Illini Drop Heartbreaker to Michigan State, 4-3
May 5, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Sophomore John Kravetz pitched 7.1 solid innings and left with a 3-1 lead, but Michigan State hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to steal the 4-3 final from the Illini. Senior Justin Parr extended the top hitting streak in the nation this year to 31 games, and junior Thomas Lindauer finished 3-for-4 with a solo home run.
"It was a tough loss," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "This was a really important game, so we have our work cut out for us down the stretch in the Big Ten."
Kravetz cruised into the eighth inning at McLane Stadium having only given up one unearned run. He got a fly out to start the stanza and was replaced by junior Ronnie Muck after a Spartan single. Muck recorded a strikeout for the second out of the inning, getting MSU's designated hitter Blaise Salter to whiff on three pitches. Hartleb went back to the pen for freshman Tyler Jay, who walked Jimmy Pickens on five pitches in a lefty-lefty matchup.
With runners on first and second and two outs, fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts replaced Jay on the mound. Roberts jumped ahead 0-2, but the MSU catcher Joel Fisher sent the next curveball over the let-field fence to put the Spartans in front by one. The Illini went down in order in the ninth and dropped their seventh one-run game of the season.
"John did such a good job and then we went with our bullpen which has been a strength for us all year," Roberts said. "Ronnie got us the big strikeout we needed, but Tyler gave up the walk, and we went to Bryan. He threw two great pitches, but their catcher put a good swing on the next one and hit it out."
With six games remaining, Illinois (28-15) dropped to seventh place in the Big Ten at 9-9, while Michigan State (26-14) held onto fifth place at 9-6. The top six teams earn a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, which is scheduled for May 22-25 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.
After waiting until his final at-bat to extend his hitting streak in the first two games of the series, Justin Parr took the drama out of it with a single in the first inning. The Chillicothe, Ill., native took control of the longest hitting streak in the NCAA this year with a base knock in 31 consecutive games. He is 10 games shy of the all-time Big Ten record of 41 games, which was set by Penn State's Michael Campo in 2000.
For the second day in a row, junior Thomas Lindauer singled to start the game and scored in the first inning. The Moline, Ill., native went first to third on the single by Justin Parr and crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by redshirt-junior Jordan Parr.
Illinois took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Michael Hurwitz that plated freshman Jason Goldstein. After a scoreless third inning by both teams, the Spartans cut the UI lead in half with an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. Both teams were held scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, while Lindauer belted his team-leading ninth home run in the seventh to give Illinois a 3-1 advantage.
Kravetz received a no decision after striking out five and only allowing one earned run over 7.1 innings. Roberts, who started the season 3-0, was pinned with his third loss.
Up Next: Illinois will return to Champaign for its last home series next weekend. The Illini will welcome Penn State to Illinois Field from May 10-12 before hitting the road for the final Big Ten series at Minnesota from May 16-18.