Illini Come Up Short in Series Opener at #16 Indiana, 3-2

Senior Kevin Johnson pitched eight quality innings, but suffered his second loss of the season.
Senior Kevin Johnson pitched eight quality innings, but suffered his second loss of the season.

April 5, 2013

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Senior Kevin Johnson retired 20 of the final 22 Indiana batters in his second-straight complete game, but gave up three runs in the first two innings, which the Illini couldn't overcome in a 3-2 loss to the No. 16 Hoosiers. Johnson allowed only four hits and two earned runs, which were both solo home runs in the second inning. Senior Justin Parr cut the deficit in half with an RBI double in the eighth, but the comeback bid fell short, as Illinois dropped to 18-8 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.

"It was a very good college baseball game, which is what I expected coming into this series," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Kevin did a very good job tonight, and we had the opportunities to get back in it, but couldn't come up with the big two-out hits. In tight games like this, you need to move leadoff runners, so we needed to take advantage of those but did not."

Indiana scored an unearned run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly that plated its leadoff-hitter Justin Cureton, who reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout to the right side. In the next inning, the Hoosiers took advantage of the wind blowing out to right field and sent two solo home runs over the 330-foot wall to jump ahead 3-0 after two innings.

Johnson, who did not allow a walk for the second-straight game, settled down after the two homers and pitched six scoreless innings to close out the game. He tossed four perfect frames and only let up a single in the fifth and one in the seventh while also striking out five. The Midlothian, Ill., native became the fifth Illini to record 200-plus strikeouts in his career and is No. 5 on the school's all-time list with 203 punch outs. With his eight quality innings, he also moved past Brett Weber (315.2) into second-place on Illinois' career innings pitched list with 322.2 and only trails the all-time leader Mark Dressen (328.2) by six innings.

The Illini got their first run in the third thanks to a sacrifice fly by sophomore Will Krug that brought home freshman Jason Goldstein, who led off the inning with his first career triple. They threatened in the fifth by putting runners on the corners with two outs, but went down looking to end the threat.

A leadoff single by junior Thomas Lindauer in the seventh inning bounced IU starter Joey DeNato from the game, but the Illini couldn't move him past second base, which he stole. Krug reached on a hit by pitch and stole second to start the eighth. After a strikeout, Justin Parr doubled down the left-field line and plated Krug to make it a one-run game. Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr sent a hard-hit liner to center but right at Cureton, and the rally ended with a line out to third by sophomore David Kerian.

In the top of the ninth, Illinois went down in order, as 16th-ranked Indiana won a school-record 17th consecutive game, which is the longest active streak in the NCAA and tied Mississippi State for the longest streak this season. The Hoosiers are now 24-3 overall and lead the Big Ten at 7-0 following their first-ever night game at sold-out Bart Kaufman Field, which opened in March.

The Illini out-hit the Hoosiers eight to four behind 2-for-4 performances from Lindauer and senior Brandon Hohl. Justin Parr also extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games with the RBI double in his final at-bat.

Up Next: Illinois will be back in action on Saturday at Bart Kaufman Field with game two of the series slated to begin at 1:05 p.m. CT. Sophomore John Kravetz will take the ball against Indiana's Kyle Hart.