Pete Cappetta ripped four hits to help the Illini to a series win at Northwestern with a 9-4 victory on Sunday.
May 1, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - Senior second baseman Pete Cappetta ripped four hits and starting pitcher Corey Kimes held Northwestern to two runs over seven innings to lift the Illini to a 9-4 win and a series victory at Rocky Miller Park on Sunday. Cappetta hit a three-run home run as part of a four-run second inning and Illinois improved to 17-22 overall, 8-7 in the Big Ten.
It is Illinois' third series victory in five conference weekends and puts them into a tie for fourth place in the conference standings with Minnesota. Purdue and Michigan State are tied for the Big Ten lead at 10-5 and Ohio State is third at 9-6 with three conference series remaining.
"It's good to come in here and win a series on the road," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "If you look around the conference, we were the only road team to win a series this weekend, which is huge. Corey is very capable of being dominant on the mound and he did a good job of putting zeroes on the board. And Pete was just awesome all weekend. He was on base early in games and put pressure on their pitchers."
Illinois struck first with a run in the first inning, scoring in its first at bat for the third-straight game. Cappetta knocked a leadoff single and moved to third on DH Justin Parr's base hit to left-center. Catcher Adam Davis bounced into a double play, but Cappetta came home on the play, giving the Illini a 1-0 lead.
Kimes issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first but erased it with a nifty 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out Northwestern third baseman Chris Lashmet to end the inning.
The Illini blew the game open in the second, scoring four runs on four hits. Left fielder Casey McMurray led off with a hit and he moved to third on first baseman Matt Dittman's single. Center fielder Willie Argo drove in McMurray with an infield hit against new reliever Ethan Brahmschreiber. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson sacrificed the runners up a base and, after an out, Cappetta bashed a 2-0 fastball over the fence in left for his first home run of the season, a three-run bomb, that put Illinois ahead 5-0.
Kimes gave up a pair of singles to start the bottom of the second, but third baseman Brandon Hohl made a nice shoestring catch on a sinking liner before throwing to Cappetta to double off the runner for a twin killing. After another base hit, Kimes notched his second strikeout of the game to end the inning.
Neither team scored in the third, with Kimes inducing a 4-6-3 double play and benefiting from a diving catch by Argo in left-center to retire the side after a pair of walks to start the inning.
Illinois tacked on three in the fourth, as Argo drew a one-out walk and Hendrickson was hit by a pitch. With the runners on the move, shortstop Josh Parr bashed a double to left-center that drove in two, and he moved to third on Cappetta's base hit to right-center. Justin Parr then drove home Josh with a sacrifice fly to left, pushing the Illinois lead to 8-0.
Kimes worked his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, recording three consecutive groundouts. He retired the Wildcats in order in the sixth and Illinois added a run in the top of the seventh. With two outs, McMurray walked and Dittman ripped the first pitch he saw down the right-field line for an RBI double, extending the Illini's lead to 9-0.
But Northwestern got two runs in the seventh after a leadoff double and a triple by center fielder Nick Linne. Kimes got the first out on a dribbler back to the mound, but Hohl mishandled a slow roller, allowing Linne to score. Kimes struck out the next hitter and gave up a base hit through the right side, but Hendrickson gunned down the runner attempting to advance to third on the hit as the Wildcats cut the margin to 9-2.
Will Strack relieved Kimes to start the eighth and retired two quick outs on a strikeout and a grounder to Cappetta. But Parr mishandled a grounder and Strack gave up a base hit to left. He then walked the next two hitters, forcing in a run, before Chris Pack took over. He induced an inning-ending grounder to Parr to keep the Illini lead at 9-3.
Wes Braun came on to pitch the ninth and gave up a run on a walk and a triple before settling down to finish the game and give the Illini a 9-4 win.
Kimes allowed only two runs over seven innings of work, tying his career high for innings pitched. He struck out four and walked four, picking up his first win since March 19.
Cappetta was the offensive star for Illinois, going 4-for-5 to collect the third four-hit game of his career and first since May 16, 2009. Cappetta had a three-run homer and scored twice in the game. Josh Parr also went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run, and Dittman was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run. Argo went 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored, and McMurray also scored twice.
For the series, Cappetta hit a blistering 8-for-12 (.667) with a double, a home run, three RBIs and five runs while playing a flawless second base. Justin Parr went 4-for-10 with an RBI and three runs, and Dittman and McMurray both hit .333 on the weekend, with Dittman driving in three runs.