Kravetz, Illini End #24 Indiana's Big Ten Streak, 2-1
April 26, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Junior starter John Kravetz led Illinois to a 2-1 victory over No. 24 Indiana on Saturday, evening the series at Illinois Field and ending the Hoosiers' 10-game conference winning streak. Kravetz shined with one run over 7.1 innings and the bullpen closed out the Illini's eighth one-run win, with sophomore Tyler Jay collecting his seventh save.
"That was a great college baseball game," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "You had two great teams that played well and we were fortunate to come out on top. John Kravetz was outstanding and our bullpen came in and did a great job. The right side of our infield also made diving plays at crucial times."
All three runs in the game crossed home plate in the second inning. Indiana loaded the bases in the top half and pushed across its only tally on a sacrifice fly. Illinois grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom half when junior Casey Fletcher sent a two-run double down the left field line with the bases loaded.
Sophomore Jason Goldstein and redshirt-junior Reid Roper each singled to right in the second and scored on Fletcher's game-winning hit. A hit by pitch to freshman Ryne Roper jammed the bags again in the stanza but a 1-5 line out double play and fly out ended the inning.
After the second inning, only two Hoosiers reached third base for the remainder of the game. Kyle Schwarber drilled Kravetz with a liner in the fifth, but the UI starter shook it off and remained in the game. Schwarber stole second and advanced to third on a fly out to right but was stranded there.
Following a one-out walk in the eighth, senior Ronnie Muck relieved Kravetz and retired the only batter he faced. Dustin DeMuth advanced to second on a passed ball and moved up to third when Muck induced a groundout to second, where Reid Roper made a diving play. Jay replaced Muck and left DeMuth at third by striking out lefty Will Nolden.
The Hoosiers singled to start the ninth and put another runner on with a one-out hit by pitch. Jay recovered by striking out Schwarber and getting Sam Travis to fly out to center for the final out.
Kravetz improved to 5-1 and dropped his ERA to 2.75 with just one run allowed. The Lansing, Ill., native scattered six hits, had three walks and tallied three strikeouts. He is now 2-1 in three career starts against Indiana and 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four Big Ten starts this season.
"It was a total team win," Kravetz said. "The offense picked me up and our defense made some great plays in the field. I pitched to contact and the guys did a great job behind me."
Illinois (23-16) remained tied for second in the Big Ten with Nebraska at 10-4 and got back to two games behind first-place Indiana (27-12) at 12-2. The Illini notched their 11th comeback win this season and are now 8-6 in one-run games.
"I was extremely pleased with the progress we made to come back and get this win after dropping last night's game," Hartleb said.
Up Next: Illinois and No. 24 Indiana will play the rubber game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Illinois Field. Sophomore righty Ryan Castellanos (4-2, 4.43 ERA) will square off against senior lefty Brian Korte (0-0, 1.77 ERA).
The sixth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue presented by WCIA, the premier promotion for Fighting Illini baseball, will begin at noon on Sunday. This year's event will feature free barbecue courtesy of Hickory River for the first 500 fans and free Illinois baseball mini helmets for the first 1,000 fans. Free admission and free parking will be offered at the event, with free food beginning an hour before first pitch at noon. Fans also will be able to get free snow cones in their mini helmets during the showdown between the top two teams in the Big Ten.