Mike Rohde went 3-for-5 with three doubles, six RBI and two runs to lead Illinois to a 20-10 run.
March 19, 2007
BRADENTON, Fla. - Illinois won consecutive games for the first time in 2007, pounding Dartmouth 20-10 at the IMG Academies. It was the first time since May 6, 2005, that the Illini had scored 20 or more runs in a game, as three Illinois hitters homered, five had multiple hits and first baseman Mike Rohde knocked three doubles, the first time an Illini hitter had done so since Craig Marquie accomplished the feat in 1998.
"Once we got runners on base, we did a good job of driving balls and getting extra-base hits," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "We didn't panic when we got down early, and we continued to tack on runs the entire game."
Starter Mike Stankiewicz's outing began on a rough note as he walked the first two batters, allowed a single to load the bases and walked in a run. After an RBI single and a double play that scored a run, the Big Green scored another run when centerfielder Kyle Hudson misplayed a fly ball before Stankiewicz got out of the inning with a groundout, leaving Dartmouth up 4-0 after a half-inning. Illinois got a run back in the third when second baseman Ryan Hastings drove a 1-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his first home run of the season, cutting the margin to 4-1, but Dartmouth added a run in the fourth on a double and two singles, pushing its lead to 5-1.
The bottom of the fourth belonged to the Illini as catcher Lars Davis drew a lead-off walk and rightfielder Daniel Webb drew another. Rohde proceeded to tag the first pitch he saw into the right-center gap for a stand-up two-run double. After shortstop Shawn Roof sacrificed Rohde to third, freshman DH Craig Lutes smashed his second home run in as many days, ripping a 2-1 offering over the right-field fence to tie the game 5-5. Hastings kept the inning going with a walk, then, one out later, Snowden, Wikoff, Davis and Webb drew consecutive walks, with Davis' and Webb's being their second free passes of the inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rohde lifted a fly ball to center that the centerfielder drifted toward but misjudged for a three-run double to put Illinois ahead, 10-5.
Dartmouth started chipping away immediately in the fifth, putting a double and a single back-to-back to recover one run and cut the lead to 10-6. In the sixth, Illinois extended it lead when Snowden knocked a double and, one out later, Davis smashed a first-pitch curveball for a line-drive, two-run homer to right, his second of the year. Webb followed with a stand-up triple down the right-field line and scored on Rohde's sacrifice fly. Roof and Lutes then strung together consecutive doubles for a 14-6 lead.
The Green came back with a four-run eighth inning on four hits, two hit batsmen and a walk to cut the lead to 14-10, but the Illini rebounded with six runs of their own in the frame. Rohde led off with a line-drive double to the wall in right-center and scored on a base hit by Dominic Altobelli, who replaced Roof in the field earlier in the inning. Pinch-hitter Aaron Ifft was hit by a pitch and Hastings singled to load the bases. Hudson drove in Altobelli with a base hit to center that re-loaded the bases, and Joe Bonadonna, who came in to play left in the top of the frame, drew an RBI walk. Wikoff drove in Hastings with a sacrifice fly and new catcher Joe Mercurio drove in Hudson from second with a single to left. Nick Stockwell, who entered in right field earlier in the inning, laced a single to left that scored Bonadonna and gave Illinois a 20-10 advantage.
Reliever Brian Long posted a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to finish the game. In all, Long pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts while allowing two hits.
"This definitely puts us in a pretty good frame of mind going into the off-day," Hartleb said. "Winning is a learned process and hopefully we're starting to learn what it takes to win."
Offensively, Rohde went 3-for-5 with three doubles, six RBI - the most RBI by an Illini since Chris Robinson had seven against Eastern Illinois on April 26, 2005 - and two runs, Lutes was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and Davis went 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and three runs. Hastings went 2-for-4 with a homer, a steal and three runs, and Hudson was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
Up Next: The Illini have Tuesday off before facing Massachusetts on Wednesday at 9 a.m. (CT).