Casey McMurray went 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs in Illinois' 17-6 win over Penn State on Sunday, capping off an 11-for-15 performance in the series.
April 27, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Left fielder Casey McMurray stayed hot, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs, to lead Illinois to a 17-6 pasting of Penn State in the series finale Sunday, splitting the series and pushing the Illini's record to 25-16 overall, 11-9 in the Big Ten. McMurray finished the weekend 11-for-15 (.733) with two doubles, five RBIs and seven runs, and center fielder Kyle Hudson went 9-for-13 (.692) with a .750 on-base percentage, two RBIs and five runs.
Illinois hit .443 as a team in four games against the Nittany Lions and did not make an error in the field, the first time the Illini have been flawless defensively in a Big Ten series in at least 18 years.
"We had a very good series at the plate," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "This weekend, Casey was a great example of the consistency that we've emphasized to our players all year. He was able to catch fire in the series after he had a poor game on Wednesday."
In the first inning, second baseman Joe Bonadonna led off with a single and moved to second on Hudson's bunt single. Bonadonna advanced to third when the pitcher made a poor throw to first on Hudson's bunt and scored on a balk that also put Hudson on second. Shortstop Brandon Wikoff's groundout moved Hudson to third and he scored on catcher Aaron Johnson's groundout for a 2-0 lead.
The Illini added a run in the third when Hudson reached on a fielder's choice grounder that put McMurray out at second, and Wikoff drove in Hudson with a base hit to right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Illinois then busted the game open with an eight-run frame in the fourth. With one out, DH Daniel Webb walked and moved to third on third baseman John Schlichter's single down the right-field line. Right fielder Nick Stockwell singled home Webb and McMurray's single loaded the bases. Bonadonna drew an RBI walk and Hudson drove in two with a base hit. One out later, Johnson reached on a grounder and Hudson was safe at second on a bad throw to the bag, then first baseman Ryan Hastings drove in two with a double down the right-field line. Webb followed with a two-run single to right, pushing the lead to 11-0.
Illini starter Billy Barrett took a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings, facing just one more batter more than the minimum in that span. But he began to struggle in the fifth as PSU right fielder Rick Marlin broke up the no-no with a double then Barrett walked the next two hitters and gave up a two-run single to make the score 11-2.
The Orange and Blue got a run back in the fifth when Stockwell singled and McMurray moved him to third with a base hit. After a pitching change, Stockwell was put out at home on Bonadonna's grounder, then Hudson moved the runners up with an infield hit and Wikoff's fielder's choice scored McMurray for a 12-2 margin.
Barrett had a rough sixth inning, allowing two runs and leaving the bases loaded for reliever Mike Stankiewicz, who gave up an RBI single before inducing two groundouts and an inning-ending fly ball to escape with Illinois holding a 12-6 lead. The Illini got a run back in the sixth when Webb drew a one-out walk and, one out later, Stockwell walked. McMurray plated Webb with a single to right-center, pushing Illinois ahead, 13-6.
The Illini tacked on three more runs in the seventh when Hudson drew a lead-off walk and, one out later, Johnson laced an RBI double down the left-field line. Hastings walked and Webb drove in Johnson with a base hit. Hastings came home on Schlichter's sacrifice fly, pushing Illinois ahead, 16-6. The Illini got its final run in the eighth when McMurray knocked a lead-off single and moved to second on a passed ball. One out later, center fielder Craig Lutes singled and McMurray scored on Wikoff's groundout for the final 17-6 margin.
McMurray went 4-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and three runs, and Webb was 2-for-2 with three RBIs, three walks and two runs. Hudson went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs, and Stockwell was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Mike Stankiewicz tossed three shutout innings of relief and Ben Reeser pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to finish the victory.
Up Next: Illinois returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts Southern Illinois in the finale of the teams' two-game season series at 6:05 p.m. The Illini downed SIU, 5-2, on April 1.