Bats Come Alive as Illini Rout FGCU, 9-1
March 1, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Illinois (5-4) improved to 3-0 on the weekend with a 9-1 rout of Florida Gulf Coast (6-5) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Illini racked up double-digit hits for the third consecutive game, while junior starter John Kravetz cruised to his first win with one run over seven innings. Junior Casey Fletcher and sophomore Ryan Nagle each went 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI in the victory.
"I was really pleased with our third good pitching performance in a row," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We played very well from a defensive standpoint and came up with some key hits. We have done a good job of situational hitting over the last three games that has led to three victories. It was a solid team win. There hasn't been one superstar, just a lot of guys doing their job and playing good team baseball."
FGCU got on the board in the bottom of the first, but the Illini responded immediately with four runs in the top of the second and never looked back. After a pop out started the stanza, Nagle and Fletcher both singled followed by a walk to sophomore Adam Walton that loaded the bases. A free pass to redshirt-freshman Zack Kolakowski brought home Nagle, while an FGCU balk plated Fletcher and forced a pitching change with Illinois ahead 2-1.
After the change, the Orange and Blue tallied two more runs when junior Will Krug laced a single to right, driving in Walton and Kolakowski for a 4-1 advantage. The Illini missed a chance for more with runners in scoring position and one out when a line out double play ended the inning.
In the third, Illinois loaded the bases again with a hit by pitch to redshirt-junior Reid Roper and singles by Goldstein and Nagle. Fletcher connected on an RBI single and Walton sent a sacrifice fly to right to give the Illini a 6-1 edge.
Both teams put up zeroes in the fourth, then the Illini tacked on one in the fifth. Goldstein doubled to start the stanza and Fletcher drilled an RBI single to center, making it 7-1.
Illinois loaded the bases for a third time in the sixth and added two more runs. With one out, freshman Anthony Drago walked as a pinch-hitter followed by a Kerian hit by pitch, a strikeout and a Goldstein base on balls. Nagle lifted a two-out, two-run single to left, bumping it up to 9-1.
Following the lone run allowed in the first, Kravetz tossed six straight scoreless innings before sophomore J.D. Nielsen took over in the eighth, where he made quick work with a double play and a strikeout. Kravetz scattered six hits over seven innings with one walk and a strikeout in his best start of the young season.
"John had much better composure today," Hartleb said. "He was ahead in the count and pounded down in the zone. He continues to get better."
Redshirt-sophomore Charlie Naso worked a perfect ninth on eight pitches to wrap up the rout. Illinois' pitchers have allowed three runs over 27 innings (1.00 ERA) so far this weekend with all three starters earning a win.
Up Next: Illinois will look complete a sweep of its weekend in the Sunshine State when it takes on No. 23 Florida on Sunday at noon CT. Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson will toe the rubber against lefty A.J. Puk.