Illini Bounce Back with 5-4 Win at Coastal Carolina

Drasen Johnson struck out five and earned his first win as a starter on Saturday at Coastal Carolina.
Drasen Johnson struck out five and earned his first win as a starter on Saturday at Coastal Carolina.

Feb. 22, 2014

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson allowed three runs (one earned) in 6.2 innings and the bullpen held on to a 5-4 bounce-back win for Illinois (2-3) at Coastal Carolina (2-3). Johnson picked up his first win as a starter and sophomore Tyler Jay closed out his second career save. Sophomore Ryan Nagle's three-run double highlighted a four-run fifth inning that put the Orange and Blue up 5-0 in their second game at Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach Tournament.

"I was really pleased with our pitching today," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Drasen got us deep into the game against a good left-hand hitting lineup. Ronnie got a key out in the seventh and got us through the eighth, then Tyler shut it down in the ninth. We played a solid team and overall played well."

The Illini grabbed a 1-0 lead with a timely two-out hit in the top of the second. Junior Will Krug doubled down the left-field line and scored sophomore Jason Goldstein for the first run of the game.

Illinois showed patience at the plate and capitalized on an error in a four-run fifth inning. Juniors David Kerian and Reid Roper walked to begin the frame followed by a throwing error that allowed freshman Pat McInerney to reach on a sac bunt. With the bases loaded, Nagle launched a double to right field that brought home three runs thanks to McInerney avoiding the tag at home with his slide.

After a pitching change and two strikeouts, junior Casey Fletcher collected his first career hit as an Illini with an RBI single up the middle that plated Nagle. The Oakwood, Ill., native started in left field and finished 1-for-3 with a walk in his debut.

After a CCU single started the game, Johnson retired 14 straight while cruising through the first 4.2 innings. The streak ended with a two-out single by Richard Carter in the fifth followed by the Chanticleers taking advantage of a pair of Illini errors to score two unearned runs. Reid Moman doubled to center and Carter scored when Krug misplayed the ball. Moman came home when Reid Roper dropped the liner by Anthony Marks, but the Illini still led 5-2.

"Drasen was really good," Hartleb said. "He got better as the gamed moved along. He had a very good change up, commanded the zone and stayed ahead in the count. He also came up with some key strikeouts in tight situations."

CCU cut it to a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out RBI single. Muck relieved Johnson and ended the stanza with a groundout to the pitcher. In the eighth, G.K. Young hit a solo homer off Muck to make it 5-4.

Jay worked a hitless ninth inning with two strikeouts, a two-out walk and a groundout to short to end the game. The Lemont, Ill., native has both saves in Illinois' two wins this season.

The middle of Illinois' lineup accounted for all five runs in Saturday's game. Goldstein matched a career-high with three hits, Nagle finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and Krug went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Up Next: Illinois will wrap up play at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament on Sunday morning against Connecticut at 9 a.m. CT on Sunday. Junior John Kravetz will take the mound against Brian Ward.