Illini Edge EIU 6-5 in 10 Innings
April 21, 2010
MATTOON, Ill. - Illini pinch hitter Daniel Parker had an RBI single in the ninth and right fielder Craig Lutes drove in the winning run with a tenth-inning sacrifice fly as Illinois came from behind to take a 6-5 win in 10 innings over Eastern Illinois Wednesday in front of 1,555 fans at Grimes Field at Peterson Park. First baseman Mike Giller went 3-for-5 with two runs and closer Bryan Roberts pitched the final two innings to earn his first win of the year and hand EIU its fifth-straight loss as Illinois swept the season series between the teams.
"Parker did a good job of working the count and getting a pitch to hit, and Lutes just did his job with that sacrifice fly," Illini head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We've been struggling with our situational hitting lately, but those were two good instances of our guys coming through in tight situations."
Illinois scored first when center fielder Willie Argo laced a triple down the right-field line and came home on a wild pitch to give the Illini a 1-0 lead. But EIU scored three runs with two outs in the bottom half on a walk and three singles, the last of which dropped into right-center after the runners were off with the 3-2 pitch, which allowed all three runners to score.
The Illini looked to battle back in the second when first baseman Mike Giller singled up the middle and third baseman Brandon Hohl drew a walk. Right fielder Craig Lutes dropped down a sacrifice bunt and all three runners were safe when Panther pitcher Mike Recchia's throw to third to cut down Giller pulled the third baseman off the bag. But left fielder Pete Cappetta struck out looking and shortstop Josh Parr grounded back to Recchia to start an inning-ending double play as EIU held onto a 3-1 lead.
Illinois starter Matt Milroy gave up a walk and a hit with one out in the second but induced a double play to get out of the inning. The Illini put up three runs in the third when Argo led off with a double to the wall in center field and moved to third on a groundout by second baseman Christian Cummins. DH Casey McMurray doubled down the left-field line to drive in Argo and he came home on catcher Aaron Johnson's single through the right side. Giller singled to shallow right-center and Johnson was caught stealing at third base, but Giller moved up to second on the double-steal. Hohl walked once more and Lutes lined a single through the left side to plate Giller and put the Illini up 4-3.
Reliever Kevin Manson took over for Milroy in the third and worked a quick seven-pitch inning. After the Illini went down scoreless in the fourth, Manson gave up a one-out single in the bottom half but the runner was erased by Johnson, who caught him stealing at second base. Manson surrendered a two-out double but struck out the next batter looking to end the inning and hold on to the 4-3 lead.
Johnson lined a one-out single up the middle in the fifth, but Giller hit into a double play to end the inning. In the bottom half, John Anderson came out of the bullpen and needed only eight pitches to retire the Panthers, coaxing a flyout to Cappetta in left and a pop-up to Cummins in shallow right before striking out EIU's Alex Gee.
The Illini got back-to-back walks in the sixth, but Lutes was picked off first before Cappetta walked and Parr's bunt died in the dirt just in front of the plate, allowing the catcher to throw him out easily at first for the third out of the inning. In the bottom half, Anderson got two quick outs before giving up a bunt single to third and hitting a batter. EIU catcher Gerik Wallsten then punched a single through the right side that drove in the man from second to tie the game 4-4.
The Illini couldn't take advantage of a two-out walk in the seventh and EIU third baseman blasted a 1-0 offering from Mike Sterk for a solo homer to right field that put the Panthers on top 5-4. Wes Braun relieved Sterk and got out of the inning to keep the Illini within a run.
Both teams were scoreless in the eighth and the Illini looked to get something going in the top of the ninth when Parr was hit by a pitch with one out. He stole second and Argo struck out, but pinch hitter Daniel Parker laced a single through the right side to tie the game 5-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Corey Kimes walked the leadoff hitter and was replaced by closer Bryan Roberts. The next hitter, pinch hitter Ryan Voitik, bunted right back to the mound and Roberts started a 1-6-4 double play to erase the leadoff walk. He then coaxed a first-pitch grounder to new second baseman Bill Charvat, who threw to first to retire the side.
Giller led off the tenth inning with a first-pitch double to the wall in center and moved to third on a wild pitch. Hohl walked and Lutes lifted a deep fly ball to right field that allowed Giller to tag up and score, pushing the Illini ahead, 6-5.
Roberts struck out the first hitter of the tenth inning and induced a grounder to Parr for the second out. He then struck out EIU right fielder Shawn Ferguson, but the third strike went through Johnson's legs and to the backstop for a wild pitch, allowing Ferguson to reach base. Wallsten singled through the right side, putting runners at the corners, but Roberts struck out center fielder Matt Kucharski on a high fastball to seal the Illini win.
Giller was 3-for-5 with a double and two runs, and Johnson went 2-for-5 with an RBI. Argo was 2-for-6 with a double, a triple and two runs, and Lutes was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Manson pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Braun worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings. Roberts finished the game with two shutout innings and three strikeouts as he threw 17 of his 22 pitches for strikes.
The Illini stay on the road, heading to East Lansing, Mich., for a weekend series at Michigan State. Lee Zerrusen will start Friday's game for Illinois, Kevin Johnson will take the ball on Saturday and Will Strack will start on Sunday.