Illini Split Pair at YMBL Classic
Feb. 25, 2012
BEAUMONT, Texas - Illinois dropped its first game on Saturday against Gonzaga, 7-3, but rebounded for a 9-2 win over the host Lamar Cardinals at the YMBL Cardinal Classic at Vincent-Beck Stadium. Willie Argo went 5-for-9 and Brandon Hohl was 4-for-9 with a homer and three RBIs on the day, while Matt Milroy, Luke Joyce and Ronnie Muck combined for eight innings of scoreless relief over the two games to lift the Illini to 2-4 on the season.
"In game one, I was disappointed because we came out in the first inning and just didn't make plays," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We didn't have a lot of quality at bats in that game and we didn't keep them off the board in the middle innings. In the second game, we shuffled the lineup and guys responded. We had some success early off pure hustle, then we moved runners and got some timely hits late in the game. We played extremely well defensively and the bullpen was outstanding. I was really pleased with Joyce and Muck in that second game. They kept throwing up zeroes on the scoreboard and really took control of the game."
In the opener, Gonzaga (6-0) struck first with four runs in the top of the first after a throwing error by Illini shortstop Reid Roper allowed the leadoff man to reach second and a bunt single put men on the corners. A sacrifice fly brought home a run and Gonzaga right fielder Royce Bolinger beat out an infield hit. A walk loaded the bases and Bulldog first baseman Marco Gonzales drove in two with a base hit through the right side. Another sacrifice fly brought the score to 4-0 after a half-inning.
Illini starter Rob McDonnell worked a clean second inning and Argo beat out an infield hit and stole second to start the bottom half. But he was stranded there after a groundout, an infield pop-up and a fly-out to right-center kept Illinois off the board.
McDonnell kept rolling in the third and fourth, working a 1-2-3 inning in the third and erasing a one-out walk in the fourth by picking the runner off to face the minimum in that inning. Unfortunately, Gonzaga starter Andy Hunter also found a groove in those two innings, retiring the Illini in order in both frames.
The Bulldogs touched up McDonnell for a pair of runs in the fifth after three consecutive singles to start the inning and a sacrifice fly, pushing their lead to 6-0. Gonzaga added another tally in the sixth on a solo homer by left fielder Billy Moon that hit the right-field foul pole, making the Zags' advantage 7-0.
Milroy finished the sixth for McDonnell but got off to a rocky start in the seventh, giving up a walk and an infield hit to the first two batters. But he kept his composure, striking out the next hitter before coaxing a pair of infield pop-ups to escape the jam. In the bottom half, Argo knocked a base hit with two outs and Jordan Parr also singled up the middle. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson knocked a single to right and the right fielder pulled up on it, allowing the ball to roll under his glove, all the way to the warning track. Argo and Parr scored, and Hendrickson circled the bases before the throw came in from the outfield, bringing the Illini within 7-3.
Milroy worked around a one-out infield hit in the eighth thanks to two strikeouts, but the Illini went down in order in the bottom half. Milroy worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including his fourth strikeout to finish the frame, and Roper tried to start something in the bottom half with a one-out base hit. Argo singled to right to put two men on with one out, but Jordan Parr struck out and Hendrickson flew out to center to end the game.
In game two, the Illini jumped on Lamar (2-2) early, scoring four in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Thomas Lindauer started the game by beating out an infield single and Argo legged out a bunt single. Left fielder Justin Parr sacrificed them over and third baseman Brandon Hohl singled back up the middle to bring home both runs. He advanced to second on the throw home and moved to third on shortstop Reid Roper's fly-out to center. First baseman Jordan Parr drove home Hohl with a base hit through the right side and right fielder Davis Hendrickson struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but the catcher's throw to first was too high, allowing Parr to score and Hendrickson to motor around to third base, posting the Illini to a 4-0 lead.
Lamar got a run back in the bottom of the first after a leadoff walk, a groundout to third that moved the runner and a passed ball that put the runner on third. A sacrifice fly brought him home and Illini starter Nick Chmielewski walked the next two hitters. But he regained his composure and struck out Lamar right fielder Jude Vidrine to escape the jam with a 4-1 lead.
The Illini went down in order in the second and the Cardinals posted another run on a leadoff home run to start the bottom half. But Chmielewski kept his cool, working around a two-out base hit to retire the side and hang on to a 4-2 lead.
Hohl added to the Illini lead in the fifth when he blasted a 1-2 change-up over the fence in left-center for his second home run of the season, a solo shot, pushing the margin to 5-2. In the bottom half, Chmielewski ran into a bit of trouble by sandwiching a leadoff walk and a single around a fly-out to Argo. Luke Joyce took over and promptly induced an inning-ending 6-3 double play to escape the jam and keep the Illini lead intact.
The Orange and Blue added two runs in the sixth when Hendrickson led off with a single and moved to second on Norris-Jones' sacrifice bunt. Shelton moved him to third with a groundout and Lindauer drove him in with a base hit to left, chasing Lamar starter Shane Hamaker. Lindauer stole second off reliever John Gilligan and took third on a wild pitch. Argo then ripped a base hit to left, driving home Lindauer and pushing the Illini lead to 7-2.
Joyce gave up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth but rebounded by coaxing a pair of fly-outs and inducing a routine ground ball to Lindauer for the final out. He set down the Cardinals in order in the seventh, requiring only nine pitches, before giving way to Ronnie Muck in the eighth. Muck also allowed a leadoff walk but erased it with a 6-4-3 double play from the next hitter. He then coaxed a groundout to Roper to end the frame.
In the ninth, Illinois tacked on two more insurance runs. Justin Parr drew a leadoff walk and Hohl singled to left. Both runners moved up with the left fielder's throw to the cutoff man was wild and Parr scored on Roper's groundout to first base. Jordan Parr grounded out to the shortstop, driving in Hohl and pushing the margin to 9-2. Muck got two quick outs before giving up a walk. He induced a fly ball to right-center by the next hitter and Hendrickson made a diving catch in the gap to end the game.
Hohl led the way offensively in game two, going 3-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs. Lindauer was 2-for-4 with an RBI, a steal and two runs, while Jordan Parr went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. Argo also had two hits, going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run. Hendrickson went 1-for-3 with two walks and a run. On the mound, Joyce tossed 2 2/3 near-perfect innings of relief, allowing only one walk. Muck was nearly as good, allowing two walks over two innings of work while striking out one.
On the day, Argo went a blistering 5-for-9 with an RBI, a steal and a run, while Hohl was 4-for-9 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs. Jordan Parr was 3-for-9 with two RBIs, a steal and two runs, while Lindauer went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a steal and two runs. Milroy, Joyce and Muck also combined for eight innings of scoreless relief, allowing only two hits and four walks while striking out five.
The Illini return to action against Lamar on Sunday at 11 a.m. Freshman John Kravetz will make his first career start as Illinois looks for a weekend split.