Illini Drop Pitchers' Duel to #18 Purdue, 3-0

Reid Roper doubled and went 2-for-3, but the Illini couldn't knock him in as they fell to No. 18 Purdue, 3-0.
Reid Roper doubled and went 2-for-3, but the Illini couldn't knock him in as they fell to No. 18 Purdue, 3-0.

April 13, 2012

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Illinois' leadoff man reached base in each of the last three innings but the Illini left two of them in scoring position as No. 18 Purdue notched a 3-0 victory on Friday at Lambert Field. Kevin Johnson allowed only eight hits in an 81-pitch complete-game loss and second baseman Reid Roper went 2-for-3 with a double.

"That was just a very good college baseball game," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "The difference was that they came up with some key hits in clutch situations and we didn't. It was disappointing that we had a runner on second with no outs twice and weren't able to get a run home. Kevin Johnson was very good, especially for the first seven innings, and we played well defensively. We talked a lot about manufacturing runs in practice yesterday, but we weren't able to do that today, and it cost us."

Purdue got a run in the bottom of the first after a leadoff single up the middle by Tyler Spillner and a one-out double down the left-field line by Cameron Perkins. But Illini starter Kevin Johnson stayed cool and retired the next two hitters to limit the Boilers to a 1-0 lead.

After a quick second inning, Illinois put together a pair of two-out singles in the third to break up Purdue starter Joe Haase's perfect outing. But center fielder Willie Argo was out by a step on a grounder up the middle to end the threat. In the bottom half, Johnson gave up a leadoff single but erased the runner on a nifty 4-6-3 double play despite the runner being in motion. He then induced another grounder to second baseman Reid Roper to retire the side.

The Illini went down in order in the fourth and Johnson gave up a leadoff hit to Perkins in the bottom half. He moved to second on a passed ball but was put out at third on catcher Kevin Plawecki's grounder to shortstop Thomas Lindauer. Lindauer then started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Haase continued to roll in the fifth, posting another 1-2-3 inning. Johnson retired the first two hitters he faced in the bottom of the inning before surrendering a single to DH Andrew Dixon. Dixon stole second but Johnson coaxed a line-out to Justin Parr in left for the third out.

In the sixth, Argo beat out an infield hit with two outs and Justin Parr crushed a 1-0 pitch from Haase, but the gusty wind coming over the right-field fence knocked it down and right fielder Barrett Serrato hauled it in two steps in front of the wall for the final out. Johnson kept things rolling in the bottom half, retiring the Boilers in order with an eight-pitch inning, to keep the score 1-0 in favor of Purdue.

The Illini threatened in the seventh when third baseman Brandon Hohl was hit by a pitch to start the frame and first baseman Jordan Parr singled to right. But right fielder Davis Hendrickson popped out to second base after showing bunt, DH Bill Charvat struck out and catcher Kelly Norris-Jones grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning and strand the runners.

Roper double to right-center to lead off the top of the eighth, but the Illini couldn't get him home as Lindauer lined out to right, Argo grounded out to shortstop, moving Roper to third, and, after a pitching change to bring in left-hander Blake Mascarello, Justin Parr grounded out to second base to end the inning with Purdue clinging to a 1-0 lead.

The Boilers started the bottom of the eighth with a double as well, as shortstop David Miller lined a two-base hit down the right-field line. Dixon sacrificed him to third with a two-strike bunt, but Johnson retired left fielder Stephen Talbott on a shallow fly-out to left. An inside fastball to center fielder Tyler Spillner caught too much of the plate, though, and Spillner doubled down the right-field line, driving home Miller. Second baseman Eric Charles singled to left, plating Spillner to push the margin to 3-0, but Johnson ended the inning by inducing a grounder up the middle that Lindauer fielded and threw to Parr for the third out.

Purdue brought in closer Nick Wittgren to face the heart of the Illini order in the ninth and Hohl drew a leadoff walk. But Jordan Parr flew out to deep center field and Hendrickson was ruled out at first on the back end of a game-ending double play as the Boilers took a 3-0 win.

Roper went 2-for-3 with a double and Hohl reached base twice on a walk and a hit by pitch. Johnson tossed an 81-pitch complete game, allowing three runs on eight hits over eight innings. He struck out one and didn't allow a walk, the second time in his career that he hasn't given up a walk in a start lasting more than five innings.

The Illini and Boilers return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT in game two of the series. Illinois will send freshman right-hander John Kravetz to the hill against Purdue senior right-hander Lance Breedlove.