Illini Drop 6-3 Tilt to Bradley
April 3, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini scored twice in the bottom of the ninth but a line drive to the left fielder ended the rally in a fitting way as Illinois dropped a 6-3 decision to Bradley on Tuesday on a night where the Orange and Blue seemed to hit balls hard right at Brave fielders. Second baseman Reid Roper notched his third multiple-hit game in the last four as he went 2-for-4 with an RBI double to lead the Illini, who fell to 15-11 on the year.
"I was disappointed that we didn't do some fundamental things that we work on every day," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "The difference today was that we did not execute in baseball situations. Runner on third, less than two outs and we don't put the ball in play. We made a base running error at second base. If I look back through my notes, there are things that we could've done to be two runs down going into the ninth inning, so we didn't do a good job in a lot of areas."
Illinois starter Nick Chmielewski was sharp early, retiring the Braves in order in the first on just eight pitches. In the bottom half, shortstop Thomas Lindauer reached on a fielding error by the second baseman and moved to second on center fielder Willie Argo's sacrifice bunt. But left fielder Justin Parr's line drive was right to the third baseman and Lindauer was caught stealing at third for the final out of the inning.
Bradley (14-11-1) had a pair of base runners in the second after a two-out base hit to right and a hit batter, but Chmielewski kept his composure and induced a groundout to third baseman Brandon Hohl, who tagged the base for the final out.
After a scoreless third inning, Bradley put a run on the board in the fourth with three consecutive base hits. Chmielewski walked a batter to load the bases but struck out the next hitter looking with an inside fastball to end the inning as the Braves took a 1-0 lead.
The Illini went down in order in the fourth and Bradley added a run in the fifth after a leadoff double and a pair of fly-outs that each moved the runner up a base for a 2-0 margin.
First baseman Jordan Parr broke up the no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive double to the gap in left-center field and scored on right fielder Davis Hendrickson's ringing single to right field to bring the Illini within 2-1. Hendrickson moved to second on DH Michael Hurwitz' groundout and catcher Kelly Norris-Jones singled up the middle, but Bradley shortstop Jason Leblebijian kept it on the infield with a sliding effort, preventing Hendrickson from scoring from second. Bradley starter Tory Doerr was able to induce a groundout from Roper to end the inning and strand a pair of runners, keeping the Braves in front by a 2-1 tally.
Bradley got the run back in the sixth when catcher Austin Jarvis hammered a 3-0 offering from Chmielewski over the fence in left for a one-out solo homer that made the score 3-1. In the bottom half, Lindauer reached on an infield hit to the hole on the left side and was awarded second on a balk. He moved to third on Argo's groundout to the second baseman, but he was stranded as Justin Parr struck out and Hohl lined out sharply to the center fielder.
The Braves added three in the seventh after a leadoff hit, a sacrifice bunt attempt that Hohl mishandled for an error and another sacrifice bunt. An intentional walk loaded the bases and one run scored on a balk and two more scored when Hendrickson made a diving attempt at a line drive in right-center but the ball went over his glove, pushing the margin to 6-1.
In the eighth, Bradley first baseman Derek Sprout led off with a ground-rule double to right-center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. It looked as if he would score on a sacrifice fly to left, but he was out on appeal at third for leaving the base early, resulting in an inning-ending double play.
The Illini threatened in the bottom half, as pinch hitter Thomas Shelton drew a leadoff walk and second baseman Reid Roper lined a single through the right side. But the right fielder threw behind Shelton as he rounded the bag too hard, retiring him for the first out. Lindauer drew another walk, but Brave center fielder Max Murphy tracked down a liner in the left-center gap off Argo's bat and snagged another to the right-center gap from Justin Parr for the final two outs of the inning.
In the ninth, Matt Milroy came on for Joyce and worked around a one-out walk and a stolen base by striking out a hitter and inducing an inning-ending groundout to Lindauer. The Illini mounted a rally in their last at bat, as Hohl led off the bottom of the ninth with a base hit up the middle and moved to second on a bad pickoff throw to first. After a pop-up, Hohl moved to third on Hendrickson's groundout and scored when new DH Bill Charvat ripped a double down the right-field line. Pinch hitter David Kerian walked and Roper doubled down the right-field line, driving home Charvat. Lindauer smoked the first pitch he saw after a mound visit, but it was right at the left fielder, who grabbed it to end the game with Bradley taking the 6-3 win.
Roper led the Illini, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Charvat was 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a run after pinch-hitting for Hurwitz in the seventh. Norris-Jones was 1-for-2 and Jordan Parr was 1-for-3 with a double and a run. Joyce and Milroy both worked scoreless innings of relief.
The Orange and Blue return to action on Friday when they welcome Indiana to Illinois Field for a three-game Big Ten series. The opener will begin at 6:05 p.m., with junior right-hander Kevin Johnson getting the start for the Illini and sophomore lefty Joey DeNato taking the ball for the Hoosiers.