May 10, 2014, IOWA CITY, Iowa (ISN) – The Orange and Blue only needed two pitchers and allowed one run for the second straight day, as the Illini equaled their season-long winning streak of six games with a 5-1 victory over Iowa.
Starter John Kravetz pitched into the eighth inning and improved to 6-1, while senior Ronnie Muck earned his second save with 1.2 scoreless stanzas. Every Illini in the lineup contributed offensively.
“We played a much better game today than we did yesterday,” head coach Dan Hartleb said. “John was outstanding. He only ran into a little trouble in the eighth, then Ronnie came in and did a very, very good job.”
Illinois (29-17) tied its mark from 2009 with the best Big Ten record through 20 games under Hartleb at 15-5 and remained in second place in the conference standings. The only other time the Illini won 15 of their first 20 Big Ten games was in 2009. The Illini also improved to 8-0 in conference road games and clinched their fifth Big Ten series victory, as Iowa dropped to 27-19 overall and 8-12 in the Big Ten.
The Orange and Blue out-hit the Hawkeyes, 10-6, as eight of the nine starters recorded a hit. Sophomores Jason Goldstein and Ryan Nagle each had two hits and scored twice. Junior David Kerian, the only Illini without a hit, chipped in an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
“I was really pleased with everybody up and down the lineup,” Hartleb said. “Our offensive production has really come a long way. I don’t think Iowa played poorly, but we just had a quality game.”
The Illini scored in four different innings, beginning with an RBI single by freshman Ryne Roper in the second. Illinois came up clutch with a pair of two-out RBI hits in the fifth to make it 3-0. Junior Will Krug legged out an infield single that plated Nagle, while junior Kelly Norris-Jonesbrought Krug home with a double to the gap in right.
Illinois tacked on an insurance run in each of the final two innings. Redshirt-junior Reid Roper doubled home Goldstein in the eighth, while Kerian drove in Nagle with a sac fly.
Kravetz, who improved to 19-7 in his career, cruised through the first seven innings without a run, meaning Illinois pitchers held the Hawkeyes scoreless for 15 consecutive innings. Iowa scored a run in the first inning of the opener on Friday and only posted one run on Saturday with a leadoff home run in the eighth.
Muck took over on the mound with one out and ended the eighth with a strikeout, walk and groundout. The Park Ridge, Ill., native worked a perfect ninth to close out the second game in the series. With four games remaining in the regular season, Illinois can clinch a top three seed in the Big Ten Tournament with one more win or a loss by Minnesota.
Up Next: Illinois will go for its fourth Big Ten sweep on Sunday in a game that was moved up to 11 a.m. due to potential inclement weather later in the day. The Illini will send Kevin Duchene (2-1, 1.80 ERA) to the hill against Iowa’s Tyler Peyton (4-0, 4.50 ERA) at Duane Banks Field.