Freshman Kevin Duchene struck out a career-high 11 during a two-hit shutout on Friday night.
May 10, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Freshman Kevin Duchene collected a career-high 11 strikeouts and tossed his first career complete-game shutout, as Illinois capitalized on a mental miscue and blanked Penn State, 9-0. The Illini scored all nine of their runs with two outs, including a two-run homer in the third by senior Justin Parr and seven in the fourth. Duchene improved to 7-1, which is tied for the most wins in the Big Ten and second-most victories ever by an Illini freshman.
"Kevin was just outstanding tonight," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "He threw four pitches for a strike, and it seemed like every time I looked at the scoreboard, it was 0-2 or 1-2. I've said he is capable of being a number one starter and he took another step in that direction tonight."
Duchene carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the two PSU hits equals the fewest allowed by Illinois this season. He did not give up a hit for the first six innings before a single up the middle started off the seventh and broke up the no-hit bid. He rolled a double play on the next pitch and allowed his only other hit in the game with an infield single to the next batter. The Joliet, Ill., native was perfect in seven of nine innings, only giving up a walk in the third and two hits in the seventh. He posted the second complete-game shutout by an Illini this year, with senior Kevin Johnson turning in the other on March 29 against Oakland.
Duchene's 11 strikeouts equaled the most by an Illini pitcher since Drew Dickinson fanned 12 in an 11-inning win over Bucknell on March 15, 2002. Three other Illini pitchers have notched 11 strikeouts over the past decade. Matt Milroy tallied 11 strikeouts against Northwestern on April 29, 2012, Kevin Johnson struck out 11 against Northern Illinois on March 17, 2011, and Jimmy Conroy fanned 11 against Michigan State on April 11, 2004.
"I had command of all four of my pitches today," Duchene said. "I used a steady mix of fastballs and change ups before throwing in some curveballs and sliders at the end. It was really easy to throw when the guys gave me a cushion like they did."
With two outs in the third, Justin Parr belted his sixth home run of the year over the right field fence, which plated sophomore Michael Hurwitz, who kept the inning alive with a single to center. Justin Parr finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and extended the longest hitting streak in the NCAA this season to 32 games.
Illinois made Penn State pay for a mental miscue by scoring seven runs following the blunder in the fourth. After a pair of fly outs, senior Davis Hendrickson doubled to center to keep the inning going. Freshman Jason Goldstein sent a grounder to third, but the PSU third baseman mistakenly stepped on third thinking it was a force out to end the inning. Goldstein reached on the fielder's choice, and the Illini followed it up with seven runs on six hits to grab the 9-0 lead.
Junior Thomas Lindauer sent an RBI single to left to score Hendrickson followed by a two-run double from Hurwitz. Justin Parr had an RBI single up the middle and moved up to second on a single by redshirt-junior Jordan Parr. Senior Brandon Hohl continued the rally with an RBI single, and sophomore David Kerian finished it up with a two-run double down the right-field line.
"We did a great job offensively," Hartleb said. "Justin got the big home run to extend his streak after Mike kept the inning going with the two-out hit. We took advantage of a mental lapse and put seven runs up in that situation."
Illinois (29-15) improved to 10-9 in the Big Ten but remained in seventh place in the standings, while Penn State (12-32) dropped to 3-16 in the conference. The Illini also snapped a five-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions.
Up Next: Illinois will play Penn State in game two of the series on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Freshman Ryan Castellanos will square off against junior Greg Welsh at Illinois Field.