Ruggeri, Maestas pace gymnasts
CHAMPAIGN — Paul Ruggeri won three individual titles and C.J. Maestas two, lifting Illinois' men's gymnastics team to a 355.100-341.300 victory against Ohio State on Friday night at Huff Hall.
Ruggeri claimed crowns in vault, horizontal bar and all-around, and Maestas was victorious in floor exercise and rings.
In women's gymnastics:
Kentucky edges Illinois. The Illini, behind Alina Weinstein and Kelsey Joannides, won five individual titles, but Kentucky won the meet 195.950-195.750 on Friday night at Huff Hall.
Weinstein claimed the vault (9.875) and uneven parallel bars (9.850), and Joannides was victorious in balance beam (9.925) and all-around (39.250).
Amber See tied for first in floor exercise (9.850) for the Illini.
Illini blank Red Storm. Starting pitcher Kevin Johnson tossed seven shutout innings and reliever Ronnie Muck had two perfect innings, leading Illinois to a 4-0 victory against St. John's on Friday in the first game of the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Johnson (1-1) yielded seven hits and three walks, but he induced four double plays.
The Illini (4-4), who have won three consecutive games, posted their first shutout against a Division I opponent since Johnson led the team to a 7-0 victory against Purdue on May 15, 2010, at Illinois Field.
"I'm really pleased with how we played today," UI coach Dan Hartleb said. "We played very, very well in all three phases. There's a long way to go, but I'm pleased with the progress we've made in the last few weeks. Kevin did a very good job on the mound today. He threw good pitches in tight situations and fielded his position well, which produced a few more outs for him. Offensively, we jumped on them early and found a way to push across a few more runs later in the game. I thought we took good swings throughout the game."
Shortstop Thomas Lindauer went 3 for 4 with two runs, and first baseman Jordan Parr drove in two runs in the victory.
Illinois splits. First baseman Meredith Hackett went 4 for 4 with three RBI, leading Illinois to a 4-3 victory against New Mexico State on Friday at the Eller Media Stadium Classic in Las Vegas.
Hackett homered for the Illini, who collected eight hits. Right fielder Jess Perkins went 1 for 3 with an RBI in the victory.
Winning pitcher Pepper Gay (5-2), who struck out seven, scattered six hits in seven innings.
"I think again, with this team, the finish today shows how it responds," UI coach Terri Sullivan said. "It was key for us to score first and score in the first inning (against New Mexico State). Meredith started out the game with the home run and had a great offensive performance, and we needed that from her today. Pepper was disappointed in her relief appearance against Florida Atlantic (in the opener Friday), but she came back and shut down a tough hitting and offensive-minded team in New Mexico State. I think the performance against New Mexico State was key to showing our toughness and our fight to the finish today."
In Illinois' first game Friday, an 8-5 loss to Florida Atlantic in eight innings, Jenna Mychko went 3 for 4 with five RBI. Losing pitcher Jackie Guy (2-6) struck out 10.
In men's tennis:
Nevolo sets pace. Fourth-ranked Dennis Nevolo won 6-2, 6-4 in his No. 1 singles match against Nebraska's Christopher Aumueller, and No. 18 Illinois went on to a 6-1 victory against the host Cornhuskers on Friday.
Roy Kalmanovich, ranked 21st nationally, rallied to defeat Nebraska's Benedikt Lindheim 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 at No. 2 singles.
"It was a tough match," Cornhuskers coach Kerry McDermott said. "We got beat by a better team. We kind of dug ourselves in a hole by losing the doubles point, and then they just overpowered us in the bottom of the lineup."