Third baseman Brandon Hohl was 1-for-2 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs in Illinois' 14-2 win over Illinois State.
March 30, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois used a seven-run fifth inning, solid pitching and flawless defense to hammer Illinois State 14-2 at Illinois Field on Wednesday, extending the Illini's winning streak to four games. It is the team's longest winning streak since March 19-24, 2010. Designated hitter Justin Parr went 3-for-4 and third baseman Brandon Hohl notched three RBIs, while five Illinois pitchers combined to limit the Redbirds to five hits.
"It's always nice to beat in-state rivals, but I'm more pleased that we're starting to get on a roll and win a number of games in a row heading into the conference season," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "I thought we played very well and pitched very well. Defensively, we were very good and we got some key hits with runners in scoring position. We just took good at bats all day."
Illinois improves to 8-10 on the season while ISU falls to 15-7. The Illini snap a two-game skid against the Redbirds and now have won four of the last six in the series. Illinois has out-scored ISU 59-20 in the last six games between the two teams.
The Illini struck first with a run in the second inning when first baseman Matt Dittman reached on an error to lead off the inning and Hohl walked. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson laid down a sacrifice bunt but Dittman was put out on a chopper to third off the bat of second baseman Thomas Lindauer. But Parr laced a single through the right side to bring home Hohl and put the Illini up 1-0.
Starting pitcher John Anderson ran into a bit of trouble in the third as ISU put runners on first and second after a leadoff infield hit, a sacrifice bunt and a walk. But Anderson induced an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to keep the Redbirds scoreless.
Illinois opened it up in the fifth, scoring seven runs on five hits. DH Justin Parr poked a leadoff single through the left side and center fielder Willie Argo punched a single back through the middle. Shortstop Josh Parr laid down a sacrifice fly and left fielder Casey McMurray was walked intentionally. Catcher Adam Davis singled up the middle, driving in Justin Parr, and Dittman ripped a single through the right side to bring in Argo. Hohl was hit by a pitch, forcing in McMurray, and Hendrickson reached when the first baseman pulled up on a two-hopper right to him, allowing two runs to score and Hendrickson to reach second with Hohl on third. Lindauer then ripped a double to left, bringing home both runs and putting the Illini up 8-0.
ISU got a run back in the sixth with a leadoff home run by third baseman Ryan Court, bringing the Redbirds within 8-1, but reliever Corey Kimes got out of a jam with runners on first and second with no outs by inducing a 4-6-3 double play and getting a spectacular diving catch by Hohl toward the third-base line to end the inning.
In the sixth, Josh Parr reached on an error by the shortstop before both McMurray and Davis were hit by pitches. Parr scored on a sacrifice fly foul-out by Dittman and Hohl laced a triple over the head of the center fielder to bring home two more runs and push the lead to 11-1.
Justin Parr beat out an infield hit with one out in the seventh but was put out on a grounder off Argo's bat. Argo beat out the relay on the attempted double play and moved to second on a wild pitch. Josh Parr then ripped a double to left-center to drive him home and put the Illini up 12-1.
The Redbirds put another run on the board on Court's second solo homer of the day, but reliever Chris Pack worked around a two-out walk by striking out the next hitter on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Illinois tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth when pinch hitter Ryan Arrick singled to center to start the frame and moved to second on a groundout. Pinch hitter Bill Charvat was hit by a pitch and pinch hitter Pat Sheehan walked. Pinch hitter Pete Cappette walked to force in Arrick and, one out later, Argo was hit by a pitch to drive in another run and push the lead to 14-2.
Closer Wes Braun came on to pitch the ninth and struck out the first two hitters he saw before he coaxed a fly-out to Sheehan in right field to end the game.
Justin Parr led the Illini offense with the first three-hit game of his Illini career, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Davis went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs, and Hohl drove in three while going 1-for-2 with a triple, two runs and a walk. Dittman was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run, and Lindauer was 1-for-4 with two RBIs. McMurray walked twice and scored twice, and Argo was 1-for-5 with an RBI and two runs.
Anderson pitched three scoreless innings, scattering two hits and two walks while striking out two. Will Strack pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out one, and Braun pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.
The Orange and Blue hit the road to open Big Ten play this weekend, facing Penn State in a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Friday's game will begin at 2:35 p.m. CT, Saturday's contest will start at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday's series finale will begin at 12:05 p.m. Friday's game will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com, the audio broadcast will be streamed live on FightingIllini.com through the All-Access player and it will be aired on tape-delay on WDWS 1400-AM after the Chicago Cubs' Opening Day game. Saturday's and Sunday's games will be aired live on WDWS and on FightingIllini.com.