Illini pitcher John Anderson allowed one earned run over eight innings to keep the Illini alive at the NCAA Fullerton Regional with a 5-3 win over Kansas State.
June 4, 2011
FULLERTON, Calif. - Senior pitcher John Anderson pitched into the ninth inning, allowing only one earned run on seven hits and a walk, and shortstop Josh Parr drove in three runs to lift the fourth-seeded Illini over No. 3 seed Kansas State, 5-3, in an elimination game at the NCAA Tournament's Fullerton Regional on Saturday. Anderson stymied a potent Wildcat offense in his 110-pitch effort and eight of nine Illinois starters recorded a hit as the Illini advance to face the winner of the Cal State Fullerton/Stanford game at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday.
"We're still alive," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "That's the best part. John Anderson was in command all day. He threw three pitches for strikes. The defense came up with some big double plays and we had some timely hitting. We had a couple of lapses in the field, but we were able to overcome those mistakes. We've done a good job all year with our backs against the wall."
Anderson pitched eight complete innings and faced the first hitter in the ninth, giving up three runs, only one earned, on the day, while scattering seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He used 110 pitches and threw 70 strikes (64 percent), and only allowed four runners past second base on the day. Chris Pack retired the side in the ninth, inducing a 4-6-3 double play and inducing a groundout to second base to end the game.
"I tried to come up big in big games all year," Illinois starting pitcher John Anderson said. "I've struggled in some of those games, but to do it on this stage is really a thrill for me."
With the victory, the Illini have won at least one game in each of their previous eight NCAA Tournament appearances, going back to 1947, and now has 20 comeback wins on the season. Illinois has won 10 of its last 12 and 17 of its last 22 games as it improves to 29-26 overall. Kansas State ends the season at 36-25.
In the first, DH Justin Parr knocked a one-out base hit to center but he was stranded there as catcher Adam Davis flew out and third baseman Brandon Hohl was robbed of extra bases by a diving Kent Urban in left-center, keeping the Illini scoreless.
Kansas State got on the board first with a one-out solo home run by right fielder Mike Kindel to straightaway center field to go up 1-0 after two innings.
But Illinois responded with a pair of runs in the third inning. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson led off with a triple to left-center and shortstop Josh Parr drove him in with a high-chopping double down the left-field line. Second baseman Pete Cappetta sacrificed Parr to third and DH Justin Parr drove him in with a sacrifice fly, putting the Illini on top, 2-1.
The Orange and Blue pushed across three runs in the fourth when left fielder Casey McMurray drew a one-out walk and first baseman Matt Dittman singled to center. Center fielder Willie Argo was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Hendrickson lifted a sacrifice fly to left that brought home McMurray. Josh Parr then blasted a triple down the left-field line, driving in two runs, and pushing Illinois' lead to 5-1.
"Josh has been very consistent all year," Hartleb said. "He's been very productive and has done a great job in that (No. 9 hitter) position. He had some great hits and showed composure, but we're confident in all of our guys up and down the lineup. It was just Josh's turn today and he produced for us."
Anderson put it on cruise control in the bottom of the fourth, retiring the first two hitters before issuing a walk. But he struck out catcher Dan Klein on three pitches to keep the Wildcats off the board.
Hohl worked a 12-pitch at bat into a two-out single up the middle in the fifth but he was stranded there. In the bottom half, Parr mishandled a grounder from K-State shortstop Jake Brown, resulting in an error, and second baseman Ross Kivett singled to left. The next hitter sacrificed the runners over and Wildcat center fielder drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Third baseman Jason King drove in another run with a single to left-center, but McMurray gunned him down trying to stretch it to a double as KSU got within 5-3 of the Illini.
Illinois looked to rally with two outs in the sixth when Hendrickson ripped a double off the wall in right field. Josh Parr battled with KSU reliever Gerardo Esquivel but struck out on a high, inside fastball.
Anderson regained form in the bottom of the sixth, retiring the side on six pitches for his first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Cappetta started the seventh with a first-pitch single, chasing K-State reliever Gerardo Esquivel from the game. Evan Marshall entered the game for the Wildcats and struck out the side around plunking catcher Adam Davis to strand a pair of Illini runners.
Anderson gave up a one-out single in the seventh but rolled up a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. In the eighth, Dittman smacked a leadoff single to left but was put out on Argo's grounder to the pitcher. Argo was caught stealing and Hendrickson struck out as K-State kept the Illini off the board as Illinois held onto its 5-3 lead.
Anderson kept rolling in the eighth, catching a liner back up the middle from Urban before coaxing a pair of fly-outs from the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the Wildcat lineup to work a 1-2-3 inning.
The Illini threatened again in the ninth, closing out the contest by putting at least one runner on base in every inning. After Josh Parr popped out to lead off the inning, Cappetta tallied an infield single between the pitching mound and second base. Davis followed with a hard-hit grounder, which Kivett bobbled at second base to allow Davis to reach and put runners on first and second for Hohl. Marshall loaded the bases with a full-count walk to Hohl; however, McMurray flied out to right field to end the Illini threat.
Anderson returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth in search of his fifth complete game of the season; however, a single by the first batter of the frame, Wade Hinkle, ended Anderson's night. Hartleb replaced Anderson with right-handed reliever Chris Pack to close out the contest and earn his fourth save of the season. With Ryan Moore pinch running for Kansas State at first, Pack induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Mike Kindel to clear the bases and closed the contest with a routine groundout to Cappetta at second.
Eight of the nine Illini starters tallied at least one hit, while four batters recorded two base knocks during the contest, including Josh Parr, Henrickson, Dittman and Cappetta. The No. 8 and 9 hitters for the Illini, Hendrickson and Josh Parr finished a combined 4-for-7 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Anderson went eight innings while holding Kansas State to three runs, with only the homer by Kindel being an earned run. Anderson spread seven hits and one walk over his eight frames while fanning three batters. Pack tallied his fourth save by earning three outs despite only facing two hitters, recording his second consecutive save in as many chances.
Illinois will face the loser of the Cal State Fullerton vs. Stanford game at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 5. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and streamed at ESPN3.com. It also will be aired live on WDWS AM-1400 and on FightingIllini.com for free.