Four-Run Eighth Sparks 7-3 Win Over Spartans
May 4, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - For the second time this week, Illinois broke open a tie game with a four-run eighth inning, as the Illini evened up the series with Michigan State following a 7-3 victory on Saturday. The Illini scored three runs on two hits in the first inning, but didn't get another hit until the eighth when they strung together five, highlighted by a game-winning RBI double from senior Davis Hendrickson, a two-out, two-run single from sophomore Michael Hurwitz and an RBI single by senior Justin Parr, who matched the longest hitting streak in the NCAA this year at 30 games.
"It was a tough game today, and the rally we had in the eighth inning was huge," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Davis did a nice job by putting us ahead with the RBI double, and the dagger in the inning was when Mike Hurwitz got the base hit with a full count and two outs to score two more runs. It really shows our team's character to see our guys rebound from the loss yesterday and get a hard-fought win."
With the game tied at three apiece in the eighth, senior Brandon Hohl singled to left field on the first pitch of the inning. Sophomore David Kerian sacrificed him to second, and redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper sent a single to right field, placing runners on the corners with one out. On a 1-2 pitch, Hendrickson smacked a double to right field and plated Hohl as the go-ahead run.
After a walk and a pop out, Hurwitz worked a full count and singled through the right side to bring home two more runs with the runners moving on the pitch. After a pitching change, Justin Parr waited until his final at-bat for the second day in a row, mimicking what he did on Friday with an RBI single up the middle. This RBI single was more meaningful than the day before, as it put the Illini ahead 7-3 and equaled Oklahoma's Matt Oberste for the nation's longest hitting streak in 2013.
"It was nice to see Justin extend his streak," Hartleb said. "He did something positive to help the team, so it was awesome to see him bring home that fourth run and get to 30 games."
Junior Ronnie Muck, who improved to 3-0, pitched his fourth scoreless frame in the bottom of the eighth, while Roper closed out the ninth with a groundout and a double play. Freshman starter Kevin Duchene received a no decision after allowing three runs and striking out five over four innings.
"I was pleased with our pitching overall," Hartleb said. "Kevin gave us a solid start, and Ronnie did an outstanding job in long relief. It was good to get Reid back on the mound, and he looked sharp today."
The Illini took advantage of fundamental baseball and two-out hitting in the first inning, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Junior Thomas Lindauer singled to left on the second pitch of the game and moved up to second when Hurwitz walked. Justin Parr sacrificed both runners into scoring position with a bunt down the first-base line. During redshirt-junior Jordan Parr's at-bat, Lindauer scored on a wild pitch for the first run of the day.
After a strikeout put two outs on the board, Hohl walked, and Kerian doubled down the right-field line, scoring two more runs and giving the Illini 100 two-out RBI on the year. The Orange and Blue added to that total when three of the four runs in the eighth came with two outs.
MSU scored two runs in the third on a pair of RBI singles and tied it up at three on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, which proved to be Duchene's last inning. Muck took over in the fifth and got help from his defense with a caught stealing by Goldstein in that inning and an outfield assist from Hendrickson in the sixth when MSU's Ryan Krill was thrown out from right field trying to stretch a hit down the line into a double.
Illinois, which also topped Southern Illinois on Tuesday thanks to a four-run eighth inning, improved to 28-14 on the season and 9-8 in the Big Ten, moving back into a tie for sixth place with Michigan. The Spartans dropped to 25-14 overall but remained in fifth place in the conference at 8-6.
Up Next: Illinois and Michigan State will meet for the rubber game in the series finale on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT at McLane Stadium. A pair of sophomores will toe the rubber with UI's John Kravetz facing off against MSU's Mick VanVossen.