Jordan Parr's 2 Homers Propel Illini Past Georgia Tech, 6-4
May 31, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr belted two home runs and freshman Kevin Duchene set an Illinois school record in No. 3 Illinois' 6-4 win over No. 2 Georgia Tech in the first round of the Nashville Regional. Duchene (9-1) struck out five and allowed three runs over seven quality innings to earn his ninth victory, marking the most wins ever by an Illini freshman. Illinois (35-18) notched its most wins in a season under head coach Dan Hartleb and advanced to the next round of the regional, where they will face host No. 1 Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
"Kevin was outstanding today and Jordan gave him a cushion with the big home runs," Hartleb said. "Kevin put a lot of zeroes up early and I was really pleased with his composure. It is obviously nice to stay in the winner's bracket, and our guys played extremely well."
Jordan Parr delivered his second multi-homer game of the season, hitting a two-run bomb to give the Illini a 2-0 lead as part of a three-run fourth, with senior Davis Hendrickson tallying the third run on a two-out RBI single. Parr added a solo shot over the 35-foot left field wall in the sixth to make it 4-0. The Chillicothe, Ill., native, who is second on the team with eight home runs, also crushed two home runs on April 30 vs. Southern Illinois. Both his homers went to left field, as he finished 2-for-5 with three RBI in his first career regional game.
"I didn't know either of them were gone when I hit them," Parr said. "The second one got a little lucky with the wind to get out. I just put two good swings on balls and am thankful they went out."
Duchene scattered five hits over his first five scoreless innings. Pitching with a four-run cushion, the Joliet, Ill., native ran into trouble in the sixth, but escaped with a 4-2 lead after the Yellow Jackets scored their first two runs. Following a two-out walk, GT turned in back-to-back RBI triples with one to left and one to center. Duchene's second and final walk put runners on the corners before he ended the threat with a fielder's choice.
"It was one of the first times I had butterflies," said Duchene of pitching in his first regional. "I tried to settle down and not get too excited out there. It seems like every start I make this year, one of the Parr brothers hits a home run. It's really nice to pitch with the lead."
In the seventh, Georgia Tech made it a one-run game, cutting the Illini lead to 4-3 on a solo home run, the first homer given up by Duchene this season. Duchene bounced back with his fifth strikeout and a fly out to end the stanza.
Illinois added a pair of insurance runs on RBI singles by junior Thomas Lindauer and senior Justin Parr in the top of the eighth, increasing its lead to 6-3. Redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper and Hendrickson, who went 2-for-3, started the inning with consecutive singles. After a sacrifice bunt by freshman Jason Goldstein, Lindauer extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games with a bloop single to right that plated Roper. A fly out put two outs on the board before Justin Parr, who finished 2-for-5, lined a single to right that brought home Hendrickson.
Junior Ronnie Muck took over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, allowing one run on a sacrifice fly but keeping the Illini in front 6-4. After going down in order in the top of the ninth, closer Bryan Roberts took the ball in the bottom half. The Lisle, Ill., native allowed a pair of walks in the final frame but notched his eighth save, as sophomore David Kerian made a diving play on a line drive to first to end it.
Duchene, who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of 12 starts, collected his ninth win and broke the tie with John Kravetz, who set the Illinois record for most victories by a freshman with eight last year. Roberts grabbed his 17th career save, tying him for third with Jake Toohey on Illinois' all-time list.
Making its 11th NCAA postseason appearance in school history, Illinois improved to 7-4 in opening round games and 18-20 overall.
Up Next: No. 3 Illinois will serve as the home team on Saturday night when it faces No. 1 Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field. The Illini and Commodores will square off on ESPNU at 7 p.m., with sophomore John Kravetz (5-2, 3.96 ERA) going up against sophomore Tyler Beede (14-0, 2.10 ERA).