Top of Order Lifts Illini Over Devils, 12-4
March 31, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - After scoring 15 runs on Friday, the Fighting Illini kept the bats rolling on Saturday against Mississippi Valley State, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings - including a six-run second - to beat the Delta Devils 12-4 and win the weekend series in front of 887 fans. Shortstop Thomas Lindauer went 2-for-2 with three walks and the first five hitters in the Illini order combined to go 11-for-20 with nine RBIs and eight runs.
"We picked up where we left off yesterday," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We've been swinging the bats well for a few games. I was really pleased with some of our pitch selection today and I just thought we did a good job from the top of the lineup to the bottom. You look at Thomas Lindauer, and he goes 2-foro-2 with three walks, so he's on base all day, then we had multiple hits all the way through Jordan Parr. So it was a good day offensively, and I'm really pleased with the way we're driving the ball and starting to use the whole field."
As they did in game one of the series, MVSU scored a run in the top of the first, this time taking advantage of a leadoff hit batter, a sacrifice bunt, a walk and an RBI single. But Illini starter Josh Ferry kept his composure, inducing a pair of groundouts to limit the damage.
The Illini responded quickly, putting up a pair of runs in the bottom half. Lindauer led off with a double to left-center and center fielder Willie Argo drove him in with a base hit up the middle. Argo stole second and, one out later, moved to third on a groundout. First baseman Jordan Parr then lashed a triple to left-center, plating Argo and giving the Illini a 2-1 lead.
Ferry posted a quick second inning, retiring the Delta Devils in order, and the Illini went back to work. After two outs to start the inning, DH David Kerian drew a walk and stole second. Lindauer walked and Argo drove home Kerian and moved Lindauer to third with a base hit through the right side. Argo and Lindauer then executed a double-steal with Lindauer scoring on the play, and left fielder Justin Parr singled up the middle. Third baseman Brandon Hohl then singled through the left side, driving in Argo, and Jordan Parr doubled over the center fielder's head to plate two more runs. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson got into the act with an RBI double down the left-field line, pushing the Illini lead to 8-1.
Ferry stayed in a groove in the third, working around a one-out single by striking out the next two hitters. In the bottom half, MVSU changed pitchers, but it was more of the same for the Illinois offense. Catcher Kelly Norris-Jones singled through the left side and Kerian pulled a single through the right side. Lindauer then slashed a single to right-center, scoring Norris-Jones, and Argo lined a hot shot back up the middle that the pitcher knocked down but couldn't recover in time to make a play, giving Argo an infield hit and loading the bases. Justin Parr drove home Kerian with a sacrifice fly, making the margin 10-1.
MVSU got an unearned run in the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth to cut the margin to 10-4, but Illinois got back on track in the bottom of the sixth when Hohl ripped a single through the left side and stole second. He moved to third on Jordan Parr's fly-out to right field and scored on Hendrickson's sacrifice fly to left, making the lead 11-4.
Brian de la Torriente worked another scoreless frame in the seventh and the Illini tacked on another run in the bottom half. With one out, Kerian beat out a base hit to shortstop and Lindauer walked. Kerian moved to third on Argo's fly-out to center and scored on Justin Parr's base hit to left, pushing the lead to 12-4.
Matt Milroy came on the pitch the eighth and posted a scoreless frame despite a leadoff walk and a two-out free pass. Reid Roper relieved Milroy in the ninth and struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 final frame.
Offensively, Lindauer was 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI, two steals, three walks and two runs. Argo went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, two steals and two runs, while Jordan Parr went 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, three RBIs and a run. Justin Parr went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, and Kerian went 2-for-3 with a steal and three runs. Hendrickson also drove in two runs.
The Illini wrap up the three-game series with the Delta Devils Sunday at noon, with freshman right-hander John Kravetz getting the start for Illinois.