Senior pitcher John Anderson tossed his third-straight complete game to lift the Illini to a 6-3 win at Northwestern.
April 30, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - Senior pitcher John Anderson tossed his third-straight complete game, tying a career high with six strikeouts, and four Illini recorded multiple hits as Illinois evened its series at Northwestern with a 6-3 win over the Wildcats. Casey McMurray and Pete Cappetta each recorded three hits, while Brandon Hohl and Matt Dittman each drove in a pair of runs as the Illini improved to 16-22 overall and 7-7 in the Big Ten.
"John Anderson came up big for us once again," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "He was ahead in counts all day and threw four pitches for strikes. And from an offensive standpoint, I was very pleased. We had a lot of guys with multiple hits and even the guys who didn't get hits contributed by moving runners and drawing walks."
Illinois struck first in a big way, pushing across four runs in the first inning against reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Luke Farrell. Cappetta was hit by a pitch and DH Justin Parr singled through the right side. Catcher Adam Davis also got plunked to load the bases and Hohl dropped an RBI single into left-center. After an out, Dittman knocked a two-run single to left and Hohl scored on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Willie Argo to put the Illini up 4-0.
Anderson needed only nine pitches to retire the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the first and Cappetta ripped a one-out base hit in the second. Parr grounded to the shortstop but the relay throw on the attempted double play skipped under the first baseman's glove. Parr moved to second on a balk and scored on Davis' two-out RBI single up the middle, pushing Illinois' lead to 5-0.
Anderson set down Northwestern on eight pitches in the second inning and used nine pitches in the third despite hitting a batter, thanks to a 6-3 double play that ended the inning. The Illini weren't able to touch the scoreboard in the fourth despite a two-out double by Cappetta and a walk by Parr as Davis grounded out to end the inning.
Northwestern took advantage of a two-out error in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs in the frame. The inning started with a bunt single and the runner moved up on a groundout before scoring on a base hit. Second baseman Kyle Ruchim lifted a fly ball to right that the wind played havoc with and it went in and out of right fielder Davis Hendrickson's glove for an error. Anderson hit a batter and gave up a two-run single before eventually getting out of the inning with a fly-out to Argo as the Wildcats cut Illinois' lead to 5-3.
Hohl drew a leadoff walk in the fifth but he was put out on McMurray's fielder's choice grounder. Dittman then grounded into a double play to end the inning. Anderson allowed a leadoff bunt single in the bottom half but erased it with a 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out Northwestern third baseman Chris Lashmet to end the inning.
Both teams went down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings, but Illinois threatened in the eighth. With one out, McMurray dropped a base hit into left-center and Dittman singled through the right side, moving McMurray to third. Dittman advanced on a wild pitch and Argo walked to load the bases. But pinch hitter Thomas Shelton bounced back to the mound, where pitcher Kyle Ruchim threw home for the second out. Shortstop Josh Parr then flied out to right to end the inning with the Illini unable to add to their lead.
Anderson worked his third-straight 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, striking out a pair of hitters. Cappetta started the ninth with a base hit down the right-field line and Justin Parr sacrificed him to second. Cappetta moved to third on Davis' groundout to second and Hohl brought him in with a base hit through the left side, increasing Illinois' lead to 6-3.
Anderson came out for the ninth inning and retired the first two hitters - a pair of fly-outs - on four pitches. He gave up a double down the left-field line but struck out center fielder Nick Linne on three pitches to record his fourth complete game of the season.
Cappetta served as Illinois' offensive spark plug, going 3-for-4 with a double, being hit by a pitch and scoring twice. McMurray had his first multiple-hit game since April 1, going 3-for-5, and Dittman was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Hohl went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, and Justin Parr went 1-for-3 with two runs. Argo also walked once and drove in a run.
Anderson was excellent, allowing only one earned run of the three Wildcats that crossed the plate, giving up only six hits while striking out a career high-tying six and not issuing a walk. He retired the first seven hitters of the game and had five 1-2-3 innings. He threw 71 strikes out of 103 pitches (68.9 percent) and threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 34 batters he faced (67.6 percent).
The teams wrap up the series with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. The Illini will send left-hander Corey Kimes to the mound, while Northwestern hasn't announced a probable starter.