Illini Come Up Empty Against George Mason, 3-0
Feb. 21, 2014
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Sophomore starter Kevin Duchene struck out a season-high seven over seven innings, but allowed a three-run homer in the fifth, which proved to be the only runs of the game in a 3-0 loss to George Mason (4-1). Illinois (1-3) out-hit the Patriots six to five on Friday night but missed opportunities and were shut out for the first time this season.
"It wasn't a poorly played game, but we didn't execute the little things that win games for you," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We had opportunities early. One opportunity with less than two outs and a runner on third but we didn't put the ball in play. Then we had multiple opportunities with runners in scoring position and two outs, but couldn't come up with the big hit."
Illinois was 0-for-13 with runners on-base and 0-for-7 with two outs in its opening game of Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach Tournament at TicketReturn.com Field. The Illini left a runner stranded at third in both the second and fourth inning. Redshirt-junior Reid Roper tripled with one out in the second but couldn't get home after an Illini strikeout and groundout. Junior David Kerian doubled with one out in the fourth but ended the inning on third after a groundout and fly out.
Duchene put up zeroes in six of his seven innings and only allowed hits in two stanzas. After allowing two hits in the first, he worked out of a jam, leaving GMU runners at second and third to start the game. After a walk to the leadoff hitter in the second, Duchene retired the next 10 Patriots before running into trouble with three two-out hits in the fifth.
Duchene struck out the first two batters in the fifth, but GMU followed it with three consecutive hits. Mick Foley doubled down the left and Brandon Gum extended the inning with an infield single to the hole at short. On the very next pitch, leadoff hitter Chris Cook belted his third home run of the year to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead.
"Kevin did a good job and just made the one mistake," Hartleb said. "We had some non-plays in that inning that could have ended it, so we wouldn't have been in that situation. We don't make a play and then turn around and don't make a pitch, so we made the mistakes."
Junior Josh Ferry made his first appearance in relief and cruised through a perfect eighth inning on eight pitches. The Illini began the ninth with a single by junior Michael Hurwitz but followed it with a fly out and a 4-6-3 double play that ended the game.
Illinois dropped its second game in a row and three of four to start the year. The Illini also started last season 1-3 before winning 12 of their next 13 on their way to a second NCAA Regional appearance in three years.
Up Next: Illinois will return to action against host Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT. The Illini will send righty Drasen Johnson to the bump against lefty Ben Smith at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, the minor league home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.