Illini Hold on For 5-4 Win Over SIU
April 14, 2010
MARION, Ill. - Illinois scored four runs in the second and third innings, and withstood a late rally to take a 5-4 win over Southern Illinois in front of 1,087 fans at Rent One Park Wednesday. Left fielder Pete Cappetta and third baseman Brandon Hohl each had two hits as the Illini won a pair of mid-week games for the first time since 2008 to improve to 15-13 for the season.
"Our pitching was very solid early in the game, which allowed us to jump out to a lead," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. "We weren't able to bunch hits together later in the game, but we had just enough to pull out the win. I'm proud of the way our guys bounced back from a tough series last weekend and I think we're in a good mindset heading into this weekend."
The Illini hit the scoreboard first when SIU's shortstop, Mike Stalter, wasn't able to handle a grounder toward the middle by Illinois third baseman Brandon Hohl and left fielder Pete Cappetta smacked an RBI triple to the deepest part of the park in left-center. Second baseman Christian Cummins followed by ripping a double to right-center, plating Cappetta and making the Illini lead 2-0.
After Illinois starter Matt Milroy posted a scoreless second inning, the bats went back to work in the third. Center fielder Willie Argo doubled down the left-field line to start the frame and first baseman Mike Giller walked. After an out, Argo stole third and catcher Aaron Johnson struck out, but Giller and Argo executed a double-steal for the second time in as many nights as Argo slid in safely at the plate. Hohl then checked his swing on the first pitch he saw but knocked a single down the right-field line that drove home Giller to make the Illini lead 4-0.
SIU pushed across a run in the bottom of the third without a hit when Milroy hit the first batter he saw and gave up a walk. After a wild pitch, Milroy walked the bases loaded before striking out Saluki left fielder Nick Johnson. Stalter knocked what looked like a double-play ball to Parr, who was only able to get the out at second after bobbling the grounder as a run scored. Milroy walked the bases loaded once again before fanning first baseman Austin Montgomery.
Reliever Billy Barrett pitched two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, allowing only one hit while striking out one. In the seventh, Giller started the rally with a base hit to right-center but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double. DH Thomas Shelton poked a single through the left side and moved to second on Johnson's groundout, before scoring on Hohl's base hit to shallow right-center, pushing the Illini lead to 5-1.
Wes Braun kept the Salukis off the board in the seventh and Mike Sterk pitched a perfect eighth inning to keep the Illini in control. Bryan Roberts came on to pitch the ninth and gave up two opposite-field singles sandwiched around a strikeout. He walked the bases loaded and hit the next batter on a 2-2 count to force in a run. The next hitter grounded softly to Parr, who was only able to get the out at second, and Nick Johnson singled up the middle to bring the Salukis within 5-4. Second baseman Christian Cummins kept the lead runner at second by gloving the base hit before it reached the outfield and Cappetta ran down a fly ball in the left-center gap to record the game's final out and seal the Illini's win.
Hohl led the Illini offense, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run, and Cappetta was 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run. Argo was 1-for-3 with three stolen bases and a run, giving him seven steals in two mid-week games. Barrett, Braun and Sterk all posted scoreless relief appearances.
The Illini return home for a weekend series with league-leading Michigan. The Wolverines also won a pair of mid-week games to improve to 20-11 overall, 4-2 in the Big Ten. Friday's game will begin at 6:05 p.m. with Illini senior right-hander Kevin Manson getting the start.