Sophomore John Kravetz improved to 5-2 and matched a career high with seven strikeouts, as Illinois advanced in the Big Ten Tournament with a 3-2 win over Michigan.
May 23, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Sophomore John Kravetz worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning with three straight strikeouts, setting the tone for 7.1 strong innings in No. 5 Illinois' 3-2 win over No. 6 Michigan (29-27). The Illini (34-17) stayed alive in the Big Ten Tournament after the bullpen closed out their 10th one-run victory behind two key outs from Drasen Johnson and the seventh save from closer Bryan Roberts. Kravetz improved to 5-2 and matched a career high with seven strikeouts at Target Field.
"It was a gutsy performance by John," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "The momentum was in Michigan's favor in that first inning, but he turned it right back around into our favor. Our guys really fed off that."
Kravetz hit the first batter of the game and gave up back-to-back singles, as Michigan loaded the bases with nobody out in the first. The Lansing, Ill., native escaped the tight spot unscathed by striking out the next three Wolverines.
"I didn't get off to the start I wanted with those first three hitters, but was able to get out of that jam," Kravetz said. "I coasted from there for the most part, and the bullpen really picked me up."
Illinois grabbed an early 2-0 lead for the second day in row, plating a run in each of the first two innings. Junior Thomas Lindauer, who went 2-for-3, extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games with a leadoff single to start the game and later scored on an RBI groundout by redshirt-junior Jordan Parr. Lindauer, who was a part of all three scoring plays, brought home redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper on a sacrifice fly in the second.
Kravetz tossed a perfect second before giving up a sacrifice fly in the third that cut the Illini lead in half, 2-1. He kept the Orange and Blue in front by stranding a runner at third to end the third. After allowing a leadoff double in the fourth, he retired the next 11 Wolverines before a single in the seventh snapped the streak.
Sophomore Michael Hurwitz, who finished 2-for-4, put the Illini ahead 3-1 in the fifth with his first triple of the season, scoring Lindauer for a second time with a shot to the gap in right center. The Illini would not score again, but the bullpen held off an eighth inning rally by the Maize and Blue.
Michigan's Michael O'Neill led off the eighth with a triple and scored on a UM's second sacrifice fly by shortstop Travis Maezes. Kravetz allowed a double to the next batter and was replaced by freshman J.D. Nielsen, who walked the only batter he faced. With runners on the corners and one out, Johnson entered the game and recorded a strikeout and groundout to end the threat. Roberts recorded his fourth straight scoreless ninth inning to earn the save.
"Our bullpen has been really good all year and kept it going today," Hartleb said. "Drasen got the big punch out with the tying run on third base and then got the tap out. Bryan came in and finished it off to keep us playing another day."
Illinois matched its most wins (34) in a season since 2009, which also equaled the most in the eight-year Hartleb era. The Illini, who did not play Michigan during the regular season for the second year in a row, defeated the Wolverines for the first time since winning the series opener in 2011. UI improved to 4-7 against UM in the Big Ten Tournament.
Up Next: No. 5 Illinois will play No. 4 Minnesota for the fifth time in eight days on Friday at 12:05 p.m. If the Illini win tomorrow's first game of the day, they would advance to face No. 3 Nebraska immediately after in the day's second game at 3:35 p.m. All games of the Big Ten Tournament are being televised by the Big Ten Network.