Miscues Cost Illini in 15-8 Defeat by Spartans

Willie Argo doubled and ripped a two-run home run against Michigan State on Friday.
Willie Argo doubled and ripped a two-run home run against Michigan State on Friday.

May 4, 2012

Box Score | Printable Box Score


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Willie Argo and Thomas Shelton each homered but Michigan State scored 14 runs from the fourth to seventh innings as the Spartans grabbed a 15-8 win over Illinois in front of a season-high crowd of 2,499 at the fourth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue at Illinois Field on Friday. It marked the seventh-best crowd in school history.

"We had multiple opportunities in the first three innings to add on to our lead and we weren't able to," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Then in the fourth, fifth and sixth, we made errors, we didn't talk in the field and we gave them multiple extra outs in innings. We made fundamental errors. When you do that, you don't win many games. In college baseball, if you don't do the little things right, it's tough to win a game."

In the first, Kevin Johnson issued a leadoff walk but worked around it after a sacrifice bunt and a pair of groundouts to first baseman Jordan Parr, stranding the runner at third. The Illini (25-20 overall, 8-8 in the Big Ten) got to MSU starter Tony Bucciferro quickly as shortstop Thomas Lindauer was hit by a pitch and center fielder Willie Argo blasted a two-run, opposite-field home run - his first of the season - to put Illinois on top, 2-0.

Johnson worked around a one-out infield hit in the second, keeping the Spartans (28-15, 9-7) scoreless, and the Illini were unable to manufacture anything after a one-out walk to catcher Kelly Norris-Jones in the bottom half.

In the third, Johnson allowed a one-out walk but rolled up an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. In the bottom half, Argo drew a leadoff walk and stole second. After an out, he moved to third on a fly-out to right and first baseman Jordan Parr walked. Parr and Argo tried to pull off the delayed double-steal but Parr was tagged out before Argo could score and the score remained 2-0.

Michigan State broke the game open in the fourth, taking advantage of three Illini errors and three hits to post a four-run frame. Illini DH Thomas Shelton led off the bottom half by yanking a leadoff solo home run off the right-field foul pole, but the next three hitters made outs to cut the Spartan lead to 4-3.

In the fifth, Johnson got a pair of quick outs before issuing a walk, giving up an infield hit and surrendering a two-run double. A single to left brought in another run and, after another single put runners on the corners, Josh Ferry came on in relief of Johnson. Ferry allowed a run to come home on a wild pitch but got out of the inning when Lindauer gloved a liner up the middle as MSU extended its lead to 8-3.

Left fielder Justin Parr doubled to left with two outs in the fifth but he was stranded there to end the inning. MSU continued to pour it on in the sixth, posting five runs on five hits and a walk to extend the margin to 13-3.

In the seventh, MSU added a run on a solo homer, but the Illini answered with a tally of their own. Second baseman Reid Roper drew a leadoff walk and, after an out, Argo doubled to left-center, driving him home and bringing the Illini within 14-4.

Nick Chmielewski, who entered the game with one out in the sixth, tossed a scoreless eighth inning, thanks to an 8-6-2 putout at home plate when a runner tried to score from first on a double to left-center. But Will Krug, who relieved Argo in center to start the eighth, started the play and Lindauer made a strong relay to Norris-Jones, who applied the tag.

Shelton led off the bottom of the eighth with a double down the left-field line and right fielder Davis Hendrickson walked. But the next three hitters made outs and both runners were stranded.

MSU added a run in the ninth on a two-out RBI single by first baseman Ryan Krill, pushing the margin to 15-4. Illinois tried to rally in its last at bat as Krug drew a leadoff walk and pinch hitter Bill Charvat singled to left-center. Pinch hitter Chase Hainline drove in Krug with a base hit to right and Jordan Parr singled to center, plating Charvat from second. The Spartans changed pitchers, bringing in Ryan Martin, but he hit Shelton to load the bases and Hendrickson chopped a base hit over the pitcher's head, scoring Hainline. Alex Lincoln, who came in to catch in the top half of the inning, grounded into a double play, though, as Shelton crossed the plate. Michael Hurwitz struck out and the Illini fell by a score of 15-8.

Argo led the Illini offense, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, an RBI double and a stolen base. Shelton was 2-for-4 with a solo homer and a double, and Justin Parr was 2-for-3 with a double.

The same two teams return to Illinois Field Saturday at 3 p.m. for game two of the series. The Illini give the ball to freshman right-hander John Kravetz, while the Spartans will send junior right-hander Andrew Waszak to the hill.