Illini Drop Extra-Inning Battle with Spartans, 6-5
May 5, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Junior third baseman Brandon Hohl tied the game with a two-run single in the fifth inning but Michigan State scored an unearned run in the 10th inning to take a 6-5 victory over the Illini and win the series at Illinois Field on Saturday. The loss is Illinois' third-straight defeat and drops the Illini to 25-21 overall, 8-9 in the Big Ten and into eighth place in the league standings. Illinois currently stands one game out of sixth place, which is the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament field.
Willie Argo, Reid Roper and Hohl each tallied two hits, and Jordan Parr hit a three-run homer in the first inning. Matt Milroy took the hard-luck loss, holding the Spartans hitless over three innings of relief with four strikeouts.
"There's disappointment, obviously," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "I'm sure (our players) feel, and I feel, that we beat ourselves. It's a situation where we've got to forget it, come out and find a way to win a game tomorrow. The difference today (compared to Friday) was we got down and we continued to pitch a little bit and gave ourselves an opportunity to get back in the game."
Illini starter John Kravetz retired the game's first two hitters before issuing a walk and allowing a base hit up the middle that moved the runner to third. But he coaxed a liner to right fielder Davis Hendrickson to keep the Spartans off the board.
In the bottom of the first, center fielder Willie Argo reached on a one-out infield hit but was put out on left fielder Justin Parr's soft liner that fell in next to the second baseman, who threw to shortstop for the out. Third baseman Brandon Hohl sent a ringing single to right and Jordan Parr ripped a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left for a three-run home run to push the Illini ahead, 3-0.
But Michigan State battled back in the second on four hits and a walk, including a two-out grand slam by third baseman Torsten Boss, to pull ahead, 5-3. Catcher Kelly Norris-Jones singled off the first baseman's glove with one out in the bottom half, but a double play ended the inning.
In the third, the Spartans loaded the bases with one out on two hit batters and a walk, but Kravetz wriggled out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Shortstop Thomas Lindauer was hit by a pitch to start the bottom half and, one out later, Justin Parr walked to put men at first and second. But a fly-out to right and a liner to the second baseman ended the inning and kept the Illini off the board.
Kravetz worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning but the Illini also were retired in order in the bottom half by Spartan starter Andrew Waszak. MSU got a leadoff single in the fifth but Norris-Jones caught the runner and a pair of fly-outs kept the Spartans scoreless.
Kravetz allowed a two-out single in the sixth but got out of the frame unscathed. In the bottom half, Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch and second baseman Reid Roper singled through the right side to put men on first and second with one out. But Lindauer hit into a 5-3 double play that kept the Illini off the board.
In the seventh, Kravetz worked a 1-2-3 frame and Justin Parr beat out a one-out infield hit in the bottom half. Third baseman Brandon Hohl grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, though, as the game remained tied.
Matt Milroy came on in relief of Kravetz in the eighth and made short work of the Spartans, retiring them in order. But MSU reliever Jeff Kinley, who entered the game in the seventh, returned the favor with a 1-2-3 bottom half of the eighth.
Milroy struck out the first hitter of the ninth inning before issuing a walk to center fielder Anthony Cheky. Cheky stole second but Milroy struck out second baseman Ryan Jones and induced a groundout to Jordan Parr to strand the runner and keep the game knotted at 5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Roper moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Will Krug pinch ran for Norris-Jones, but Lindauer grounded out to third base, Argo was intentionally walked and Justin Parr grounded out to shortstop to end the inning and send the game to extras.
Milroy struck out Torsten Boss to start the 10th but walked left fielder Jordan Keur. Keur stole second and DH Ryan Krill grounded one to Jordan Parr's right that went under the first baseman's glove and allowed Keur to score, giving MSU a 6-5 lead. Milroy induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the frame but the damage had been done.
In the bottom half, Parr lifted a high fly ball to right with one out that Jimmy Pickens dropped, allowing Parr to reach second. Shelton struck out and Hendrickson walked. David Kerian pinch hit for Alex Lincoln, who came in the game to catch in the 10th after Norris-Jones was pinch-run for, and the Spartans brought in closer Tony Wieber. On a 1-2 count, Kerian fouled a pitch off that just stayed inside the fence along the third-base side and Boss made the catch while falling backward to seal the victory.
Hohl was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run in the game, while Argo went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run. Roper went 2-for-3 with a run and Jordan Parr blasted a three-run homer in the first inning, finishing the day 1-for-5. Norris-Jones also reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two hit by pitches.
On the mound, Milroy tossed three solid innings of relief, not allowing a hit while permitting one unearned run, striking out four and walking two.
Illinois looks to avoid the sweep on Sunday when it faces Michigan State at 1:05 p.m. Redshirt-freshman right-hander Drasen Johnson gets the start for the Illini, while the Spartans will give the ball to sophomore righty David Garner.