Illinois Sweeps Saturday Doubleheader with Xavier

Sophomore Ryan Castellanos did not allow a walk for the third time in three starts this season while only allowing one run in 7.1 innings.
Sophomore Ryan Castellanos did not allow a walk for the third time in three starts this season while only allowing one run in 7.1 innings.

March 22, 2014

Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score | Photo Gallery 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - On a chilly Saturday at Illinois Field, Illinois (10-10) swept the doubleheader against Xavier (12-9) to get back to .500 on the season. The Illini never trailed and received quality starts in both games, with sophomore Ryan Castellanos pitching into the eighth in a 6-1 game one win followed by junior John Kravetz going eight innings in a 6-2 game two victory.

"I can't say enough about the starting pitching today," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Ryan Castellanos came out and gave us a great start in game one then John Kravetz did the same thing for us in the second game."

Offensively, sophomore shortstop Adam Walton went 5-for-5 with a pair of walks on the day, while junior outfielder Casey Fletcher hit his first career home run in the second game as part of a three-hit afternoon. Freshman Ryne Roper went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI in his game one start.

"The bottom of the order got the job done for us in the first game," Hartleb said. "In the second game, we hit up and down the lineup. Everyone contributed today and that is what it takes to be a good team. I was proud of our guys for scoring four innings in a row in that second game. It kind of took the wind out of their sails."

Game One Recap // Illinois 6, Xavier 1 | Printable Box Score
Castellanos did not allow a walk for the third time in three starts this season while only allowing one run in 7.1 innings. The Davie, Fla., native improved to 2-1 and received support from the Illini offense, which scored two runs in the second, fourth and seventh innings. The bottom four hitters in Illinois' lineup accounted for six of the nine hits, while Hurwitz went 3-for-4.

Illinois got on the board thanks to two-out hitting in the second. Fletcher doubled to left center and advanced to third on a passed ball. Ryne Roper drove him in with a single to center for the first of 12 runs on the afternoon. A passed ball and a balk moved Roper to third followed by a walk to Walton that placed runners on the corners. The Illini executed a double steal to take an early 2-0 lead.

In the fourth, the Orange and Blue again hit with two outs. Ryne Roper knocked in freshman Matthew James, who scored from first, with a double to left field. Walton connected on an RBI single to right field on the next pitch to put the Illini up 4-0.

After a Xavier pitching change in the seventh, UI tacked on two more runs. With the bases loaded, sophomore Ryan Nagle plated Walton on a fielder's choice. Goldstein brought home junior Will Krug with an RBI groundout to make it 6-0.

Castellanos cruised through the first seven innings, only allowing four hits, before running into trouble in the eighth. The Musketeers scored their only run on a one-out RBI single and loaded the bases with another single. Reid Roper moved from second base to the mound and escaped the jam with three pitches, inducing a fly out and pop out.

Junior Josh Ferry took over on the bump in the ninth and hit the first batter. Ferry finished the game with a fly out and a 4-6-3 double play.

Junior John Kravetz improved to 2-1 by matching a career-high eight innings in his start.

Game Two Recap // Illinois 6, Xavier 2 | Printable Box Score
Kravetz continued the solid pitching by scattering seven hits while matching a career-high with eight innings. He only allowed a run in the third and seventh and earned his second win. Illinois scored its six runs in four consecutive innings from the second to the fifth.

Fletcher started the scoring by knocking in Goldstein with a two-out RBI single in the second. The Illini made an out at the plate in the third but also got a run across on Nagle's RBI single that scored Krug. With two outs in the fourth, Fletcher belted a two-out home run over the right field wall, making it 3-1.

Illinois had its biggest inning of the day in the fifth, scoring three runs on four hits. Three consecutive two-out RBI singles by Nagle, Goldstein and Reid Roper increased the UI advantage to 6-1.

Sophomore Nick Blackburn relieved Kravetz and completed the sweep with a perfect ninth inning on 12 pitches.

Up Next: Illinois will play the series finale against Xavier on Sunday at noon at Illinois Field. Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell is scheduled to start against righty Eric Stiene.