Freshman starter Bryan Roberts struck out eight in seven innings, scattering six hits and walking one to pick up his second career win in No. 25 Illinois' 6-0 win over Central Connecticut State.
March 24, 2009
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Bryan Roberts tossed seven scoreless innings, struck out a career-high eight hitters and led Illinois (13-5) to a 6-0 shutout victory over Central Connecticut State (7-4). Roberts scattered six hits and walked only one to pick up his second career victory. Right fielder Nick Stockwell went 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI, while left fielder Casey McMurray also drove in three and finished the day 2-for-4.
"I was pleased today with the way we handled the adversity from the weekend," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We came out and got great pitching from Bryan Roberts, who was very, very good today. And we also got some good offensive performances from different spots in the lineup."
The contest was scoreless until the fourth when the Illini put a crooked number up on the board. Stockwell led off the inning with a single up the middle, second baseman Josh Parr walked and center fielder Joe Bonadonna bunted for a base hit down the third base line to load the bases. McMurray then stepped to the plate and gave Illinois a 3-0 advantage with a bases-clearing triple to the gap in right center.
With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the fourth, Roberts induced a lineout to center and escaped the inning when Bonadonna relayed it to Parr, who doubled up the runner at first.
The Illini tacked on two runs in the fifth to make it 5-0. Third baseman Dominic Altobelli and catcher Aaron Johnson both singled to begin the inning and advanced into scoring position on a double steal. One out later, Stockwell worked the count full and knocked in both runners with a single to right.
Roberts flew threw the fifth, setting down the Blue Devils in order on just eight pitches. In the sixth, the freshman starter gave up a leadoff single but then retired the next three CCSU hitters. With two outs and runners on second and third in the seventh, Roberts struck out the Blue Devil center fielder to end his impressive performance.
Wes Braun came on in relief in the eighth and got one out before walking consecutive hitters and being replaced by Aaron Martin. Martin picked up his teammate and ended the threat by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
Illinois tacked on an insurance run in the ninth and took a 6-0 lead on Stockwell's RBI double to left that gave the Illini right fielder three RBIs on the day. Nick Chmielewski shut down the Blue Devils in the ninth to complete the shutout.
McMurray and Wikoff used back-to-back singles in the first to extend their hitting streaks to 16 and 12 games, respectively. Altobelli recorded his fourth multiple-hit game on Spring Trip, going 2-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base, while Bonadonna, Wikoff, Johnson, Lutes and Parr all recorded a hit.
On the trip, Illinois' starting pitchers combined for 23 innings and just three earned runs over the final four games of the Spring Trip, including 13 combined innings with no earned runs by Roberts and Ben Reeser. Offensively, Wikoff hit .545 (12-for-22) with two doubles, two steals and seven runs, while Alotbelli hit .500 (11-for-22) with seven RBIs, three doubles, a home run and eight runs. As a team, the Illini hit .337 and averaged 6.8 runs per game.
Up Next: Illinois returns home for its Big Ten opener, a weekend series against Michigan State at Illinois Field. The series begins with a 6:05 p.m. first pitch on Friday.