Right fielder Davis Hendrickson had three hits, an RBI and a run in Illinois 9-4 win over No. 27 St. John's.
Feb. 19, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Freshman John Kravetz pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Illinois got homers from third baseman Brandon Hohl and first baseman Jordan Parr to notch its first win of the season with a 9-4 victory over No. 27 St. John's in the final game of the Big Ten/Big East Challenge at Jack Russell Stadium. The Illini scored seven runs with two outs and held the Red Storm to only three hits after the first inning.
"We did a great job in a lot of areas and got away with a win," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "It's important for our guys to learn how to win and to start winning, so it was a big day for us and I'm very pleased with the performance. We got in trouble early in the first inning and brought John Kravetz in for his first college appearance. He gave us six scoreless innings and was very, very good. He came in with the bases loaded and got a ground ball for a double play, then cruised from there. Offensively, I thought we did a very good job of moving runners and we had a couple big home runs early to get us right back in the game."
The Illini got going early when Hohl hammered an 0-1 offering from St. John's starter James Lomangino over the fence in left field for his first home run of the season and a 1-0 lead. Illinois starter Nick Chmielewski made his first start since 2009 and his first appearance since 2010 but wasn't able to consistently locate his pitches, giving up four walks, a single and a three-run home run before Kravetz took over with the bases loaded. With his first pitch, Kravetz induced a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam, but the Red Storm had taken a 3-1 lead.
Neither team mustered any offense in the second or third innings, and center fielder Willie Argo drew a two-out walk in the fourth. First baseman Jordan Parr blasted a 3-2 pitch from Lomangino out to left, tying the game at 3, and right fielder Davis Hendrickson singled through the right side. Catcher Kelly Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch and DH David Kerian singled to left-center, driving in Hendrickson to give the Illini a 4-3 lead.
Kravetz worked around a two-out double in the fourth to post another scoreless frame and Hohl got it rolling in the bottom half with a one-out base hit. Shortstop Reid Roper singled to left-center and Argo singled through the left side, plating Hohl. Argo stole second and Parr was intentionally walked to load the bases. But the Red Storm made a pitching change and Jake Woodward struck out the first two hitters he faced to escape the jam as Illinois extended its lead to 5-3.
Kravetz kept rolling in the fifth, needing only eight pitches to retire the side, and Kerian walked to start the sixth. He moved to second on a passed ball and, after an out, moved to third on left fielder Justin Parr's groundout to shortstop. St. John's brought in closer Matt Carasiti, who threw a wild pitch with his first offering that allowed Kerian to scamper home and push the Illini's lead to 6-3.
Kravetz pushed another quick inning in the sixth, requiring just seven pitches, and the Illini added two more runs in the seventh. Argo knocked a one-out single to right and Jordan Parr bounced to second, where Argo was put out, but the second baseman's throw to first was low and skipped past the first baseman, allowing Parr to advance to second. Hendrickson poked an RBI single to left, plating Parr, and stole second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Norris-Jones scalded a ball to left that the left fielder misplayed, allowing it to drop in for an RBI double and staking the Orange and Blue to an 8-3 lead.
Kravetz ran his string of consecutive hitters retired to 10 in the bottom of the seventh when he fanned two hitters and coaxed a fly-out to Argo. He punctuated his outing by striking out St. John's slugger Jeremy Baltz to end the inning.
Bryan Roberts returned to the mound for the first time since 2010 when he took over for Kravetz in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single, which Argo misplayed, allowing the hitter to cruise into second base. Roberts induced a groundout to Hohl, but the runner moved up to third on Hohl's throw to first and scored when Jordan Parr's return throw across the diamond sailed wide of third base. But Roberts kept his composure, inducing a fly-out to Argo and striking out the final hitter to end the inning with Illinois leading 8-4.
But the Illini got the run back in the ninth when Jordan Parr drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hendrickson singled to right, pushing Parr to third, and Norris-Jones drove him home with a groundout to shortstop. Hendrickson was moving on contact and wheeled around to third on the play as Illinois pushed its lead to 9-4.
Illini closer Reid Roper came on to pitch the ninth and made short work of the Red Storm, inducing a groundout to Hurwitz before striking out the next two hitters looking to end the game.
Kravetz was stellar, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings of relief, allowing only two hits, one walk and one hit batter while striking out six. He faced only three hitters over the minimum and needed just 79 pitches, throwing 53 strikes (67 percent). Roberts gave up an unearned run on one hit, striking out one, while Roper pitched a perfect ninth frame with two strikeouts.
Hendrickson led the Illini offense, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs. Hohl was 2-for-4 with a homer and two runs, and Jordan Parr went 1-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs, three runs and two walks. Norris-Jones was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Roper went 2-for-5.
The Illini return to action Friday, Feb. 24, at the YMBL Cardinal Classic, hosted by Lamar University. Illinois will face Gonzaga on Friday and Saturday before playing the host Lamar Cardinals Saturday afternoon and Sunday.