Two-Out Rallies Push Illini Past Buckeyes, 8-3
April 21, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois scored eight runs with two outs and John Kravetz tied the school record for wins by a freshman pitcher with his sixth victory as the Illini beat Ohio State, 8-3, to win the weekend series in front of 1,424 fans on Saturday. First baseman Jordan Parr was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and shortstop Thomas Lindauer reached base five times, stole three bases and scored twice to propel Illinois to its fourth-straight victory.
"You don't ever want to put pressure on the guys this early because you aren't even halfway through the conference (season), but it's obviously important for us to get back in the mix a little bit," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said of winning the series. "We're capable of winning every series we have left and this is a good start to it, but our guys can't be satisfied with that; we have to find a way to get a sweep tomorrow."
"(Kravetz has) done a great job for us. The thing that I thought was the difference in the game today is we got in the three-run (fourth) inning and there wasn't a lot going right for him, but he kept throwing strikes and gave us a chance to get outs. He's had some other innings like that where the inning's blown up because he starts hitting guys and walking guys. But in this situation, he just went after guys and we ended up making a few plays and minimized the damage. He's matured a lot and has done a great job for us.
Kravetz pitched over a two-out single and walk in the first, inducing an inning-ending groundout to first baseman Jordan Parr to keep the Buckeyes (21-18 overall, 6-8 in the Big Ten) scoreless. After the Illini weren't able to capitalize on Lindauer's leadoff single in the bottom half, Kravetz worked a 1-2-3 second inning.
Parr ripped a leadoff double in the bottom of the second and moved to third on second baseman Reid Roper's groundout. DH Will Krug lifted a sacrifice fly to right, plating Parr and giving the Illini a 1-0 lead.
But Kravetz ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up a leadoff double, a base hit and an RBI double before getting an out on a grounder to Jordan Parr. Shortstop Kirby Pellant tripled into the corner in right, driving in a run, but was gunned down at the plate by Roper on a ground ball and Lindauer's throw narrowly beat the runner on a ground ball deep in the hole for the third out as OSU took a 3-1 lead.
The Illini (22-16, 5-6) fought back in the bottom of the fourth as third baseman Brandon Hohl drew a leadoff walk but was erased on Parr's ground ball. Parr was safe and advanced to second when the double-play relay throw was wide of first base. Roper and Krug drew consecutive walks to load the bases and right fielder Davis Hendrickson lifted a fly ball to left-center to drive home Parr, bringing the Illini within 3-2.
Kravetz rebounded in the fifth with a quick 1-2-3 inning and the Illini went back to work in the bottom half. After Ohio State brought in a right-hander to start the frame, Lindauer drew a leadoff walk and stole second as center fielder Willie Argo struck out. He moved to third on left fielder Justin Parr's groundout and Hohl walked. Jordan Parr scalded a single up the middle, driving home Lindauer and tying the game, 3-3.
Kravetz issued a leadoff walk in the sixth but retired the next three hitters to keep the momentum on Illinois' side. With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Hendrickson knocked a single to center and moved to second on catcher Kelly Norris-Jones' sacrifice bunt. Lindauer slashed a single to right, plating Hendrickson, and stole second. Argo ripped a single to left that drove home Lindauer, pushing Illinois ahead 5-3.
Matt Milroy took over for Kravetz in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single before coaxing a foul-out to Norris-Jones and striking out the next two hitters, including Buckeye slugger Josh Dezse with a man in scoring position to end the inning.
The Illini looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the seventh when Roper singled up the middle with two outs and Shelton lined a single to the right side that Dezse tipped off his glove but couldn't handle for an infield hit. The runners moved up on a wild pitch but were stranded there.
Milroy struck out the first two hitters in the eighth, then induced a groundout to Roper for a nine-pitch inning, and the Illini tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom half. Norris-Jones singled up the middle and Lindauer beat out a bunt single. But Argo smoked a ball right to the second baseman, who was shifted toward the bag and stepped on second before throwing to first for the double play. Justin Parr was then intentionally walked and Hohl hammered a double to left that plated Norris-Jones. Jordan Parr blasted a single up the middle that scored two, extending the margin to 8-3.
Luke Joyce came on for the ninth and issued a leadoff walk before coaxing a liner to Jordan Parr, who stepped on the bag at first for an unassisted double play. Joyce then punched out OSU third baseman Ryan Leffel for the game's final out.
On the day, Lindauer was 3-for-3 with two walks, three stolen bases, an RBI and two runs. Jordan Parr went 3-for-5 with a double, three RBIs and two runs, and Hohl was 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI, two walks and a run. Hendrickson went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run, and Argo was 1-for-5 with an RBI.
Kravetz notched his fifth quality start of the season, allowing only three earned runs in six innings on six hits and two walks. Milroy was nearly unhittable in two scoreless innings of relief, fanning four and allowing just one base hit. Joyce walked one and struck out one in his inning of work.
Illinois looks for the sweep in game three of the series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. The Illini will send senior right-hander Brian de la Torriente to the mound, while Ohio State will counter with sophomore right-hander John Kuchno.