Illini Stumble in Series Finale, Fall 4-2 to Iowa
April 11, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Illinois gave up three first-inning runs to Iowa in the series finale Sunday and the Hawkeyes kept the Illini off the board in the final seven innings as the Orange and Blue fell, 4-2, at Duane Banks Field. Redshirt-freshman Tom Shelton was 2-for-3 with an RBI in his first career start and right fielder Craig Lutes went 2-for-4 with a run as the Illini fell to 13-13 overall, 3-3 in the Big Ten.
"It's frustrating because we talked after Saturday's game about being ready to play in the first inning, then we go out and give up three runs right away today," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "And offensively, we weren't able to bunch any hits together and get to their bullpen."
Iowa took advantage of two walks and knocked four hits to push across three runs in the bottom of the first for a 3-0 lead. The Illini responded with two runs in the second when right fielder Craig Lutes led off the inning with a bloop base hit to right-center. Second baseman Pete Cappetta singled to right and DH Thomas Shelton doubled to the base of the wall in left-center to bring in Lutes. Shortstop Josh Parr was hit by a pitch and, one out later, first baseman Mike Giller hit a grounder to the third baseman that he booted, allowing Cappetta to scamper home and cut the Iowa lead to 3-2. But the Illini left the bases loaded as left fielder Casey McMurray flied out to right and catcher Aaron Johnson bounced out to second base.
After striking out the final hitter of the first inning, Illini starter Lee Zerrusen recovered from a rough first inning to retire 12 consecutive Hawkeye hitters into the fifth inning, when the string was broken by a four-pitch walk. But Zerrusen finished the inning by coaxing a liner to third baseman Brandon Hohl, who stabbed it at his shoelaces.
The Hawkeyes scored a run in the seventh after a leadoff single and an RBI double to the wall in center to extend their lead to 4-2. A flyout induced by reliever Corey Kimes moved the runner to third and closer Bryan Roberts coaxed a pop-up to Parr to get out of the inning.
Illinois couldn't muster any offense in the final two innings, going down in order in both the eighth and ninth to fall, 4-2.
Shelton was 2-for-3 with an RBI double and Lutes went 2-for-4 with a run. Cappetta collected Illinois' only other hit, going 1-for-4 with a run. Roberts pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out one and giving up one hit to increase his scoreless innings streak to 9 2/3 innings over seven appearances.
The Illini return to Illinois Field on Tuesday to host Eastern Illinois at 6:05 p.m. before traveling to Marion, Ill., to face Southern Illinois at Rent One Park on Wednesday. Illinois welcomes Michigan to Illinois Field next weekend for a Big Ten series.