Mike Stankiewicz tossed a four-hit shutout in Illinois' 2-0 win over Michigan State to cap a doubleheader sweep of the Spartans.
March 29, 2008
LANSING, Mich. - Illinois scored early and used a five-run fifth inning to top Michigan State, 9-5, in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, then got a stellar pitching performance from Mike Stankiewicz to defeat the Spartans, 2-0, in the nightcap in front of 1,017 fans at Oldsmobile Park. Stankiewicz tossed a four-hit shutout in game two and third baseman Dominic Altobelli went 5-for-8 with a double, two RBIs and two runs on the day to lead the Illini offense.
In the first game, Illinois got on the board first with a three-run first inning. Center fielder Kyle Hudson led off with a base hit up the middle and stole second. Hudson moved to third on second baseman Joe Bonadonna's infield hit then Bonadonna stole second. Shortstop Brandon Wikoff singled through the right side, driving home Hudson, and third baseman Dominic Altobelli walked to load the bases. First baseman Ryan Hastings drove home Bonadonna with a sacrifice fly and, after an out, catcher Chris Montgomery laced a hit-and-run single through the right side to plate Wikoff for a 3-0 lead.
Michigan State got a run back in the second after a lead-off single, a sacrifice and a double, but Illini starter Kevin Manson worked out of the inning with a groundout and by picking off the runner at third.
The Illini put up a five-spot in the fifth when Hudson and Bonadonna led off with consecutive walks. Wikoff grounded to shortstop, but the throw to start the double play was wide of the base, leaving the bases loaded for Altobelli, who ripped a double to center to score Hudson and Bonadonna. Hastings followed with a double down the left-field line that scored Wikoff and Altobelli, then, after an out, scored on Montgomery's base hit to left, pushing Illinois ahead, 8-1.
The Orange and Blue added a run in the sixth when Hudson led off with a triple to the wall in left and scored on Bonadonna's sacrifice fly, going up 9-1.
But MSU fought back with four runs in the seventh, with Manson being lifted after he hit the first batter of the inning and walked the second. Reliever Lee Zerrusen struggled, giving up a pair of hits, a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly as the Spartans got within 9-5. Closer Ben Reeser relieved Zerrusen and shut down the Spartans after that, recording eight outs in 22 pitches in a very efficient outing for his third save of the season.
In game two, the teams played four scoreless innings before the Illini managed a run in the fifth. With two outs, right fielder Nick Stockwell laced a single up the middle and moved to second when Hudson walked. Bonadonna followed with a base hit to center that drove in Stockwell to post Illinois to a 1-0 lead.
The Illini added an insurance run in the sixth when Altobelli led off with a single and moved to second on Hastings' groundout. Webb singled to move Altobelli to third then stole second. Montgomery then hit a two-hopper to the shortstop, but MSU's infield was drawn in and shortstop Jonathan Roof's off-balance throw to the plate wasn't in time as Illinois went ahead 2-0.
Stankiewicz continued to weave around the Spartans' bats for the most part, allowing a lead-off double in the sixth but coaxing a soft liner to Bonadonna and consecutive flyouts to end the inning. In the seventh, Stankiewicz gave up a one-out double before getting the final two hitters to ground out to Bonadonna to end the game.
Stankiewicz finished with his first complete-game effort since May 12, 2007, not allowing a run or a walk while surrendering five hits to MSU and needing just 73 pitches (10.4 pitches per inning). Incredibly, all four hits he allowed were doubles, but MSU was unable to capitalize on any of them
Offensively, Bonadonna was 3-for-6 on the day with a double, two RBIs and two runs, Montgomery and Hastings each drove in three runs and Hudson scored three times. Hudson also was 3-for-3 on the basepaths.
Up Next: Illinois and Michigan State wrap up the conference-opening series with a Sunday doubleheader starting at an adjusted time of 11:05 p.m. (CT). The teams will start with a seven-inning game before playing a nine-inning contest.