Senior Kevin Johnson tossed eight scoreless innings and earned his third win of the season.
March 15, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Senior Kevin Johnson struck out four and scattered seven hits in eight scoreless innings to lead Illinois to a 4-1 victory over Southern Illinois on Friday afternoon. The Midlothian, Ill., native picked up his third win in his longest outing of the year, while redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper allowed SIU's only run before closing out the Illini's fourth-straight win.
"Kevin Johnson did an outstanding job today," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "He got out of two different jams and was in command of his pitches all day. He really competed well and kept the ball down in the zone."
Johnson passed Jason Anderson and moved into fourth place on the school's career innings pitched list with 299.2. The senior is one out away from joining Mark Dressen (328.2), Brett Weber (315.2) and Drew Dickinson (304.2) as the only Illini pitchers to throw 300-plus innings in their careers. He threw 117 pitches against the Salukis and only allowed one walk.
Illinois, which has won 10 of its last 11 games and improved to 11-4 overall, scored in three different innings with two outs on the scoreboard. The Illini had three two-out hits and brought in a run on every one. Junior Thomas Lindauer had two of them and finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, while redshirt-junior Jordan Parr had the first one in the opening frame. Senior Justin Parr also had a standout day, scoring three times after collecting two walks and a double along with throwing out a runner at the plate.
"We came up with some two-out hits against a very good pitcher," Hartleb said. "Our three two-out hits were huge for us and made the difference. I'm really pleased with the guys finding ways to win on a regular basis right now."
The Illini scored in the first inning for the ninth time this season and grabbed a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI double to left field by Jordan Parr that plated sophomore Will Krug. The Orange and Blue played fundamental baseball in the fourth to add another run to the board. Justin Parr walked to start the inning, advanced to third on back-to-back groundouts and scored on a two-out single by Lindauer.
In the top of the sixth, Illinois tacked on its third run with two outs on another RBI single by Lindauer. Justin Parr walked, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout before Lindauer hit a liner into left field to put the Illini ahead 3-0. In the bottom half, a perfect throw by center fielder Justin Parr to catcher Jason Goldstein gunned out the runner at home to end the sixth and keep the Salukis off the board.
"It was a great throw by Justin that was right on the money," Hartleb said. "It took a little bit of momentum away from SIU and got our team fired up, so that was a big play in the game."
Sophomore David Kerian provided an insurance run in the top of the eighth when he singled home Justin Parr, who doubled to lead off the inning and crossed home plate for the third time. Roper relieved Johnson in the bottom of the ninth and gave up an RBI double before wrapping up the win.
Up Next: Illinois and SIU will play game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Abe Martin Field. Freshman Nick Blackburn will toe the rubber for the Illini against Cody Forsythe.