Illini Stumble Against South Florida, 12-3

Matt Dittman led the Illini offense, going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Matt Dittman led the Illini offense, going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.

Feb. 27, 2010

Box Score

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Illinois got within a run twice against South Florida, but the Bulls took advantage of two Illini errors and four hits of their own in the seventh inning on the way to a seven-run frame and a 12-3 win at Bright House Networks Field. Illini first baseman Matt Dittman went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs as Illinois fell to 1-1 on the season.

"We didn't play well in any aspect of the game tonight," Illini coach Dan Hartleb said. "Their pitcher threw well but we didn't make any adjustments at the plate. We weren't very sharp on the mound but we found a way to battle and stay in the game early on, but we had that one inning where we didn't do many things well on the mound or defensively."

USF jumped on top early with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning after starer Brian de la Torriente had retired the first two hitters of the game and given up a single. But the Illini got a run back in the bottom of the inning when center fielder Willie Argo drew a one-out walk and moved to second when the catcher mis-handled the exchange from glove to hand after a pitch. Dittman doubled him home, cutting USF's lead to 2-1.

But the Bulls tacked on another run in the fourth when USF DH Jimmy Falla reached on an error by second baseman Pete Cappetta. He stole second and moved to third when the pitch got away from Illini catcher Aaron Johnson, then came home on a double to the right-field corner by third baseman Jonathan Koscso, pushing USF ahead 3-1.

USF added a run in the sixth after de la Torriente hit the first man in the inning and gave up an RBI double two batters later. Bryan Roberts came on in relief and hit the first man he saw, but coaxed two groundouts to finish the inning with the Bulls up 4-1.

The Illini fought back when shortstop Josh Parr knocked a one-out single off the second baseman's glove before Argo and Johnson drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Dittman singled through the right side to bring home two, but left fielder Casey McMurray grounded into a double play to end the threat as Illinois cut USF's lead to 4-3.

But USF opened the floodgates in the top of the seventh, using four hits and taking advantage of two Illinois errors to push across seven runs as the Illini used three pitchers in the inning, increasing the Bulls' lead to 11-3. USF added a run in the eighth off freshman Matt Milroy, who hit a batter and gave up an RBI double as the Bulls extended their lead to 12-3.

Dittman was 2-for-3 with a double and all three Illini RBIs, while Argo walked twice and scored twice, and Parr was 1-for-4 with a run. Third baseman Brandon Hohl and pinch hitter Thomas Shelton picked up the other two hits for the Orange and Blue.

Illinois finishes its appearance in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge Sunday when it faces a 5-0 St. John's team at noon CT at the Naimoli Complex.