EAST LANSING, Mich. — A win is important to the Illinois baseball team at this juncture in the season.
Making sure Justin Parr continues his hitting streak is just as noteworthy.
Both scenarios were accomplished on Saturday in Big Ten play. Illinois beat host Michigan State 7-3 behind a four-run eighth inning. And Parr managed to increase his school-record streak to 30 games, which ties the longest in the nation this season. Parr, who walked twice, finished 1 for 2. His RBI single to center field in the eighth inning gave Illinois a four-run cushion and kept the hitting streak watch alive for another day.
“It was nice to see Justin extend his streak,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. “He did something positive to help the team, so it was awesome to see him bring home that fourth run (in the inning) and get to 30 games.”
Illinois (28-14, 9-9) received four innings of shutout relief from Ronnie Muck (3-0) in place of starter Kevin Duchene and Reid Roper shut down the Spartans (25-14, 8-6) in the ninth to give the Illini — who are back in a tie for sixth in the Big Ten with Michigan — a chance to win the three-game series today.
“I was pleased with our pitching overall,” Hartleb said. “Kevin gave us a solid start, and Ronnie did an outstanding job in long relief. It was good to get Reid back on the mound, and he looked sharp.”
David Kerian (1 for 3) and Michael Hurwitz (1 for 4) each drove in two runs while an RBI double by Davis Hendrickson (1 for 3) broke the 3-all tie in the eighth.
“It was a tough game (Saturday), and the rally we had in the eighth inning was huge,” Hartleb said. “It really shows our team’s character to see our guys rebound from the loss (Friday) and get a hard-fought win.”
Illinois will host Ohio State in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Sunday after rain postponed Saturday’s game.