Roper's Game-Winning Homer Topples Purdue, 6-4

Reid Roper hit a game-winning 2-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Illinois' 6-4 win over Purdue.
Reid Roper hit a game-winning 2-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Illinois' 6-4 win over Purdue.

April 13, 2013

Box Score | Printable Box Score | Hartleb Interview | Roper Interview | Kerian Interview

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore David Kerian tied the game with an RBI single to left, and two pitches later, redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper belted the game-winning home run to right field. Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts secured Illinois' 6-4 victory over Purdue with a perfect ninth, notching his third save and 12th scoreless inning of relief this season. Freshman Kevin Duchene tossed 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and improved to 5-1 on the year.

"I am really happy for Reid," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "I can't say enough about what he did today when they brought in a left-hander, and he still gets the big home run. What I don't want to get lost in the shuffle is the big hit by David Kerian that tied the game up and extended the inning for Reid to hit the game-winning home run."

With their ninth comeback win of the season, the Illini boosted their overall record to 21-10 and got back to .500 in the Big Ten at 4-4. They secured their first Big Ten series win after going 1-2 against both Nebraska and Indiana, which are currently tied for first in the conference at 8-3.

Senior Justin Parr began the eighth inning by extending his career-high hitting streak to 19 games with a leadoff single, which came in his final at-bat for the second-straight day. Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr hit a grounder to third and legged out the fielder's choice to prevent the double play. He then stole second and advanced to third on the fly out to center by senior Brandon Hohl. Kerian singled on a 1-1 pitch to tie it up and force a Purdue pitching change. The left-handed Roper followed it up with a no-doubter over the right-field wall on a 1-0 pitch from left-hander Tim McElroy.

"We are finding ways to get runs across in crucial situations and that is what this game is all about," Hartleb said. "The game was tight, and the bottom of our order came up with big hits."

Before homering in Friday's game, Roper hadn't homered since his first game as an Illini on Feb. 17, 2012. With the game-winner on Saturday, he hit a home run for the second-straight day, marking his third career bomb. After going 0-for-14 in the past four games before this series, the Harrisburg, Ill., native is 4-for-9 with two home runs, four runs and four RBI in the first two games of the Purdue series.

"Reid has given us a lot these past two days," Hartleb said. "He has really scuffled over the past couple weeks, but has continued to work hard and always has a great attitude."

Purdue jumped ahead 2-0 at Illinois Field with a run in each of the first two innings on an RBI double and RBI single, respectively. Illinois came back with three runs in the third on a two-run double by freshman Jason Goldstein and a sacrifice fly by junior Thomas Lindauer to go up 3-2. The Boilermakers evened it up at three apiece with an unearned run in the fourth.

After a scoreless fifth by both teams, Purdue retook the lead, 4-3, on a two-out RBI double. Freshman Kevin Duchene relieved Illini starter John Kravetz, who received his fourth no decision after allowing six hits and three earned runs over 5.2 innings. Duchene only gave up one hit and one walk over 2.1 solid innings. He tied the fourth-most wins ever by an Illini freshman with his fifth victory.

Seven of Illinois' 10 hits came from the bottom four hitters in the batting order. Kerian, Roper and senior Davis Hendrickson each finished 2-for-4, while Goldstein extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 1-for-3. The Parr brothers accounted for the other three hits, as Jordan went 2-for-4 and Justin was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Up Next: Illinois will go for the sweep of Purdue on Sunday at 2:05 p.m., which will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. Freshman Ryan Castellanos will make his second career start and face Purdue's Brad Schreiber. The fifth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue will be held during Sunday's contest with free food for the first 1,000 people beginning at 1 p.m. along with an inflatable obstacle course, face painting and balloon animals.