Illini Drop Season Finale to Minnesota, 2-0
May 18, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Illinois dropped a pitcher's duel on Saturday, falling 2-0 to Minnesota in the series finale at Siebert Field. Sophomore John Kravetz took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but suffered his second loss of the year after giving up two runs in the eighth inning. The Illini, who clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, finished the regular season 33-16 overall and tied for fifth in the conference with Michigan at 14-10.
"That is one of the best pitched games you will see in college baseball," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "You had two starters who went out and battled. It was a disappointing loss, but I was pleased with the way we showed up. We didn't take anything for granted and played very hard."
Since Illinois owns the tiebreaker over Michigan with a better record against common opponents, the Illini will be the No. 5 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota (30-20) finished fourth in the Big Ten at 13-8 and earned the No. 4 seed, meaning the Illini and Gophers will meet for the fourth game in a row in the opening round on Wednesday, May 22. A complete 2013 Big Ten Tournament bracket can be found above.
"We took care of business earlier in the week, so now we will get some rest and practice to be ready to go next week," Hartleb said. "I don't think either team wants to play four times in a row, but that is the way it has fallen. We have to put the regular season behind us now because it is all about winning games and advancing."
Kravetz retired 15 of the first 16 Gophers, only allowing a hit by pitch in the first five innings. Minnesota led off the sixth with a single, breaking up the no-hit bid. The Lansing, Ill., native gave up his second hit in the seventh, but sat down the next three Gophers as the contest remained scoreless after seven innings.
The Illini, who were shut out for the first time this season, threatened in the top of the eighth, but couldn't scratch a run across the plate. Redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper led off with a single and advanced to second on a single by senior Davis Hendrickson. After a failed sacrifice bunt, junior Thomas Lindauer extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games and loaded the bases with a single. Sophomore Michael Hurwitz sent a laser to second, but the Gophers turned a double play to end the stanza.
The Gophers got to Kravetz right away in the eighth, singling to start the inning and grabbing their first lead of the series on an RBI double. After a sacrifice bunt moved a runner to third, sophomore J.D. Nielsen relieved Kravetz. Nielsen notched the second out with a groundout and was replaced by redshirt-sophomore Drasen Johnson, who gave up a first-pitch RBI single that gave Minnesota a 2-0 advantage.
A leadoff walk to senior Justin Parr forced Minnesota starter DJ Snelten from the game after eight scoreless innings. The Gophers closer, Billy Soule, retired the next three Illini to close out the contest.
Up Next: No. 5 Illinois will play No. 4 Minnesota in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday, May 22. The Illini and Gophers will meet at 12:05 p.m. at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins.