Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts notched his first win since May 1, 2010 after getting a key strikeout to force extra innings.
March 16, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - For the second-straight Saturday, Illinois earned an extra-innings victory behind excellent pitching from its bullpen. The Illini scored three runs in the top of the 10th and defeated Southern Illinois 7-5 at Abe Martin Field. Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts notched his first win since May 1, 2010 after getting a key strikeout to force extra innings.
Roberts made his first appearance of the season in a pressure situation with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 4-4. The Lisle, Ill., native came up with a huge strikeout on five pitches to send the game into extra innings, where the offense took over to produce the Illini's fifth consecutive win.
"Bryan showed a lot of composure in a tough situation and got the big strikeout," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "It's the first time he has been on the mound in a competitive situation in a long time, but he got the job done."
In the top of the 10th, the Illini loaded the bases after back-to-back singles by redshirt-junior Jordan Parr and sophomore David Kerian, a sacrifice bunt by junior Thomas Lindauer and an intentional walk to senior Brandon Hohl. Freshman Ryan Nagle then pinch-hit and brought home Jordan on a grounder to second that was mishandled by the Salukis. Nagle also knocked in the game-winning run a week ago in the 5-4 victory over Baylor in 11 innings.
"We have been fortunate to have guys come off the bench and put good swings on the ball," Hartleb said. "Ryan put the ball in play with the bases loaded and got us a big run."
Kerian and Lindauer both scored when freshman Adam Walton safety squeezed and the SIU pitcher bobbled the bunt before throwing the ball over the first baseman's head. With a three-run cushion, redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper picked up the save after getting two groundouts and a strikeout but allowing a home run in the bottom of the 10th. Roper has four saves in four chances, which is more than he had all of last season with three.
Illinois has won 11 of its last 12 games, marking the best stretch by an Illini team since 1998 when they won 13 of 14 from March 25-April 11. After starting the season 1-3, Illinois is now 12-4 and has had a six-game winning streak along with its current five-game streak.
Senior Justin Parr put the Illini on the board with a two-run triple down the right field line in the top of the third. Jordan Parr knocked in his twin brother with a liner into right center to make it 3-0. The Salukis responded in the bottom of the third, making it a one-run game after a two-run homer to left center. Illinois pitchers had only given up two runs over the previous 27 innings before allowing the home run.
SIU took its first lead of the series in the bottom of the fourth, jumping ahead 4-3 on a failed pickoff attempt and a sacrifice fly. Freshman Ryan Castellanos relieved freshman starter Nick Blackburn following the sac fly and got out of the inning with a groundout.
In the top of the fifth, Justin Parr led off the frame with a single and advanced to second on a sac bunt by his brother. After a pop out put two outs on the board, Justin stole third and sped home to tie the game 4-4 when the SIU catcher threw the ball into left field.
The Illini kept the Salukis scoreless over the next five innings thanks to solid work out of the bullpen. After entering in the fourth, Castellanos retired seven of the eight batters he faced before being replaced on the mound by freshman Tyler Jay in the seventh. Jay started with a strikeout but then walked the bases loaded and was pulled for redshirt-sophomore Drasen Johnson.
The Chillicothe, Ill., native induced a ground ball to third baseman Brandon Hohl, who stepped on the bag and threw to first for a double play that ended the threat in the seventh. Johnson kept the Salukis off the board in the eighth and got two outs in the ninth but left with the bases loaded for Roberts, who recorded the clutch strikeout.
"We got out of two bases-loaded jams today and the relievers did a great job," Hartleb said.
Illinois' 3-4-5 hitters combined for seven of its nine hits on the day. Justin Parr finished 3-for-6 with two runs and two RBI, Jordan Parr went 2-for-4 with an RBI and the game-winning run and Kerian was 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Up Next: The Illini and Salukis will play game three of the series in a different venue on Sunday, as they will head to Marion, Ill., to do battle at Rent One Park at 2 p.m. Freshman Kevin Duchene will take the hill against SIU's Derek Fogel.