Illini Hang Tough But Fall Late to Vanderbilt, 10-4
June 1, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 3 Illinois (35-19) hung tough early but struggled late against the tournament's No. 2 overall national seed, falling 10-4 to Vanderbilt (53-9) in front of 3,279 fans at Hawkins Field. The Illini scored first and held two early leads, but Vanderbilt jumped back in front with a three-run fifth and pulled away with a five-run eighth inning to advance to the Nashville Regional final. Illinois will face Georgia Tech for a second time in an elimination game on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.
"I'm obviously disappointed, but we played a very good Vanderbilt team and it's easy to see why they have been so successful," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "They play very unselfish and they move runners. Fundamentally, they were very solid and that was the difference in the game. We weren't very fundamentally sound in the game tonight."
The Illini saw their streak of seven straight games without an error come to an end, as they committed three miscues on Saturday night. Two costly errors came during the five-run eighth when two runs scored after the ball was thrown away on a bunt and another crossed home on a failed rundown play.
"In any bunt situation you need to make sure you get an out, but we didn't do that," Hartleb said. "If you get an out, it's just one or two runs that score and you still have a tight game. It turned into a track meet that inning." It went from a 5-4 contest to the 10-4 final score after Vanderbilt broke it open with five runs in the eighth. Spencer Navin led off the inning with a single, and Jack Lupo reached on a bunt hit when junior Ronnie Muck couldn't make a running snag on the ball. Leadoff hitter Tony Kemp dragged a bunt down the first base line, and sophomore David Kerian's throw to first sailed into foul territory down the right field line, allowing two runs to score and sending Kemp to third. Xavier Turner singled to right, bringing in Kemp, and freshman J.D. Nielsen came in to replace Muck.
After a hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt, the Commodores scored again when the Illini threw the ball away during a rundown and added their fifth run on a sacrifice fly by the next batter. The 10-run output marked the 19th time the Commodores scored 10 or more runs this season. They also collected 17 hits, including five doubles and a triple, as Illinois used six pitchers to get through the three hour and 27-minute game, equaling the longest this year.
Sophomore John Kravetz, who dropped to 5-3 after allowing five runs over 5.1 innings, started strong, retiring eight of the first nine Commodores. He sat down Vanderbilt's top three hitters in order in the first inning and began the second stanza with two quick outs before giving up a hit to DH Zander Wiel, who finished 3-for-3, one of five Vanderbilt players to record multiple hits.
Illinois, which served as the home team based on regional rules, grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Thomas Lindauer quickly extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games with a leadoff triple, marking his first three bagger of the year. After a walk to sophomore Michael Hurwitz, senior Justin Parr grounded out to second base to bring home Lindauer for the game's first run.
In the second time through the lineup, the Commodores started to hit Kravetz. The first three Vanderbilt hitters notched two-out hits to give Vanderbilt a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning. Tony Kemp tallied a two-out single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Xavier Turner drove him in and immediately stole second. Mike Yastrzemski knocked him in with a triple before Kravetz ended the inning with a strikeout of Connor Harrell.
The Illini battled back with two runs in the bottom of the third, retaking a 3-2 lead. Commodore pitcher Tyler Beede, who entered the game 14-0 but received his second no decision of the year, walked the first two batters of the inning. After Vanderbilt nabbed the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt attempt, redshirt-junior Jordan Parr sent a sacrifice fly to right that plated Lindauer for a second time. Senior Brandon Hohl came through with a clutch two-out RBI single that scored Hurwitz, who dislodged the ball from the Commodore catcher in a collision and slapped home on a second effort.
Kravetz worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth when the Illini executed 4-6-3 double play. In the bottom half, redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper drew a leadoff walk, and senior Davis Hendrickson beat out a double-play attempt. Hendrickson stole second and advanced to third on a ground out by Goldstein. Beede bounced a wild pitch away from Navin, and Hendrickson slid in safely to give Illinois a 4-2 lead.
Vanderbilt struck back for three runs in the fifth. The Commodores posted three-straight hits to start the inning, with Yastrzemski's double scoring two. Kravetz fanned Connor Harrell for his sixth strikeout and was replaced by redshirt-sophomore Drasen Johnson. Yastrzemski stole third and scored on Conrad Gregor's groundout up the middle.
Beede walked Hurwitz to lead off the fifth inning and was pulled in favor of Carson Fulmer, who pitched the final five scoreless frames and improved to 3-0. Beede's exit after four innings pitched was his second-shortest outing of the year. Justin Parr got to Fulmer early with a bloop single that sent Hurwitz to third base. Jordan Parr's pop out to center field wasn't deep enough for Hurwitz to tag. Hohl then struck out on a hit and run. Hurwitz scored when Navin's throw went into center field, but the tying run was taken off the board when Hohl was called for batter's interference on Navin's throw, which proved to shift the momentum in the contest.
Up Next: Illinois will face Georgia Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT at Hawkins Field in an elimination game. The winner of that game advances to face Vanderbilt later that night at 7 p.m. Freshman Ryan Castellanos (3-2, 5.22 ERA) will go up against GT's LHP Jonathan King (6-5, 4.14 ERA).