Illinois Pummels Northwestern in Evanston, 13-0

Starter Drasen Johnson equaled a career-high 10 strikeouts over seven shutout innings.
Starter Drasen Johnson equaled a career-high 10 strikeouts over seven shutout innings.

April 4, 2014

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Illinois dominated the series opener 13-0 over Northwestern on Friday behind a strong start from redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson, who matched a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven shutout innings. The Illini drew a season-high 12 walks and capitalized on five NU errors on their way to their second-highest offensive output this season. The Orange and Blue have won seven of their last eight games and improved to 15-11 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten.

"Drasen threw very well and got stronger as the game went on," associate head coach Eric Snider said. "We took advantage of their mistakes and got the hits when we needed them. It's important to have this momentum going right now, but we have to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Johnson, who was only receiving a 2.1 run support average entering the game, got eight runs off support in the first six innings of his quality start. The Chillicothe, Ill., native only allowed four hits and one walk while throwing 98 pitches. He improved to 3-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.74. The Illini pitching staff dropped its team ERA below three for the first time this season at 2.95.

Illinois scored in the first inning for the eighth time this season, as they capitalized on a pair of throwing errors by the Northwestern third baseman. Junior Michael Hurwitz reached on the miscue and advanced to second for a two-base error. Junior David Kerian moved him to third on the second error before sophomore Jason Goldstein brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

After going scoreless in the second and third, the Illini added two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Freshman Pat McInerney drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Kerian and freshman Ryne Roper plated Goldstein on a fielder's choice in the fourth.

Kerian knocked in junior Will Krug, who went 3-for-6 on the day, with an RBI single in the fifth. Hurwitz, who scored three times with three walks, stole home for the second run in the inning. McInerney singled home Goldstein to make it 6-0.

Sophomore Adam Walton walked and advanced to second on the third NU error before stealing third and scoring on the fourth error by the Wildcats. Goldstein notched his second sacrifice fly of the day for the second run in the sixth.

Three more runs crossed the plate in the eighth. Walton extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-out, two run single to right field that plated McInerney and pinch-runner Chase Hainline. Ryne Roper scored on the fifth Northwestern error, a dropped fly ball in right field, meaning eight of Illinois' nine starters scored a run.

Redshirt-junior Kelly Norris-Jones smacked Illinois' first extra-base hit with a double to leadoff the ninth. Redshirt-junior Reid Roper connected on his career-high and team-leading fourth home run to complete the scoring for the day and make it 13-0.

Redshirt-sophomore Charlie Naso retired all six batters he faced and recorded a career-high four strikeouts during the eighth and ninth inning to cap off the third shutout this season. Northwestern played its first home game at Rocky Miller Park and dropped to 4-20 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten.

Up Next: Illinois will return to action on Saturday for game two of the series at 1 p.m. Sophomore Ryan Castellanos will start against lefty Reed Mason.