Bulls
 
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, and the New York Knicks snapped the Chicago Bulls' four-game win streak with a 100-91 victory on Tuesday night.
Courtney Lee had 14 points for New York, and Maurice Ndour added 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Knicks (30-48) had dropped seven of nine.
 
The Bulls (38-40) shot just 38.1 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers. They dropped into a tie with Indiana for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game ahead of idle Miami.
 
All-Star Jimmy Butler scored 26 points for Chicago, and Nikola Mirotic had 21 points.

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Blackhawks, Blues Lose

Erik Johnson went coast-to-coast to score at 1:57 of overtime and the Colorado Avalanche rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night.
 
Johnson grabbed the puck near his goal, took advantage of a line change by the Blackhawks to cruise up the ice and beat goaltender Scott Darling with a nifty shot. It was Johnson's second goal of the season.
 
Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog had short-handed goals for the last-place Avalanche, who won for just the second time in 10 games. Mikhail Grigorenko tied it up early in the third period off a pass from Duchene.
 
Artemi Panarin, Marcus Kruger and Ryan Hartman scored in the second period for the Blackhawks to stake them to a 3-0 lead. They remain stuck on a franchise record-tying 24 road wins.
 
The Blackhawks are at Anaheim on Thursday night for the second of three straight road games to finish the regular season.
 
>>Jets Blast Blues
 
18-year-old rookie Patrik Lane scored twice and Mark Scheifele had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 for their season-high fifth straight victory.
 
Laine hadn't scored since missing a game on March 26 with the flu. He finally feels all the way back.
 
Mark Stuart and Nikolaj Ehlers also had a goal and an assist apiece for the Jets, who swept the five-game season series against the Blues for the first time in franchise history. Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault each had two assists, and Michael Hutchinson made 24 saves for Winnipeg.
 
Alex Pietrangelo and Jori Lehtera scored for the Blues, who had their season-best point streak snapped at nine games. Jake Allen made 20 saves before being pulled for Carter Hutton in the third period.
 
The Jets scored three times in 62-second span early in the second.
 
Laine tied the score on a rebound at 1:47, and Ehlers gave the Jets the lead on a wraparound at 2:01. Stuart made it 3-1 when his slap shot bounced off a pair of Blues players and deflected over Allen into the net at 2:49.
 
Pietrangelo gave the Blues a 1-0 lead just 35 seconds into the game. Pietrangelo stopped a clearing attempt and followed his initial backhand shot with a rebound for his career-high 13th goal.
 
The last time the Blues gave up five goals was Jan. 31 against the Jets.
 
The Blues are at the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

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Masters Tee Times, Pairings Released

The 2017 Masters tee times and pairings were released Tuesday, a big part on a day of business at Augusta National Golf Club. After rain cleared the course and suspended play Monday, players went through practice rounds and press conferences during their time on site. 
 
Wednesday brings the Par 3 tournament and the final day of anxiety, but first we have to set the field in order for the championship’s opening rounds. 
 
The players that tee off first Thursday will be last Friday as the field flips, but the pairings will stay the same. That means two days of Jordan Spieth playing with Martin Kaymer, and Rory McIlroy with rising star Jon Rahm. Defending champion Danny Willett will tee off at 12:24 p.m. ET Thursday with Matt Kuchar and amateur Curtis Luck. 
 
Other pairings include: 
 
9:06 a.m. -- Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Adam Hadwin (Canada)
 
9:28 a.m. -- Adam Scott (Australia), Kevin Kisner, Andy Sullivan (England)
 
10:12 a.m. -- Russell Knox (Scotland), Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
 
10:45 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain), Si Woo Kim (Korea)

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St. Joseph-Ogden Blanks Monticello in Girls Softball Action

In a game heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, Kately Burch’s bases clearing double opened up a 6-0 lead capping a four-run fifth inning for St. Joseph-Ogden and Tori Witruk threw seven shutout innings as the Lady Spartans blanked Monticello 9-0 in Okaw Valley girls softball action Tuesday from Monticello High School.

 

Witruk went the distance in the circle for the Lady Spartans, allowing just five baserunners on four singles, striking out three and walking none.

 

Mackenzie Reedy had a pair of singles and Makayla Reedy and Jenny Hinton added singles as well for the Lady Sages, who drop to 4-4-1 on the season.

 

St. Joe was led by Burch, who tallied four RBI with a pair of doubles. Andrea Coursey added a pair of doubles with three runs scored. Logan Frerichs added a double, drew three walks and scored two runs.

 

Emmy Graver finished 1-for-3 with a pair of runs.

 

The Lady Spartans improve to 9-0 for the year.

 

Hear Monticello boys baseball action Thursday afternoon as they host St. Joseph-Ogden on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Lady Maroons Defeat St. Teresa in Conference Softball

Lady Maroons defeat St. Teresa in CIC softball action 10-2 in a game heard on WHOW on Tuesday evening.
 
Mackenzie Armstrong, pitcher for the Maroons, got the win. She pitched seven innings, gave up 2 runs on 7 hits while striking out 8, and walking none.
 
The Lady Maroons were led by Rodjahnar Dupont-Barlow, Stephan York Country Financial Player of the Game, who went 3-for-3 with a 3 run double, 4 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and 2 walks.
 
Zoie Polen went 1-for-4 with 3 RBIs and Amanda Tool went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
 
Hannah Stoneburg takes the loss for St. Teresa, pitching for seven innings, giving up 10 runs on 8 hits while striking out one, walking 8 and hitting two batters.
 
The Maroons go to 3-6 on the season and 1-1 in conference play; while St. Teresa falls to 1-7 overall and 0-2 in conference.
 
Tune in next Wednesday to hear the Clinton vs Monticello softball simulcast at 4:30pm on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW or 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.

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Wet Fields Cause Clinton's Tuesday Games To Be Moved to St. T

Today's Lady Maroons Varsity/JV Softball games against St. Teresa have been moved from

Clinton to St. Teresa.  Game time is still 4:30pm (JV to follow).  The corresponding
games on April 24th against St. Teresa will be played at Clinton.  
 
The "Game of the Week" broadcast for the Lady Maroons game today will go on as scheduled.  Coverage begins around 4:30p on 1520AM/92.3FM WHOW and online at DewittDailyNews.com.
 
Today's Maroons Varsity Baseball game against St. Teresa has been moved from Clinton to
St. Teresa.  Game time is still 4:30pm.  The corresponding game on April 24th
against St. Teresa will be played at Clinton.

 

Today's Maroons JV Baseball game at St. Teresa has been cancelled.  No make up date has
been set.

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White Sox Opener Rained Out

The Chicago White Sox have postponed their season opener against the Detroit Tigers because of rain.
With the field drenched and no break in the forecast, the game was called off 91 minutes after the scheduled start Monday. It will be made up on Tuesday afternoon.
 
The Tigers are trying to get back to the playoffs after missing the postseason for the second straight year. They finished eight games behind Cleveland in the AL Central and fell just short of a wild card.
 
The White Sox are rebuilding coming off a 78-84 finish and their fourth straight losing season. They traded ace Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton. Management stocked up on young players, hoping to turn around a franchise with one playoff appearance since 2005.

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North Carolina Upends Gonzaga For National Title

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.
 
It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.
 
The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.
 
Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.
 
Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Theo Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.
 
Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night, blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.
 
Williams got his third title, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.
 
Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 on a 6-for-19 night and, overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

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NHL Officially Turns Down Olympics

Like it or not, the NHL is not going to the 2018 Olympics.
 
That became official Monday, as the league announced it will not participate in the Pyeongchang games. The decision was not a surprise. Two weeks ago, commissioner Gary Bettman said to “assume we’re not going.”
 
While some players, namely the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, have gone on record to support Olympic participation, the NHL made it clear Monday that it will not break up its regular season to accommodate certain players’ wishes.
 
In fact, the NHL emphasized in its Monday announcement that it was open to considering an Olympics partnership on the condition that the NHL Players Association make a potential participation “more attractive to the clubs.” But that evidently did not occur.

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Illinois Sweeps Indiana State

Pat McInerney homered for the third straight game Sunday to lead the Illinois baseball team to a 5-2 win over Indiana State. The Illini swept the three-game series from the Sycamores.
 
McInerney hit a two-run shot to left field as part of a three-run second inning that put Illinois ahead 4-1. Casey Dodge also homered, the first of his career, in the fifth inning to add to the Illini's lead.
 
McInerney finished the series 4 for 9 with three homers and four RBIs.
 
Illinois (9-16) held Indiana State to four hits Sunday, and just 15 hits and seven runs in 27 innings this weekend. The Illini struck out 23 and walked nine during the three-game series.
 
Dan Giesler homered for the second straight day for Indiana State.
 
Illinois is back in action Tuesday against Missouri at Sauget, Illinois. The Illini travel to Michigan next weekend to resume Big Ten play.

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Cardinals Walk Off on Cubs in Season Opener; White Sox Put Rodon on DL

Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and a game-ending RBI single in the ninth, helping the St. Louis Cardinals top the Chicago Cubs 4-3 in a wild prime-time opener on Sunday night.
Jose Martinez sparked the winning rally with a pinch-hit double against Mike Montgomery, who closed out Chicago's World Series championship in November.
 
Yadier Molina then was awarded the first no-pitch intentional walk in major league history, part of baseball's offseason rule changes designed to speed up the game.
 
With two outs and the bases loaded, Grichuk's liner went into the gap in left-center for his second career game-ending hit. He was mobbed as he rounded first in the rain, and what was left of a sellout crowd of 47,566 cheered wildly.
 
>>Ahead of Season Opener, White Sox Place P Rodon on DL
 
Pitcher Carlos Rodon was placed on the 10-day disabled list by the Chicago White Sox because of bursitis in his left biceps.
 
The 24-year-old experienced tightness in his pitching arm late in spring training and was expected to begin the season on the DL. He went 9-10 last season with a 4.04 ERA and is 18-16 with a 3.90 ERA in 54 career games with the White Sox.
 
Chicago placed right-hander Juan Minaya (right abdominal strain) and outfielder Charlie Tilson (stress reaction in right foot) on the 10-day DL. The White Sox also selected the contracts of veteran catcher Geovany Soto, infielder Cody Asche and right-gander Anthony Swarzak from Triple-A on Sunday.
 
Chicago opens against Detroit on Monday.

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Butler Leads Bulls Over Pelicans; Pacers Lose

Jimmy Butler scored 39 points and the Chicago Bulls sustained their playoff push with a 117-110 victory over the recently resurgent New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
 
Butler made 14 of 26 shots, including all three of his 3-point shots, to help the Bulls win for the fifth time in six games. Chicago entered the day in a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with Miami and Indiana.
 
Butler's final points came on a step-back jumper with 20 seconds left stem a late Pelicans run.
 
Bobby Portis scored 21 points and Joffrey Lauvergne 15 for the Bulls, while Rajon Rondo added 10 points, nine assists, nine rebounds and three steals.
 
Anthony Davis had 30 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, while DeMarcus Cousins added 26 points and 18 rebounds.
 
>>Cavs Top Pacers in 2OT
 
LeBron James made a big 3-pointer in the final minute of the second overtime and scored 41 points to offset 43 by Indiana's Paul George, and the Cleveland Cavaliers opened their April schedule with a 135-130 win Sunday over the Indiana Pacers, who remain on the outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
 
James added 15 rebounds and 11 assists in 52 minutes for the defending NBA champions, who ended the game with some drama as Tristan Thompson and James angrily exchanged words during a timeout in the second OT.
 
Kyrie Irving made four free throws in the final 16.5 seconds and Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds as Cleveland stayed within a half-game of Boston for the top spot in the East. The Cavs visit the Celtics on Wednesday night.
 
George was magnificent in defeat, scoring 19 straight points for Indiana in the overtime sessions and adding nine rebounds and nine assists. But he couldn't prevent the Pacers from their eighth straight road loss.
 
C.J. Miles added 27 points for Indiana, which dropped its fourth in a row and didn't make up any ground in the playoff chase.
 
The Pacers host Toronto on Tuesday.

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Blues Win, Blackhawks Lose

Alexander Steen scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, David Perron had a goal and two assists, and the Blues beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 Sunday.
 
Vladimir Tarasenko and Joel Edmundson also scored, and Jake Allen stopped 35 shots as St. Louis earned at least at point for the ninth straight game (7-0-2). Allen improved to 9-1-2 with two shutouts and 16 goals allowed his past 12 starts.
 
Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville and Juuse Saros finished with 21 saves. The Predators, 8-4-0 in their last 12, had won four of the last five meetings with St. Louis before taking a loss that kept them from earning a playoff spot. Nashville needed one point in the game to clinch a berth, but can still qualify if Los Angeles doesn't win against Arizona later Sunday.
 
The Blues hold a two-point edge and the tiebreaker over Nashville. St. Louis rests in third place while Nashville is fourth in the division.
 
The Blues host Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
 
>>Bruins Hold Off Blackhawks
 
Backup goalie Anton Khudobin made 41 saves and the Boston Bruins held off the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.
 
Ryan Spooner, Patrice Bergeron and Kevan Miller scored for the Bruins, who jumped over idle Toronto and Ottawa into second place in the Atlantic Division. Boston began the day in wild-card position, four points ahead of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
Chicago's Artemi Panarin extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with his 29th. Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Blackhawks, who got 26 saves from Corey Crawford in their final regular-season home game.
 
The Blackhawks clinched first place in the Central Division and Western Conference on Saturday when Minnesota lost at Nashville. Chicago is assured of home-ice advantage through the first three playoff rounds.
 
The Blackhawks: are in Colorado on Tuesday night to start a three-game trip that wraps up the regular season. Chicago has 24 road wins, matching the team record.

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Gonzaga, North Carolina To Play For National Title

It's the blue blood vs. the new blood.
 
The contrast in the NCAA Tournament championship game is clear: North Carolina, winners of five titles and appearing in its record 20th Final Four, is in one corner. Gonzaga, in its first Final Four after spending almost two decades chugging up the mountaintop, is in the other.
But make no mistake. The programs might hang different kinds of banners in their arenas, but this is a heavyweight matchup all the way. These are two experienced, balanced, No. 1 seeds ready to throw down Monday at 9:20 p.m. ET from University of Phoenix Stadium.
 
North Carolina's Roy Williams will be coaching in his 100th NCAA Tournament game and going for his third national title. He has rings from 2005 and 2009, coming up just short of adding the 2016 title to his collection as the Tar Heels lost to Villanova on a last-second shot.
 
North Carolina (32-7) won the ACC regular-season title by two games and knocked off a No. 4 seed (Butler), a No. 2 seed (Kentucky) and a No. 3 seed (Oregon on Saturday night) to advance to the title game. The Tar Heels' bona-fides are unquestioned.
 
Plenty have doubted Gonzaga. The Bulldogs (37-1) have had their doubters because they play in the weaker West Coast Conference, and their last two games in the tournament were against upstarts -- 11th-seeded Xavier and seventh-seeded South Carolina.

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Russell Henley Wins Shell Houston Open

For two days, the 2017 Masters field dipped to 93. Tiger Woods withdrew on Friday, but there was still one spot up for grabs should somebody who was not already qualified win the Shell Houston Open on Sunday. That somebody turned out to be Russell Henley, who never shot a score in the 70s all week and closed with a 7-under 65.
 
Henley finished at 20 under on the week and defeated Sung Kang by three strokes after trailing him by four to start the final round.
 
Henley made 10 birdies on Sunday and finished first in the field for the week in putting. He even had a chance at the final hole to set the all-time PGA Tour record for feet of putts made in a single event, per the broadcast.
 
He gained two or more strokes per round on the field with his flat stick in all four rounds.
 
Kang led at the halfway point of the tournament after opening with a 65-63, but Henley’s 69-65 on the weekend was too much.
 
For Henley, this is his third PGA Tour win and means he will play in his fourth Masters after missing the 2016 edition. 
 
Rickie Fowler had an up-and-down week. The up was really up. He shot 64-67 on Thursday and Saturday, but then he shot 71-70 on Friday and Sunday. He finished T3 behind Henley and Kang, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. 
Only two golfers in the last 60 years have won the week before the Masters and gone on to win it. Fowler’s pal Justin Thomas noted recently how much winning takes out of you and how hard it is to recover.
 
Fowler finished No. 1 in the field in strokes gained tee to green and No. 19 in putting. 
 
Jordan Spieth missed the cut after a poor 77 on Friday. He was not too concerned about the outcome, and he shouldn’t be. Last time he missed the cut here (2014), Spieth went on to finish T2 at the Masters the following week. 
 
Now Fowler is primed for Augusta National and hungry to follow up a strong showing in Houston.

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