Ferry's Gem Propels Illini to 5-2 Win Over EIU

Freshman Josh Ferry tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high six, as Illinois beat Eastern Illinois, 5-2.
Freshman Josh Ferry tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high six, as Illinois beat Eastern Illinois, 5-2.

April 18, 2012

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MATTOON, Ill. - Freshman Josh Ferry struck out a career-high six over seven scoreless innings and Illinois scored four runs in the final three innings to take a 5-2 win over Eastern Illinois in front of 1,133 fans at Peterson Park on Wednesday. Ferry retired the final 11 hitters he faced, not allowing a base runner after hitting a batter in the fourth inning, to help the Illini sweep the two-game season series from the Panthers after winning 10-3 at Illinois Field on April 10.

"Josh was very, very good tonight," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "He got in a groove and pounded balls down and away. He was very impressive. He was the difference in the ballgame tonight. He was very much in command. Early in the game, we didn't do a very good job of taking advantage of some walks and guys on base. But as we went later in the game, we came up with some big hits."

Ferry allowed a one-out base hit but erased him with an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. In the second, first baseman Jordan Parr drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on a balk and right fielder Davis Hendrickson walked. But Hendrickson was picked off ahead of a third-straight walk to second baseman Reid Roper and catcher Kelly Norris-Jones grounded out to the shortstop to end the frame.

Ferry gave up a leadoff double in the second but induced a groundout to Roper and struck out the next two hitters to strand the runner at third and keep the Panthers off the board. The Illini (20-16) got a run in the third after consecutive singles by DH Thomas Shelton and shortstop Thomas Lindauer. They moved up on a passed ball and, after an out, Shelton scored on left fielder Justin Parr's groundout to the right side, jumping ahead 1-0.

Ferry struck out the first two hitters in the third, giving him four straight strikeouts, then induced an inning-ending groundout. Jordan Parr beat out a leadoff infield hit in the fourth and moved to second on Hendrickson's groundout. Roper walked for the second time and Parr was thrown out trying to steal third. But Norris-Jones grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.

Ferry pitched over a one-out hit batter in the bottom of the fourth, retiring the next two hitters on a fly-out to Justin Parr and a groundout to Lindauer. Lindauer reached base on an error with one out in the fifth but was picked off first and the Illini went down scoreless in the frame.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ferry retired the side on only nine pitches, but EIU (14-20) reliever Matt Borens set down the Illini in order in the sixth. Ferry kept it rolling in the bottom half, requiring just five pitches to induce a pair of groundouts and a three-pitch strikeout.

The Illini got a run in the seventh and Roper doubled to right-center and motored to third when the right fielder mis-handled the ball on the warning track. Norris-Jones sent a grounder to the second baseman, who booted it to his right, then regained it and threw wildly to first, allowing Norris-Jones to reach and Roper to score. Pinch hitter Will Krug singled up the middle but Lindauer grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play as Illinois extended its lead to 2-0.

Ferry continued to cruise in the seventh, retiring the Panthers in order. In the eighth, center fielder Willie Argo drew a leadoff walk and stole second. Justin Parr singled up the middle, driving him in, and moved to second on a passed ball. third baseman Brandon Hohl walked after a lengthy battle with EIU pitcher Keith Koser and Jordan Parr dropped a single into center field to drive home Justin Parr and move Hohl to third. The next two hitters struck out, but Jordan Parr and Hohl pulled off the delayed double-steal play with Hohl scoring before Parr was tagged out, as Illinois extended its lead to 5-0.

Matt Milroy came on to pitch the eighth, striking out a pair of Panthers in a 1-2-3 inning. The Illini went down in order in the ninth and Ronnie Muck entered to finish the game. A leadoff walk and consecutive singles through the left side brought in a run for EIU, then Muck coaxed a groundout to Lindauer. A passed ball brought home a second run, but Muck struck out the next two hitters to seal the 5-2 victory.

Ferry dazzled in a seven-inning outing, striking out six and holding the Panthers to only two hits while not surrendering a walk. Milroy pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two.

Offensively, Jordan Parr was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Justin Parr drove in a pair while going 1-for-4 with a run. Roper reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with a run and two walks, and Krug and Shelton each were 1-for-2, with Shelton scoring a run.

The Illini return home as they welcome Ohio State to Illinois Field for a three-game Big Ten series this weekend. Friday's first pitch is at 6:05 p.m. with junior right-hander Kevin Johnson getting the start for the Orange and Blue.