Johnson Dominates Grizzlies in Complete-Game Shutout

Senior Kevin Johnson notched his third career complete-game shutout in the 4-0 victory over Oakland on Friday night.
Senior Kevin Johnson notched his third career complete-game shutout in the 4-0 victory over Oakland on Friday night.

March 29, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Senior Kevin Johnson needed just 79 pitches to earn his third career complete-game shutout in Illinois' 4-0 victory over Oakland on Friday night. The Midlothian, Ill., native only allowed three hits and worked quickly in the series opener, dispatching the Golden Grizzlies in one hour and 43 minutes, the Illini's shortest game this season. The Orange and Blue scored three runs in the first inning, including senior Justin Parr's first home run of the year, and improved to 15-6 overall.

"It was a great performance by Kevin tonight," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "He really pounded the zone and got a lot of early swings. He had a bit of downward life on his fastball with a little bit of run at the end. He got a lot of ground ball outs, and Thomas Lindauer was excellent at shortstop, so that combination led to a very good day for us."

Johnson was perfect through five innings after retiring the first 15 batters, but gave up a leadoff single to start the sixth. He also allowed a single in the eighth and one in the ninth, but notched a 1-6-3 double play and a strikeout to end the game. He threw fewer than 10 pitches in six different innings and never threw more than 14 pitches in one inning (pitches by inning: 8-9-6-11-6-5-11-9-14).

An Illini season-high nine groundouts went to the glove of shortstop Thomas Lindauer, while Johnson totaled 20 groundouts, three flyouts and three strikeouts on his way to a team-best fourth victory. He is now 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA after seven starts this season.

"Thomas Lindauer made some unbelievable plays behind me," Johnson said. "Our fielding was great all day, and our hitting did what we needed to do to get the win. That is probably the fewest pitches I have thrown for a complete game since before high school. I was really pleased with my performance."

Illinois' last complete-game shutout also came with Johnson on the mound when he shut down Northwestern in a 2-0 win last season on April 27. His first CG shutout occurred during his freshman season on May 15, 2010 in a 7-0 win over Purdue.

After joining the 300 innings-pitched club last week, Johnson inched closer to second place on the all-time list. He is now at 314.2 IP, which is one inning behind Brett Weber (315.2) and 14 back of the school's all-time leader Mark Dressen (328.2). He also moved up to fifth place in school history with 198 career strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first, Justin Parr put the Illini on the board with his first home run of the season, scoring sophomore Michael Hurwitz on a two-run bomb over the right-field wall. Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr doubled and advanced to third on an infield single by sophomore David Kerian. Jordan Parr scored when Kerian stole second and the throw got away from the Grizzlies, giving Illinois a 3-0 lead after one.

"Justin got a ball up in the zone and put a very good swing on it," Hartleb said. "We got a big first inning, and the game kind of settled down after that. It was a good start to the weekend and a good team win."

Lindauer singled home Kerian in the bottom of the third which increased it to a 4-0 margin and wrapped up the scoring for the night. Kerian collected three of Illinois' nine hits and is currently on a career-best seven-game hitting streak, while Justin Parr turned in his team-best 10th multi-hit game with a pair of hits. Senior Brandon Hohl also tallied a hit for the sixth-straight game, while Hurwitz hit in his fifth consecutive one.

Up Next: Illinois will play a doubleheader against Oakland on Saturday beginning at noon. Freshman Kevin Duchene will take the ball in game one, while sophomore John Kravetz will toe the rubber in game two at Illinois Field.