Pete Cappetta kick-started the Illini offense with an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning on Wednesday.
May 4, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Five Illini pitchers combined on a shutout and Pete Cappetta sparked the Illini offense with a sixth-inning inside-the-park home run as the Orange and Blue took a 7-0 win over Illinois College on Wednesday. Lee Zerrusen tossed four shutout innings in a starting role and Davis Hendrickson drove in a pair of runs with a triple in the seventh as Illinois recorded its first shutout since a 7-0 win over Purdue on May 15, 2010.
"I was pleased with the way we swung the bats tonight and from a pitching standpoint, I thought we did a good job," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. "Any time you shut somebody out, it's a good pitching performance. It's never an easy thing to do."
Zerrusen worked around a one-out walk in the first inning by inducing a 1-6-3 double play to end the frame. He then struck out the first two hitters of the second inning before giving up a base hit. But he coaxed a groundout to Cappetta at second base to end the inning.
Zerrusen required only four pitches to retire the side in the third and the Illini looked to have something brewing in the bottom half when shortstop Josh Parr singled up the middle and stole second. Cappetta beat out a bunt single and the pair attempted a delayed double-steal, but Parr got a late start home and was tagged out after a rundown. Cappetta moved up to second on that play and advanced to third on a balk but was stranded there as the game remained scoreless.
In the sixth, reliever Chris Pack hit consecutive batters with one out before striking out a hitter. He gave up a base hit through the left side but left fielder Casey McMurray tossed a strike to the plate, beating the runner by an eyelash for the final out of the inning.
Cappetta got the Illini on the board in the bottom half, smacking a sinking liner to center on a 3-1 pitch that the center fielder dove for and missed, allowing it to roll to the warning track. Cappetta circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run, Illinois' second this season, to put the Orange and Blue on top, 1-0.
Pack settled down in seventh, retiring the side in order on nine pitches, and the Illini broke it open in the bottom half. After a quick out, McMurray singled up the middle and stole second. First baseman Matt Dittman walked and the pair executed a double-steal, with McMurray scoring when the catcher's throw sailed into left field. Center fielder Willie Argo singled to center, putting runners on the corners, and Argo stole second. Hendrickson then ripped a two-run triple down the right-field line and scored on Parr's base hit up the middle. DH Justin Parr then drove home his brother with a double to right-center, pushing the Illini lead to 6-0.
Luke Joyce took over for Pack and required only nine pitches to set down the Blueboys in the eighth. Pinch hitter Bill Charvat reached on an error by the center fielder and made it to second on the play. One out later, he moved to third on a wild pitch and new first baseman Thomas Shelton walked. New center fielder Pat Sheehan then launched a ball into left field that was caught on the warning track for a sacrifice fly, extending Illinois' lead to 7-0.
Wes Braun pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing a one-out hit but inducing a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Cappetta once again served as a spark plug for the Illini, going 2-for-4 with the inside-the-park homer, his second dinger in the last three games. Hendrickson also went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run, and Josh Parr was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a steal and a run. Justin Parr also doubled and drove in a run.
Five pitchers combined on the shutout, with Zerrusen tossing four innings with two hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Ronnie Muck worked a perfect fifth inning and Pack posted two scoreless frames to record the win, moving to 4-1 on the season. Joyce tossed a perfect eighth and Braun kept the Blueboys scoreless in the ninth.
The Illini return to action on Friday when the open a crucial Big Ten series against Ohio State at the third-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue. First pitch is set for 6:05 and gates open at 5 p.m. The first 2,000 fans will receive free food and there will be inflatable games for the kids. Fans also will be treated to a postgame fireworks show. Illinois will send sophomore right-hander Kevin Johnson to the mound, while OSU will give the ball to senior right-hander Drew Rucinski.