Illini Stumble in Series Finale at Ohio State, 7-3
April 21, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Illini grabbed an early 2-0 lead, but the Buckeyes responded with a six-run second inning, which Illinois couldn't overcome in a 7-3 loss to Ohio State on Sunday. Senior Justin Parr extended his longest active hit streak in the NCAA to 24 games, which ranks second in school history, one game shy of Ryan Snowden's record of 25 games from 2007. The Chillicothe, Ill., native finished 2-for-4, tallying his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
"We gave up the six-run inning and couldn't string hits together to get back into it," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Our offense was very good on Friday night, but we didn't get the situational hitting we needed over the next two games, so it was a tough end to the series. We are still .500 through half our Big Ten games, so we just need to put this series behind us and look forward."
After 12 conference games, Illinois (24-12 overall) sits at 6-6 and in seventh place in the Big Ten. The Illini have four Big Ten series remaining against Northwestern (April 26-28), Michigan State (May 3-5), Penn State (May 10-12) and Minnesota (May 16-18).
Illinois scored first for the third time in the series, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Thomas Lindauer, who went 3-for-4 with two runs, led off the game with a double and moved up to third on a wild pitch. After the Illini failed to get him home on the first two tries, redshirt-junior Jordan Parr knocked him in with an RBI single to right. After another wild pitch by Buckeye starter Brian King, senior Brandon Hohl sent another 2-out, RBI single up the middle, plating Jordan Parr from second.
The Buckeyes went down in order in the bottom of the first, but came back with six runs on six hits in the second. Two RBI singles and an RBI groundout brought home the first three runs in the inning, while a three-run homer with two outs cleared the bases on Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.
The Illini got one back in the third when senior Justin Parr inched closer to a school record with an RBI single, but they were held scoreless over the final six innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Buckeyes added a run on an RBI double with one out and forced an Illini pitching change. Freshman Nick Blackburn took over for fellow freshman Ryan Castellanos, who suffered his first loss in his third career start after allowing seven earned runs. Blackburn closed out the game with a perfect 3.2 innings, retiring all 11 batters he faced.
"Nick did a good job," Hartleb said. "He attacked the zone and took a step forward. He had struggled a little bit in his recent outings, but he was very solid out there today."
Up Next: The Illini will return to action on Tuesday, April 23, with a midweek contest against Eastern Illinois in Mattoon, Ill., at Peterson Park at 6:05 p.m.