Illini Blast Buckeyes, 11-5, to Win Series
May 8, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois pounded out 16 hits to score 11 runs and Corey Kimes notched his second-straight win to lift the Orange and Blue to a series victory with an 11-5 triumph over Ohio State in front of 1,028 fans at Illinois Field. Davis Hendrickson and Justin Parr each collected three hits and Willie Argo drove in a season-high four runs as Illinois won its third-straight Big Ten series.
The Illini scored 31 runs in three games this weekend on 43 hits, a season-high in both categories over any three-game stretch in 2011, and their 16 hits on Sunday equals the second-most Illinois has recorded this season behind the 17 hits the Illini pounded out on Friday night. The Orange and Blue have now won eight of their last 11 games and six of their last eight Big Ten games.
Illinois (20-24 overall, 10-8 in the Big Ten) stands tied for third in the Big Ten with Ohio State and Purdue after the Boilermakers were swept this weekend by league-leading Michigan State (13-5). Minnesota also swept Michigan in Ann Arbor to take over sole possession of second place at 11-7.
"The offense the past few weeks has been very good and very consistent, so I'm very pleased with the progress we've made," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We were very, very good offensively this weekend and we were very active on the bases. It's good to see these guys going out and having some success.
"Any time you can win a series, whether it's on the road or at home, it's important for your program. It keeps us right in the hunt for not only a Big Ten title but to get us in the (Big Ten) tournament."
Ohio State struck first, getting a run on a leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt and an error by third baseman Thomas Lindauer in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Kimes rebounded in the second, though, requiring only seven pitches to retire the Buckeyes in order. The Illini bunched three hits together in the bottom half with first baseman Matt Dittman, Hendrickson and shortstop Josh Parr each recording a base knock. But Dittman was thrown out at the plate by an eyelash on Parr's base hit as Ohio State held onto its 1-0 lead.
After Kimes retired the Buckeyes in 1-2-3 fashion in the third, DH Justin Parr started the bottom half with a one-out base hit and moved to second on catcher Adam Davis' single to left-center. Left fielder Casey McMurray walked on four pitches and Dittman walked to force in a run. Dittman was put out on Argo's grounder to shortstop and Hendrickson executed a first-pitch hit-and-run to perfection, driving in McMurray and moving Argo to third. Josh Parr hit a sharp grounder to third that Buckeye third baseman Matt Streng mishandled, allowing Argo to score, and second baseman Thomas Lindauer smashed an RBI ground-rule double to left-center to put the Illini on top, 5-1.
Kimes gave up a two-out walk in the fourth to OSU first baseman Josh Dezse, but he was thrown out at second trying to advance on a would-be wild pitch.
In the top of the fifth, Hendrickson made a spectacular over-the-shoulder basket catch before he ran into the wall in right for the second out of the inning but OSU left fielder David Corna ripped a solo homer to bring the Buckeyes within 5-2. That was only the second inning that Kimes had faced more than the minimum number of hitters in the frame, as he had faced only 17 hitters through five innings.
Illinois added two more in the bottom of the fifth when OSU center fielder Tim Wetzel dropped Dittman's high fly ball, allowing Dittman to reach third on the play. He came home on Argo's single to left-center and Argo moved up on Hendrickson's groundout. Josh Parr then ripped a double to left-center, scoring Argo and chasing reliever Theron Minium from the game to push the Illini lead to 7-2.
OSU fought back with a run in the sixth after a pair of singles to start the inning and a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. Hendrickson gathered a shallow pop-up for the second out and Kimes walked OSU Dezse to load the bases. Streng beat out a slow chopper up the middle that Josh Parr kept on the infield as one run scored, and Kimes coaxed a groundout from catcher Greg Solomon as Lindauer threw to Pete Cappetta at second base for the final out of the inning.
Cappetta led off with a base hit to center in the bottom of the sixth, chasing OSU reliever Jared Strayer. After an out, Davis singled off third base and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. McMurray walked to load the bases and, one out later, Argo knocked a base hit up the middle to drive in two. After Argo stole second, Hendrickson poked a single through the left side to drive in McMurray and increase Illinois' margin to 10-3.
Kimes retired the side in order in the seventh, requiring only nine pitches, and the Illini added a run in the bottom half. With one out, Cappetta singled to left and stole second. Justin Parr drove him in with a base hit up the middle, pushing the lead to 11-3.
Chris Pack took over for Kimes in the eighth and Ohio State scored two runs after a leadoff error, a double and a pair of RBI groundouts to get within 11-5 of the Illini. But Pack fought back in the top of the ninth, striking out the first hitter he faced before inducing a groundout and a liner to Lindauer to end the game.
Hendrickson paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run, and Justin Parr was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run. Argo drove in four on the day, going 2-for-5 with a steal and two runs, and Josh Parr went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Cappetta also went 2-for-5 with a steal and two runs, and Davis was 2-for-5 with two runs.
Kimes posted his second-straight quality start, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out one. He retired nine straight hitters from the end of the first into the fourth. Pack gave up a pair of unearned runs on one hit with one strikeout over the last two innings.
On the weekend, Justin Parr led the Illini with a .600 average (9-for-15), one double, a team-high six RBIs and two runs. Josh Parr hit .556 (5-for-9) with a double, a triple, two RBIs, three runs, a steal, two walks and two HBP for a .692 on-base percentage. McMurray hit .500 (5-for-10) with two doubles, three RBIs, a team-high six runs and a steal. The Illini bullpen also was stellar on the weekend, with Pack, Will Strack, Bill Barrett, Lee Zerrusen and Wes Braun combining to toss scoreless frames in all but one of their 13 1/3 innings of work.
The Orange and Blue have the week off for final exams before returning to action at Purdue on Friday, May 13, at 3 p.m. CT.