BEAUMONT, Texas – Senior John Kravetz shined in his season debut and didn’t allow a hit until the eighth inning, as Illinois led wire-to-wire in its 8-1 win over Lamar (1-1). UI began the year 3-0 for the first time under 10th-year head coach Dan Hartleb, while the last time the Illini won their first three games of the season was 2003.
“The pitching staff has been outstanding,” Hartleb said. “They have been the story of the weekend so far. John Kravetz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and J.D. Nielsen came in from the bullpen to close it. It was a good offensive day and they broke it open in the ninth inning.”
Kravetz retired the first 11 Cardinals, who didn’t have a base runner reach until an error in the fourth inning. The Lansing, Illinois, native did not allow a walk and faced one over the minimum through seven innings. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for the second time in his career, but a solo home run broke up the shutout.
Kravetz allowed two hits in a start for the third time in his career, as he did so twice as a freshman in 2012. He struck out four over 7.2 innings with a productive 78 pitches.
Junior J.D. Nielsen entered the 3-1 game with two outs in the eighth and earned his first career save by recording the final four outs on 14 pitches. The Illini offense exploded for five runs of insurance in the ninth inning.
Senior David Kerian continued his hot start at the plate with an RBI single to put the Illini on the board in the fourth. Redshirt-senior Reid Roper, who went 3-for-5 with three RBI, made it 3-0 with a two-run triple in the fifth.
Illinois’ bats came alive for six hits in the ninth, giving the Orange and Blue 15 base knocks for the game. Sophomore Pat McInerney led off the stanza with the first home run of the season, crushing a bomb to left field.
Reid Roper tacked on an RBI single, while senior Will Krug, who was 3-for-4, stole his fourth base of the year and later scored on a wild pitch. Junior Jason Goldstein drilled a two-run homer to left for the final runs of the game.
The Illini pitching staff boasts a 0.96 ERA after three games, only allowing four runs and 10 hits while registering 25 strikeouts. The offense is hitting .324 with 17 runs scored.
Up Next: Illinois will wrap up the Cardinal Classic on Sunday at 11 a.m. against host Lamar at Vincent-Beck Stadium.