Home runs power Illinois baseball past Purdue

By Michal Dwojak, Staff writer

Even though the Illinois baseball team and Purdue had the same amount of hits — 13 — it was the type of hits that made the difference.

The Illini scored seven runs on three home runs, which led to an offensive performance where Illinois won 10-5.

“Our bats got going in the beginning,” left fielder Ryan Nagle said. “Throughout, we just kept chipping away. We ended up with 10 runs and that’s what we always want as an offense.”

The rout began in the first inning when Purdue’s starting pitcher Shane Bryant walked shortstop Adam Walton to lead off the inning. Second baseman Reid Roper hit a flyout that scored Walton from third after a Ryan Nagle single that put runners on the corners. Center fielder Casey Fletcher drove in Nagle from third after catcher Jason Goldstein singled to left center field. Then right fielder Pat McInerney hit a bomb over the left center wall to give Illinois the 5-0 lead.

Illinois continued to batter Bryant in the second. Walton hit a double into right center after Ryne Roper led off the inning with a pop out. Nagle wasted little time, hitting a two-run shot into right field just under the scoreboard and just over Purdue’s Ted Snidanko’s glove.

The fireworks continued in the fourth. Nagle hit a single that was bobbled by the shortstop with two outs in the inning. Reid Roper hit a two-run homer into deep center field, giving the Illini a 9-1 lead.

The Illini had the bases loaded in the fifth with no outs, but only scored one run in the inning on a Zack Kolakowski groundout.

Starting pitcher Kevin Duchene had little trouble keeping Purdue off the scoreboard. Despite allowing eight hits, the junior pitcher pitched out of jams and only allowed one run in the third. He finished his day with six strikeouts after facing 27 batters.

Purdue scored three runs in the seventh and one in the eight off of reliever Charlie Naso. The junior gave up five hits and three earned runs. Cody Sedlock came in and pitched 1 1/3 innings to hold the Illini win.

“I didn’t think we were very sharp on the mound today,” head coach Dan Hartleb said. “Kevin battled, he came up with the big outs like he always does in tight situations.”

The two teams will meet for game two of the three-game series Sunday at Illinois.

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