Illini center fielder Willie Argo tied Andy Schutzenhofer as the fastest Illini to reach 100 hits with his two hits against Eastern Illinois on Tuesday.
April 13, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Sophomore center fielder Willie Argo went 2-for-3, tying former Illini Andy Schutzenhofer as the fastest Illinois player to 100 hits in only 269 at bats, and stole four bases to tie the Illini single-game steals record, as the Orange and Blue blasted Eastern Illinois 10-1 at Illinois Field Tuesday. Starting pitcher Kevin Manson pitched three scoreless innings, throwing 20 strikes in 21 pitches, to get the win.
"I was impressed with Manson today," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We scored some runs for him and he put up zeroes on the scoreboard. We're trying to be more consistent across the board and tonight was a step in the right direction."
After Manson retired the Panthers on nine consecutive strikes in the top of the first, the Illini jumped on top with two runs in the bottom half. Argo singled up the middle and stole second, then moved to third on first baseman Mike Giller's single through the left side. Giller stole second and left fielder Casey McMurray drove in Argo with a groundout to second. DH Aaron Johnson then brought home Giller with a groundout to shortstop to put the Illini up 2-0.
After a five-pitch second inning by Manson, all of which were strikes, the Illini went back to work in the bottom of the second. With two outs, catcher Adam Davis singled up the middle and stole second. Shortstop Josh Parr ripped a double to left-center to drive in Davis, and Argo doubled home Parr to put the Illini up 4-0. The hit was Argo's 100th career hit in only 269 at bats, tying Andy Schutzenhofer as the fastest Illini to 100 hits.
EIU fought back with a run in the fifth after a leadoff double, a groundout and an RBI single, cutting Illinois' lead to 4-1. But the Illini responded with consecutive three-run innings in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Argo led off by walking and stealing second, then moved to third on Giller's groundout. After a pitching change, McMurray walked, and he and Argo executed a double-steal to score a run. Johnson then blasted a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field for a two-run home run, pushing the Illini lead to 7-1.
Reliever Brian de la Torriente gave up a leadoff hit before inducing a foul-out to third baseman Brandon Hohl. He allowed another single and struck out the next batter before striking out a hitter for the second out. But he walked the bases loaded before coaxing another pop-out to Hohl to retire the side.
The Illini bats kept rolling in the bottom of the sixth as Parr beat out an infield hit with two outs and stole second before moving to third on a wild throw by the catcher. Argo reached when the pitcher couldn't handle his bouncer back to the mound and stole second, his fourth steal of the game, tying Shawn Roof, Bob Polock and Robert Wahl for the Illinois single-game steals record. Giller walked and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch before left fielder Davis Hendrickson reached when the shortstop wasn't able to squeeze his soft liner, allowing both runs to score to put the Illini up 10-1.
Will Strack came on to pitch the seventh and struck out the first two hitters he saw before giving up a walk. But he coaxed a grounder to second base to end the inning. John Anderson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing a single to the first hitter he saw before inducing a pair of line-outs to left field and a fly out to center. Tanner Libby got a groundout from the first hitter he faced before allowing a walk and a single. But he struck out the final two hitters of the game to finish off Illinois' 10-1 win.
Argo went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, three runs and four steals and Parr went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a steal and two runs. Johnson was 1-for-3 with a homer run and three RBIs, and McMurray drew a pair of walks, drove in a run and scored a run.
Manson pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while striking out a hitter in his 21 pitches. Strack struck out two in his scoreless seventh inning and Anderson allowed only a hit in the eighth. Libby fanned two in the ninth inning, keeping EIU scoreless despite giving up a single and a walk.
The Fighting Illini travel to Rent One Park, home of the Frontier League's Southern Illinois Miners, in Marion, Ill., on Wednesday to face Southern Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Freshman Matt Milroy will start the game for Illinois.