John Kravetz earned his seventh victory, breaking the school record for wins by a freshman, in Illinois' 5-4 triumph over Northwestern on Saturday.
April 28, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - Illinois led 5-0 after six innings but had to hold on for a 5-4 victory over Northwestern at Rocky Miller Park on Saturday, winning the weekend series over the Wildcats for the Illini's second-straight Big Ten series victory. Starting pitcher John Kravetz earned his seventh victory, breaking the school record for wins by a freshman, and Ronnie Muck tossed three scoreless innings of relief to record his third save.
Catcher Kelly Norris-Jones had two hits and drove in two runs as the Illini won their second-straight game despite being out-hit, the only two times this season that it has happened. Jordan Parr also had two hits and Justin Parr reached base three times.
"Overall, we had very good pitching," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "John Kravetz gave us a very good start. The inning where they got some runs, they hit some good pitches. When Ronnie came in, he did a great job of minimizing the damage then got into a groove in the eighth and ninth. Offensively, we moved runners and came up with timely hits, and that was the difference."
Illinois drew first blood, pushing across two runs in the top of the first. Shortstop Thomas Lindauer knocked a leadoff single to left-center and center fielder Willie Argo walked. Left fielder Justin Parr sacrificed the runners up a base and Lindauer scored on a wild pitch. After an out, first baseman Jordan Parr dropped in a double to right-center past the glove of a diving Wildcat right fielder Walker Moses to plate Argo for a 2-0 lead.
Illini starter John Kravetz issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first but retired the next three Wildcats to strand the runner at second. In the second, Norris-Jones dropped a double in down the right-field line and came home on second baseman Reid Roper's base hit through the right side, pushing the margin to 3-0.
Kravetz allowed a pair of two-out singles in the third but kept his cool and induced a fly-out to right that Hendrickson tracked down near the line for the third out, stranding a pair of runners.
Each team went down in order in the fourth and Justin Parr drew a two-out walk in the fifth but was stranded. In the bottom half, Kravetz recorded an out but then gave up three consecutive hits to load the bases with Wildcats. He was able to wriggle out of the jam, though, coaxing a shallow pop-up to center that Argo caught on a dead run for the second out then inducing a groundout to Roper to end the inning and keep Northwestern off the board.
Illinois added a pair of runs in the sixth after Jordan Parr knocked a leadoff single to left and DH Thomas Shelton pulled a single through the right side, pushing Parr to third. After an out, Shelton stole second and, with the infield drawn in, Norris-Jones singled up the middle to drive home both runners and push the margin to 5-0.
After the two-run sixth for the Illini, Kravetz worked a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning and Justin Parr was hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh. But he was stranded at first after a fly-out and a strikeout.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kravetz gave up a single, a double and an RBI single in his first five pitches of the inning. Two more base hits knocked in two more runs and left men at first and second as Ronnie Muck relieved Kravetz. Muck gave up a base hit to right-center that loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly to deep right brought home another run, bringing the Wildcats within 5-4. But Muck bore down, inducing a groundout to Brandon Hohl at third base for the final out of the inning.
The Illini went down in order in the eighth, but Muck returned the favor in the bottom half thanks to an incredible play by Argo in center and a pair of groundouts. Illinois went three-up, three-down in the ninth but Muck set down the Wildcats in order in the bottom half, inducing a foul-out to Jordan Parr, striking out slugger Paul Snieder and coaxing a line-out to Hendrickson for the game's final out.
Norris-Jones led the offense, going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run. Jordan Parr also had two hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, and Roper was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Shelton was 1-for-4 with a steal and a run, and Justin Parr didn't have an official at bat but drew two walks, was hit by a pitch, stole a base and laid down a crucial sacrifice bunt.
On the mound, Kravetz was solid, allowing four runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out two in six innings of work to earn his seventh win. Muck notched his third save with three scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one hit while striking out two.
The same two teams finish the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. with the Illini looking for their first sweep of 2012. Illinois will send redshirt-freshman right-hander Drasen Johnson to the mound, while Northwestern will counter with redshirt-junior right-hander Zach Morton.