Senior center fielder Willie Argo broke the school record for career stolen bases but Illinois fell to ISU, 16-7.
March 27, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illini jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but Illinois State posted 16 unanswered runs from the third inning to the seventh to pull away with a 16-7 victory at Duffy Bass Field on Tuesday. Center fielder Willie Argo broke Illinois' 30-year-old career stolen bases record with his 84th career steal in the first inning and right fielder Davis Hendrickson doubled twice and drove in two runs.
"We made some fundamental errors and didn't throw strikes tonight," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We did a good job of throwing quality strikes early in the season, so that's something that our pitchers need to get back to doing. And after about the third inning, there were some things that we didn't do very well offensively. We also need to do a better job of bouncing back when things don't go well."
The Illini jumped on top early with a five-run first inning, taking advantage of ISU starter Johnny Lieske's wildness. With one out, center fielder Willie Argo drew a walk and left fielder Justin Parr earned a four-pitch free pass. Argo then stole third on the second pitch to third baseman Brandon Hohl, breaking the Illinois career steals record with his 84th steal, a mark previously held by Todd Schmitke since 1983. Hohl then reached on an infield hit when the ISU second baseman wasn't able to make a play on his high chopper, allowing Argo to score. Second baseman Reid Roper ripped a base hit through the right side, driving in Parr, and first baseman Jordan Parr singled off the shortstop's glove to drive home Hohl. Hendrickson then laced a double down the left-field line, plating Roper and Jordan Parr, and giving the Illini a 5-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning, the Illini added two more runs in the third. Roper drew a leadoff walk and Jordan Parr ripped a base hit through the left side. After an out, catcher Kelly Norris-Jones was safe when the pitcher fielded his slow roller but couldn't make a play at any base, loading them up with Illini. DH Bill Charvat then ripped a double down the right-field line to drive home Roper and Parr, pushing the Illinois margin to 7-0.
ISU got a pair of runs back in the third after consecutive singles to start the frame, a pair of fly-outs and an error by Jordan Parr, cutting the Illini lead to 7-2. Things got rocky in the bottom of the fourth as Illini starter John Kravetz gave up four consecutive one-out singles before walking in a run. ISU second baseman Kevin Tokarski then ripped a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left for a grand slam, pushing the Redbirds ahead, 8-7. After a fly-out and another base hit, reliever Luke Joyce came on for Kravetz and walked a hitter, but that man was put out trying to advance to second on a ball that got away from Norris-Jones for the third out of the inning.
The Illini went down in order in the fifth and Joyce worked a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning. In the sixth, Argo knocked a one-out base hit back up the middle, but Justin Parr grounded into a double play to end the inning.
ISU added three runs in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff walk, a steal and a ground ball to shortstop Thomas Lindauer, who threw to Hohl at third attempting to put out the lead runner. But his throw pulled Hohl off the bag and both runners were safe. After another stolen base, Lindauer mishandled a grounder from Tokarski, allowing a run to score, and the Redbirds executed a double-steal that put runners on second and third. A base hit drove in a run and ended Joyce's outing as Drasen Johnson came on in relief. Johnson coaxed a weak groundout to Hohl, then induced a sacrifice fly to Argo in center that plated Tokarski with an unearned run. He then coaxed a fly-out to right field to end the inning as the Redbirds extended their lead to 11-7.
Illinois gave up five more runs in the seventh on four hits and three walks, as ISU extended its lead to 16-7. The Illini couldn't mount a late rally as the Redbirds took the victory.
In the game, Hendrickson led the Illini offensively, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Jordan Parr was 2-or-4 with an RBI and two runs, and Charvat went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
The Orange and Blue return to action on Wednesday when they travel to O'Brien Park in Peoria, Ill., to face Bradley at 6 p.m. Senior right-hander Nick Chmielewski will get the start for Illinois.