Duchene's 3-Hit Gem Shuts Out No. 23 Florida, 6-0

Sophomore Kevin Duchene threw a three-hit shutout in Illinois' 6-0 victory at No. 23 Florida on Friday night.
Sophomore Kevin Duchene threw a three-hit shutout in Illinois' 6-0 victory at No. 23 Florida on Friday night.

Feb. 28, 2014

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Pitch No. 100 sealed a three-hit shutout for sophomore starter Kevin Duchene in Illinois' 6-0 victory over No. 23 Florida (5-5) on Friday night. The Illini had six different players score and notched 12 hits, led by junior Will Krug's 4-for-5 effort with two RBI. In its two wins at McKethan Stadium on Friday, Illinois (4-4) allowed just two runs and seven hits, as it got back to .500 for the season.

"Kevin did a great job of pounding the zone," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Kevin was in command all night. He kept them off balance and threw multiple pitches for strikes. He was ahead in the count all night and had a low pitch total. After a good win this afternoon, we turned around with another great pitching performance."

Duchene (1-1) dealt his second career complete-game shutout with a dominant performance, including 10 fly outs, nine groundouts and six strikeouts. He gave up three hits and two walks but faced just 31 batters thanks to a pair of double plays. He also was the last Illini to pitch a shutout, doing so last season in a 9-0 victory over Penn State on May 10, 2013.

"I felt really good out there tonight," Duchene said. "I'm a pitcher that pitches to contact to let my defense work and that's exactly what they did. I give Florida a lot of credit because they made contact, but our defense was out in full force."

Illinois struck first in the top of the third with a two-out, two-run double by junior David Kerian. Krug and junior Casey Fletcher, who both singled, came home on the clutch base knock that put the Illini up 2-0.

Duchene faced the minimum the first time through the Florida lineup with his only blemish, a walk in the first, erased by an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. He ran into trouble for the only time in the fourth when a dropped fly ball in left loaded the bases with one out. The Joliet, Ill., native escaped the jam with a strikeout and fly out to preserve the two-run lead.

The Illini broke it open with a four-run sixth inning thanks to four hits and a UF error. Singles by redshirt-junior Reid Roper and sophomore Jason Goldstein started it off followed by sophomore Ryan Nagle beating out a bunt single to load the bases. Freshman Ryne Roper wore one to bring home his brother Reid and force a pitching change.

Fletcher plated Goldstein and reached on an error at third base for the second run in the stanza. Krug singled to right, driving in Ryne Roper and Nagle for the 10th Illini hit of the game and a 6-0 advantage.

"We came up with some clutch hits again," Hartleb said. "I was very happy with our guys being patient in certain situations. We continued to put pressure on them from an offensive standpoint. We swung the bats very well tonight."

Duchene retired eight straight midway through the game, as he cruised through 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth. Florida singled in the seventh but went down in order after its second hit of the game. The Gators got their third hit in the eighth, but Duchene erased it with a 4-6-3 double play followed by his sixth strikeout. Duchene threw seven pitches to cap off a perfect ninth inning.

Illinois took a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Florida, notching its first win against the Gators since 1959. The Illini dropped the last meeting in Gainesville in the 1998 NCAA Regional championship.

Up Next: Illinois will play Florida Gulf Coast at noon CT on Saturday at McKethan Stadium. John Kravetz will square off against Jack English on the mound.