April 26, 2013
| at Illinois
| Final Score
|| NU 4, ILL 3 (13)
|| NU 18-15 (7-9 B1G), Illinois 24-13 (6-7 B1G)
| Next Game
|| at Illinois (Champaign, Ill.), April 27, 3:05 p.m.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two extra-inning home runs and a pair of prolific pitching performances helped Northwestern withstand a pair of comebacks by Illinois as the Wildcats trampled their instate rivals, 4-3, in 13 innings Friday night at Illinois Field.
Jack Havey's solo shot to left field in the top of the 13th inning proved to be the decisive blow in a low-scoring pitcher's duel. It was the second home run of the season for the first baseman with both blasts coming in extra-inning victories for Northwestern.
Earier after Illinois tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, Northwestern's Trevor Stevens belted his first home run of the year off Illinois reliever Bryan Roberts. The Wildcats could not hold the narrow lead in the bottom of the 10th, however.
Kyle Ruchim opened the game in center field, but the Buffalo Grove, Ill., native eventually picked up his fourth win of the season out of the bullpen. The junior threw a career-high five innings in relief and racked up a personal-best eight strikeouts along the way. Ruchim's biggest punch-out of the night came when he caught pinch hitter Ryan Nagle looking at strike three to end the contest and send the visiting team home happy.
Luke Farrell turned in another outstanding quality start on the bump for the 'Cats. The reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week allowed just one run on four hits through eight innings of work Friday. He added five strikeouts and lowered his ERA to a miniscule 1.79.
Northwestern went to work right away Friday night against freshman southpaw Kevin Duchene. Stevens singled through the left side and soon stole his team-best 14th base of the season. The fifth-year senior scored with ease two batters later when his classmate, Zach Morton, lined a base hit to left field to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 advantage.
Jordan Parr drew a lead-off walk to open the second inning and the left fielder came around to score two batters later on an RBI groundout. Farrell limited the damage and stranded a runner with a pair of strikeouts in the inning.
The Illini threatened once again in the bottom of the fourth inning, but a pair of runners were caught stealing to squash the short-lived threat. Parr drew his second walk in as many at-bats, but Jake Straub denied the attempt for the second out of the frame. After Brandon Hohl singled to center field, he was caught running too early and a throw from Farrell to Havey ended the inning.
The Wildcats got their offense ignited once again with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Straub collected his first extra-base hit of the season with a two-bagger to left-center field. Pinch hitter Zach Jones reached on an error that allowed Straub to advance to third base. Straub then gave Northwestern the lead once again when he scored on a passed ball with Stevens at the dish. Stevens dropped his second single of the evening in front of Parr who made a strong throw to erase Jones on a bang-bang play at the plate to finish the frame.
Ruchim opened the top of the eighth with a well-struck double off the base of the wall in right field before moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Morton. Illinois called on Ronnie Muck out of the bullpen to maneuver out of the jam and he did just that with back-to-back strikeouts to strand NU's center fielder 90 feet away.
Justin Parr led off the bottom of the ninth with a single for Illinois to extend his hitting to 25 games. His brother, Jordan, reached on a fielder's choice and after a sacrifice bunt, both Parrs were in scoring position with one out. David Kerian was intentionally walked and the next batter, Reid Roper delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to force extra innings.
Stevens quickly untied the game when he led off the 10th inning with his first home run of the season. His sixth career blast gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead, but unfortunately it would not last.
In the bottom of the 10th, a one-out walk and a pair of singles gave Illinois an equalizer. Jordan Parr drove in the game-tying run with a two-out base hit up the middle past a diving Stevens to score Thomas Lindauer. Ruchim notched his third strikeout in two innings to end the stanza with the bases loaded and force an 11th frame.
Ruchim faced a bit of adversity later in the 12th inning. With two outs the Parr brothers reached on an error and walked in back-to-back at-bats, but the Wildcats closer fanned Hohl to end the rally and turn it back over to NU lineup.
The Wildcats improved to 4-2 in extra-inning games this season and 8-1 when scoring a run in the first inning. Northwestern moves to 12-3 in 2013 when denting the scoreboard before its opponent.
The three-game set continues on Saturday afternoon at Illinois Field. Sophomore Brandon Magallones is slated to climb the hill for the Wildcats; he'll be opposed by Illinois sophomore John Kravetz. The first pitch it scheduled for 3:05 p.m. and the ballgame can be seen on the Big Ten Digital Network on Wildcats All Access.
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