Illini Blast Nebraska 11-3 to Open Big Ten Slate
March 23, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska celebrated its first ever Big Ten contest with fireworks after the game. Most of the fireworks during the game came from the visitors, however, as defending Big Ten champion Illinois pounded out 15 hits in an 11-3 victory in front of 5,210 fans at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park.
"We were very aggressive not only on the bases, but also at the plate, especially with good pitches up in the zone," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "When you play complete games like that you have a chance to come out on top."
Illini junior Justin Parr was 2-for-5 with four RBI with the big blow a three-run base clearing double to right center with two outs in the sixth. That highlighted a four-run inning and gave Illinois a 7-1 lead. Sophomore Jordan Parr also had a big night, going 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI. His two-run single highlighted a four-run ninth to put the game away.
That was more than enough for starter Kevin Johnson (4-1), who posted his fourthstraight victory. The junior scattered nine hits in 7-plus innings of work,giving up just three runs in a quality start.
"I thought Kevin Johnson was outstanding," Hartleb said. "He settled down as the game went on. He started throwing a lot of pitches for strikes, getting ahead and letting his defense work. I was really pleased that after the second inning he started throwing in the bottom of the zone, getting a lot of movement with his fastball and inducing a lot of ground balls."
The Illini set the tone early with three straight hits to start the game, two of whichcame on first pitches up in the zone. Justin Parr drove home Thomas Lindauer with a single up the middle for the game's first run. Illinois sprayed the ball to all fields with three extra base hits and two infield singles. Second baseman Reid Roper also kept the first alive by hustling down the line and reaching base on a hurried throw in the dirt by the Husker second baseman.
Twice Illini executed ground balls to right side with one out and a runner at third to drive in runs. Brandon Hohl plated Wille Argo with a ground out to second in the third inning, making it 3-1 Illini.
Illinois finally drove Nebraska starter Tom Lemke from the game in the sixth. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson (3 for 5, RBI, run scored) delivered the second of his two doubles to get the rally started, turning on a pitch down the rightfield line. Kelly Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch and Bill Chavaet singled to the gap in left-center to load the bases with one out. Lindauer beat out aninfield single to make it 4-1 before one out later Justin Parr delivered the game's biggest blow.
Illinois wins for the seventh time in nine games to improve to 11-7. Nebraska drops to 15-9 overall.
"Our offense did a great job from the first inning, setting the tone," Hartleb said. "It was a hostile crowd tonight at great venue. I thought our guys really handled it well."