April 30, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Rocky Miller Park)
Score: Illinois 6, Northwestern 3
Records: NU (14-24, 6-8 Big Ten), Illinois (16-22, 7-7 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Sunday, May 1 -- vs. Illinois (Rocky Miller Park), 1 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern faced a four-run deficit before it came to bat for the first time and could never completely recover, falling to Illinois 6-3 Saturday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park.
A recent string of first-inning struggles for Wildcat pitchers continued on Saturday as not even reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Luke Farrell was immune. The first four Illinois batters reached base, capped by an RBI single by Brandon Hohl. Matt Dittman would plate two with a one-out single before Willie Argo added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
The visitors added one more run in the second. With a runner on first and two outs, a balk hurt Farrell as it advanced Justin Parr to scoring position and he would score on a single to center by Adam Davis.
The Wildcats had a tough time getting things going against right-hander John Anderson. NU didn't get its first hit until Trevor Stevens led off the bottom of the fourth with a bunt single. Stevens was at second with two away when Jack Havey lined a single back up the middle to get Northwestern on the board.
A tricky, stiff wind blowing in from center field helped the 'Cats keep the inning going as Illini right-fielder David Hendrickson dropped a flyball hit by Kyle Ruchim. After Jack Livingston was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Nick Linne got NU right back in the game by ripping a single to right-center that plated two to get the Wildcats within 5-3.
Anderson was on his game, though, and that would be the last time Northwestern would be able to dent the scoreboard. Farrell settled in after the rough start and faced just two over the minimum from the third through seventh innings, including putting Illinois down in order in the sixth and seventh.
The Illini loaded the bases with one out in the eighth when the Wildcats brought Ruchim on in relief of Farrell. The freshman right-hander was able to keep it a two-run game, getting a comebacker for a forceout at the plate and a flyout to right to keep the deficit at two.
However, NU managed just a two-out double from Livingston in the ninth in its last two at-bats as Illinois was able to even the series at a game apiece. The Illini got one final insurance run in the top of the ninth to account for the final margin.
Farrell (4-2) took the loss, surrendering nine hits, five runs and three walks while striking out two over 7 1/3 innings of work. Stevens led the Northwestern offense with two hits.
The teams conclude their three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!