Kevin Duchene equaled the most wins ever by an Illini freshman when he improved to 8-1 on Thursday.
May 16, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Freshman Kevin Duchene allowed two earned runs over six solid innings and improved to 8-1, as the Illini won their fourth straight with a 6-2 victory over Minnesota (29-19) at Siebert Field. Duchene matched John Kravetz, who went 8-3 last season, for the most wins ever by an Illini freshman along with equaling the most victories by a Big Ten pitcher this season. Illinois (32-15) remained tied with Michigan for fifth place in the conference at 13-9 with two regular season games left.
"This was one of the best team wins we've had all year," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "There was truly not one person to single out because it was an all-around team effort, so I am very proud of our guys. We did a good job of coming up with key hits all day and were very composed."
Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State all won on Thursday, meaning the Illini and Wolverines still sit a half game in front of the seventh-place Spartans in the conference standings. The Illini control their own destiny and their magic number is two to reach the Big Ten Tournament. The Orange and Blue can clinch a spot in the top six on Friday with a win and a loss by either Michigan or Michigan State. Indiana and Ohio State are tied for first in the Big Ten at 15-7, while Nebraska (14-8) and Minnesota (12-7) are in third and fourth, respectively.
Duchene scattered six hits over six innings while striking out three as his team-leading ERA among starters remained steady at 2.67. The Joliet, Ill., native defeated the Big Ten's ERA leader Tom Windle, who gave up four runs in six innings. Junior Ronnie Muck took over in the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings, while fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts closed out the win with a perfect ninth.
"Kevin was outstanding and our bullpen was very good," Hartleb said. "He went up against one of the top pitchers in the conference and out dueled him today. I am really proud of his work ethic that has gotten him to this point. Every time they got runners in scoring position, we threw quality pitches and came up with big outs."
Both teams got a run across in the first thanks to fundamental baseball. Junior Thomas Lindauer led off the game with a double to left field and advanced to third on a groundout to second by sophomore Michael Hurwitz. With one out, senior Justin Parr brought home Lindauer with a groundout to first, increasing his Big Ten-leading RBI total to 51. Minnesota loaded the bases with nobody out in the first, but Duchene escaped the damage with a sacrifice fly and a double play.
After two scoreless frames, Illinois grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper that plated redshirt-junior Jordan Parr, who walked, stole second and advanced to third on a single by Kerian. The Illini never trailed in the contest and remained in front for the rest of the game.
Illinois' final four runs all came with two outs with two in the sixth and two in the ninth. Senior Davis Hendrickson, who kept the sixth alive by getting hit by a pitch and stealing second, scored on an RBI single by freshman Jason Goldstein. Lindauer followed it up with another RBI single that brought home Goldstein, who moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Minnesota scored its second run on another sacrifice fly, which made it a 4-2 game. After both teams went scoreless in the seventh and eighth, Kerian added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth, as he knocked in both Parr brothers with a two-out, two-run double.
"We came up with the big two-out hits in a crucial game today, which is the sign of a good team," Hartleb said. "David had a great day at the plate and drove some balls. He looked very comfortable."
Half of Illinois' 10 hits were doubles. Kerian finished 3-for-5 a pair of two-baggers, while both of Justin Parr's hits were doubles. Lindauer finished 2-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI. Jordan Parr walked three times and scored twice.
Up Next: Illinois will meet Minnesota for game two on Friday at 2:05 p.m. Freshman Ryan Castellanos will start against junior Alec Crawford live on the Big Ten Network.