Kevin Johnson tossed seven scoreless innings but got a no-decision as Illinois dropped a 9-6 loss to Central Michigan in 10 innings.
March 4, 2011
DELAND, Fla. - Illinois jumped out to a 5-0 lead but Central Michigan took advantage of seven hits, seven walks and an error in the last three innings to take a 9-6 victory in 10 innings in the first game of the Bright House Invitational Friday. Starting pitcher Kevin Johnson pitched seven scoreless innings and third baseman Brandon Hohl went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the offense.
"Kevin Johnson pitched extremely well and deserved to win, but we were bad out of the bullpen," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We had seven walks and didn't have a pitcher who came in and got the first hitter out that he faced. It's tough to overcome those things."
Both pitchers worked quickly in the early innings, with Johnson needing only six pitches to retire Central Michigan in the first and Chippewa starter Bryce Morrow requiring only eight to set down Illinois in order.
Johnson gave up a leadoff single in the second and a sacrifice bunt put the runner on second, but the Illini sophomore recorded consecutive groundouts to end the inning. After Illinois went quietly in the second, Johnson allowed a one-out bunt single and the runner moved to second on a failed pick-off attempt. A walk and a double-steal put men on second and third with one out, but Johnson induced a liner to Matt Dittman at first base and a bunt back to the mound to dance out of the jam.
Neither team mounted a threat in the fourth and Johnson worked around a two-out error and a base hit, inducing a groundout to shortstop Josh Parr to end the frame. That's when the Illini bats woke up as Dittman drew a leadoff walk and catcher Adam Davis singled up the middle, putting men on the corners. Dittman scored on a wild pitch and Davis came home on second baseman Justin Parr's triple down the right-field line. Third baseman Brandon Hohl doubled to left-center, plating Parr, and, two outs later, Josh Parr singled to left to bring in Hohl for a 4-0 Illinois lead.
Johnson worked clean frames in the sixth and seventh innings and the Illini added a run in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Adam Davis was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Justin Parr doubled down the right-field line. Hohl singled through the left side to bring home Davis, pushing the Illini lead to 5-0.
But CMU battered the Illini bullpen in the eighth, drawing three straight walks from reliever Brian de la Torriente to load the bases, then scoring two on a base hit against Lee Zerrusen before reloading the bases on an infield hit. A sacrifice fly brought home another run and a walk loaded the bases again. Hohl's throw to second to potentially start a double play was wild, allowing a run to score and bringing Wes Braun in to relieve Zerrusen. Braun surrendered a two-run single before Davis caught a runner stealing and Braun induced a grounder to Dittman to retire the side as the Chippewas took a 6-5 lead.
The Illini got a run back in the bottom of the eighth when Josh Parr beat out an infield hit and advanced on a throwing error by the second baseman. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. Center fielder Willie Argo singled to center but was caught stealing, and Dittman struck out to end the frame with the game tied, 6-6.
Braun worked out of a jam in the ninth after walking two of the first three hitters in the inning. He coaxed a flyout to Davis Hendrickson in right field and Davis caught another runner stealing to end the frame. Hohl knocked a two-out single in the bottom half of the frame, but a strikeout sent the game into extra innings.
Will Strack relieved Braun to start the tenth inning and gave up a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third and he came home on a bunt single. A walk put men on first and second, and Luke Joyce relieved Strack. He gave up a base hit that loaded the bases and another single that drove in two runs. But the runner from first was called out after missing the plate, becoming the second out of the inning. Joyce then fanned the next hitter to end the frame, but CMU had taken a 9-6 lead.
Hohl led the Illini on the day, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. Justin Parr went 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, an RBI and a run, and Josh Parr was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run. Davis also went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Johnson pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and a walk with three strikeouts, but received a no-decision.
Illinois returns to action Saturday against host Stetson at 6 p.m. Senior John Anderson will get the start on the mound for the Illini.