Right fielder Davis Hendrickson drove in two runs with a base hit up the middle in the eighth inning to give the Illini a 13-12 lead.
May 20, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Davis Hendrickson knocked a two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth after Willie Argo reached on a bad throw by the pitcher on his sacrifice bunt attempt, and Illinois held on for a 13-12 win over Indiana in front of 1,138 fans at Illinois Field on Friday. Designated hitter Justin Parr went 3-for-6 with five RBIs and first baseman Matt Dittman was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs as the Illini won their fourth-straight game, their longest winning streak since a five-game string from March 19-April 1.
The victory clinches the No. 2 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament and the first-round bye that goes with it for the Illini (24-25 overall, 14-9 in the Big Ten). Minnesota, which had its game against Ohio State rained out on Friday, could tie the Illini for second in the standings with a win and an Illinois loss on Saturday, but the Orange and Blue still would win the tiebreaker.
Illinois also won its fifth-straight Big Ten series, the most ever in a season in school history, and broke the school record with six Big Ten series wins in a season.
It was Illinois' third-straight comeback win and third consecutive win in its last at bat. That gives the Illini 17 comeback wins on the season and nine victories in their last at bat. Illinois also improves to 17-5 when scoring four or more runs in an inning, 20-4 when out-hitting its opponent and 21-1 when tied or ahead after the seventh inning.
"In that situation late in the game, you just have to get that guy over," Hartleb said of Argo's bunt in the eighth inning. "Both sides had trouble getting guys out. Lee (Zerrusen) came in and calmed the game down enough for us to jump out and get a lead, so that's big. (Chris) Pack came in and had the one rough inning with a little adversity, but he did a good job. The thing with leaving him in for that last inning is that he was throwing strikes, he was pounding the zone and we just felt good about him going back out."
Indiana struck first in the first inning when leadoff man Dustin DeMuth roped a double into the gap in right-center after a nine-pitch at bat in which he fouled off seven pitches. A grounder to first moved him up a base and he scored on a wild pitch. Second baseman Micah Johnson walked and DH Alex Dickerson knocked a base hit. One out later, catcher Wes Wilson singled through the right side to drive home Johnson. Shortstop Michael Basil was hit by a pitch and left fielder Brian Lambert punched a two-run single through the middle to put the Hoosiers up 4-0.
But the Illini fought back with three runs in the bottom of the first. Second baseman Pete Cappetta drew a leadoff walk and moved up on Justin Parr's groundout to second base. Cappetta stole third and came home on catcher Adam Davis' groundout. Third baseman Brandon Hohl restarted the rally with a walk and he moved up to second on a bad pickoff throw by Hoosier starter Blake Monar. Left fielder Casey McMurray walked and Dittman smacked an opposite-field double that hit off the left fielder's glove as he crashed into the wall, allowing both runners to score and bring the Illini within 4-3.
Indiana got two more runs in the second after a leadoff walk and a two-run homer by Johnson to push their lead to 6-3. Illinois looked for a big inning in the bottom half when shortstop Josh Parr knocked a one-out single to left and Cappetta singled through the left side. Justin Parr poked a single through the left side, driving in his brother, but he over-ran second on catcher Adam Davis' single to right and was put out as he scrambled back to the bag. Davis stole second and Hohl walked to load the bases, but McMurray grounded to shortstop to end the inning as the Illini managed to cut the margin to 6-4.
Lee Zerrusen, who relieved Illini starter John Anderson in the second, worked a scoreless third inning and the Illinois bats went back to work in the bottom half. Dittman led off with a base hit to right and Argo punched a single through the right side. Hendrickson grounded into a double play but Josh Parr drove in Dittman with a single down the right-field line and Cappetta singled to left-center to put men on the corners. Justin Parr then laced a double to left-center that plated both runners and gave Illinois a 7-6 lead, its first advantage of the game.
After both teams went scoreless in the fourth inning, Basil knocked a first-pitch homer off Zerrusen to tie the game, 7-7.
But Illinois ripped off a four-run inning in the bottom of the fifth as Argo knocked a leadoff single and stole second. Hendrickson walked and Josh Parr reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt when Johnson's foot missed first base after pitcher Jonny Hoffman fielded the bunt. Cappetta hit a chopper to the right of the mound that Hoffman fielded on a diving attempt, but his throw home was wild, allowing Argo and Hendrickson to score on the play and Cappetta to reach second. After a pitching change, Justin Parr laced a two-run single to left but was put out at second after over-sliding the base while attempting to stretch it to a double. After a groundout, Hohl was hit by a pitch and McMurray singled down the right-field line, then Dittman was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But Indiana went to the pen once again, bringing in Matt Carr, who struck out Argo for the final out of the inning as Illinois took an 11-7 lead.
The Hoosiers battled back in the top of the sixth, though, despite Zerrusen retiring two of the first three hitters he faced in the frame. But he gave up a single off the end of a leaping Hohl's glove to put runners at the corners and Indiana catcher Wes Wilson ripped a three-run home to bring the Cream and Crimson within 11-10.
Chris Pack, who relieved Zerrusen to record the final out of the sixth, set down the Hoosiers in order on eight pitches in the top of the seventh. But Carr struck out the side in the bottom half around a two-out walk to Hohl to keep the Illini off the board.
The Hoosiers took advantage of a controversial call in the top of the eighth when Pack fielded DH Alex Dickerson's dribbler down the first-base line and tried to tag him, but Dickerson ran well into foul territory to avoid the tag. All of Illinois' fielders thought it was the third out of the inning but Dickerson was ruled safe. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin doubled to left-center and Wilson drove in both runners with a base hit to left-center, pushing the Hoosiers on top, 12-11.
Dittman started the bottom of the eighth with a first-pitch single and Argo dropped down a bunt to the right of the mound. Carr picked it up but threw wildly to the first and the ball skipped to the side fence, allowing Dittman to end up on third and Argo to cruise into first. Hendrickson fouled off the first two pitches he saw before sending a two-hopper through the middle to drive in both runs and put the Illini up 13-12.
Pack came back out for the ninth and induced a grounder to Parr up the middle for the first out. Pinch hitter Brian Ritz flew out to Argo on the warning track in deep center for the second out and Pack coaxed a fly-out to right-center that Argo caught on the run to seal the victory.
Justin Parr led the offensive attack, going 3-for-5 with a double and a career-high five RBIs. Dittman went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs, and Argo was 2-for-4 with a steal and two runs. Josh Parr went 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs, while Cappetta was 2-for-5 with a walk, a steal, an RBI and three runs. Davis drove in a run, going 1-for-5 with a steal, and Hendrickson was 1-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and a run. Hohl also reached base four times despite going 0-for-1, drawing four walks and being hit by a pitch, and scored a run.
Zerrusen struck out five while allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings of work. Pack improved to 6-1 on the season, allowing two runs on three hits with two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of relief. He has earned victories in back-to-back outings and in four of his last eight appearances.
The same two teams will return to Illinois Field at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, with the Illini sending left-hander Corey Kimes to the hill and Indiana giving the ball to right-hander Matt Dearden.