Comeback Falls Short as Streak Ends in 6-5 Loss to UTA
March 3, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas - Illinois battled back from five runs down to tie it in the seventh inning, but couldn't complete the comeback, as the Illini fell to Texas-Arlington, 6-5, on Sunday at Clay Gould Ballpark. The loss snapped Illinois' six-game winning streak and gave the Orange and Blue a 3-1 record at the UTA/Hilton Invitational and a 7-4 overall mark after three weekends of play.
"We got beat today because of lack of fundamentals," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "There are things that we work on everyday that we just didn't execute today. We've got to get outs on bunts early in the game and not give up leadoff walks or hit by pitches. In order for us to win tight games, we have to execute the little things."
The Illini fell behind for the first time all weekend when the Mavericks scored two runs in the bottom of the second on a safety squeeze and an RBI groundout. UTA added three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead. A two-run single by UTA's Matt Shortall knocked sophomore starter John Kravetz out of the game. Freshman Ryan Castellanos took over on the mound and gave an RBI single before ending the frame with a strikeout.
Illinois had just four base runners through six innings before tying it up 5-5 thanks to a five-run seventh inning. Three consecutive RBI singles by senior Brandon Hohl, redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper and pinch-hitter Ryan Nagle cut the deficit to two. After a fielder's choice put two outs on the scoreboard, sophomore Michael Hurwitz doubled down the right field line and scored Roper and sophomore Will Krug to even the contest.
"I was really proud of our guys to see the way they responded and came back," Hartleb said. "We had been shut down offensively until we got the big five-run inning. No one gave up, and we had the big rally which was a positive."
Texas-Arlington jumped back in front with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, which proved to be the winning run, as the Mavericks held on for the victory in the top of the ninth. Roper led off the final inning with a single but was doubled up at first on a popped up bunt before a flyout to left field ended the game.
Illinois hit .329 as a team and scored 32 runs over the four games in Arlington. Four players hit over .400, led by junior Thomas Lindauer at .467 (7-for-15). Roper registered a .417 average (.512), while senior Justin Parr hit .412 (7-for-17) and redshirt-junior Jordan Parr totaled a mark of .400 (6-for-15). The pitching staff only allowed 10 earned runs and combined for a 2.57 ERA. The Illini also had 13 extra-base hits with nine doubles, two triples and two home runs.
"Overall, we did a good job this weekend," Hartleb said. "Anytime you start out 3-0, you get a little bit greedy. I want to win every game, so today was disappointing, but I was happy with the progress we made."
Up Next: Illinois will head back to Texas next weekend for a three-game series against Baylor in Waco. The Illini will face the Bears on Friday, March 8 at 6:35 p.m. followed by a doubleheader on Saturday, March 9 with games at 2:05 p.m. and 6:35 p.m.