Illini Even Series with 7-3 Win Over Indiana
April 7, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Indiana started the game with a home run and scored twice in the top of the first, but Illinois posted four in the third inning and held on for a 7-3 victory to even the Big Ten series in front of a season-high 1,386 fans at Illinois Field on Saturday. Starting pitcher John Kravetz overcame the early trouble to hold the Hoosiers to only three runs in 7 1/3 innings and Ronnie Muck recorded the final five outs for Illinois' first save of the season.
"The thing I was really, really pleased about was that John (Kravetz) has had a couple innings where that has happened in the past and he's let them snowball and all of a sudden, it's four, five, six, seven runs," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "But today it was a two-run inning and things didn't go well for him, but he didn't panic and kept throwing good pitches. He ended up getting out of it with two runs, and he settled in and gave us a great game. So he's made another step. That's not an easy part of maturing, but he did a great job."
Indiana jumped on top with a pair of runs in the top of the first. Center fielder Justin Cureton blasted a leadoff home run, then catcher Kyle Schwarber doubled to right. A passed ball allowed him to move to third and, one out later, he scored on a bloop single into shallow right. Illini starter John Kravetz bore down, though, inducing a weak fly-out to right and a groundout to shortstop to get out of the inning with the Hoosiers holding a 2-0 lead.
Illinois looked to mount a rally in the bottom half as center fielder Willie Argo walked but was put out on left fielder Justin Parr's sharp grounder up the middle that the second baseman handled. Third baseman Brandon Hohl singled to right-center and first baseman Jordan Parr reached on an error by the third baseman. But right fielder Davis Hendrickson struck out to leave the bases loaded and keep the Illini scoreless.
Kravetz worked around a leadoff single in the third by coaxing a line-out to left and an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the Hoosiers off the board. In the bottom half, shortstop Thomas Lindauer led off with a sharp single to center and Argo executed a hit-and-run perfectly, moving Lindauer to third with a base hit through the right side. Parr then lined another single through the right side, driving home Lindauer and moving Argo to third, and Hohl ripped a base hit to right-center. On the play, Hoosier left fielder Chris Sujka misplayed the ball, allowing it to roll to the fence, and permitting Parr to score from first. Hohl ended up on second on the error and moved to third when Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber's attempted pickoff throw to second bounced into center field. Hohl scampered home on first baseman Jordan Parr's groundout, pushing the Illini ahead, 4-2.
The Illini starter found a groove in the fourth, retiring the Hoosiers in order, then pitched around a one-out single in the fifth by coaxing a pair of fly-outs to end the frame. Kravetz hit a batter with two outs in the sixth and the runner advanced to second on a balk, but Kravetz struck out Hoosier pinch hitter Dillon Dooney for the third out of the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, catcher Kelly Norris-Jones laced a one-out single to right-center and moved to second on DH Will Krug's sacrifice bunt. Lindauer then ripped a single down the left-field line and Norris-Jones slid in just ahead of the tag at the plate. After a pitching change, Lindauer got a great jump on the 0-2 pitch to Argo, who chopped it to the hole on the right side. The first baseman made a diving play, but Argo beat the flip to the pitcher at the bag on a bang-bang play, allowing Lindauer to race home and score from second on the infield single, pushing the Illini lead to 6-2.
Kravetz allowed a one-out single in the seventh but erased the runner by inducing a 3-6-1 double play that drew a cheer from the Illini dugout and the season-high crowd. In the bottom half, Hendrickson knocked a two-out single to left and stole second. He moved to third when Hoosier pitcher Jonny Hoffman's pickoff attempt skipped into center field and scored on second baseman Reid Roper's triple to the wall in center field, extending Illinois' lead to 7-2.
In the eighth, Kravetz gave up a leadoff hit and a walk before inducing a grounder to Lindauer, who flipped to Roper for the out at second. A wild pitch allowed a run to score and Kravetz walked the next hitter on four pitches. Hartleb brought in Muck to relieve Kravetz, and he induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch he threw to squelch the Hoosier threat and keep the lead at 7-3.
The Illini went down in order in the eighth and Muck gave up a leadoff double to Dooney in the ninth. But he kept his composure and induced a pair of groundouts to Lindauer, then gloved a high comebacker to the first-base side of the mound before flipping it to Jordan Parr for the game's final out.
Lindauer keyed a top half of the order that combined to go 8-for-16 by going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. Argo, Justin Parr and Hohl, each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, and Roper was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.
On the mound, Kravetz rebounded from the rocky first inning to allow only three runs on eight hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings while striking out four. Muck gave up only one hit in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to record Illinois' first save on the season.
The Illini and Hoosiers return to the field on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. for the rubber match of the series. Illinois will send freshman right-hander Josh Ferry to the mound, while Indiana has not named a starter.