Castellanos evens Big Ten series
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois catcher Jason Goldstein will have to forgive Ryan Castellanos for being unaware of the standard protocol between batterymates immediately following a victory.
After Castellanos had retired the final Purdue batter Saturday to seal the Illini’s 6-2 Big Ten baseball win, Goldstein jogged to the mound to congratulate the sophomore right-hander on his complete-game performance.
“I didn’t know what to do exactly,” Castellanos admitted afterward. “Jason came up to me and told me, ‘You’re supposed to shake the catcher’s hand.’ ”
The winning pitcher’s excuse? He’d never been in precisely this situation before.
“I’ve never finished a game,” Castellanos said.
“Maybe when I was 12 or 13; peewee (baseball) or whatever,” he said.
In his 19th appearance and 12th start for Illinois, Castellanos checked that item off his to-do list on a chilly, windy, overcast day at Illinois Field.
Pitching into and out of several early jams, Castellanos eventually hit his stride and shut out the Boilermakers over the final five innings to help the Illini (13-11, 1-1 Big Ten) even the series with Purdue (5-17, 1-1) at one win apiece.
“(The complete game) was a big milestone for me,” said Castellanos, whose previous longest outing at the UI was 7 1/3 innings. “But more importantly, I feel I was able to finish the game. Nine innings doesn’t take a toll on my arm. I felt good, and I feel like I could go out there and pitch another (inning) if needed. That’s the biggest thing.”
Castellanos (3-1) threw a nine-hitter, and he definitely didn’t scatter them. In four different innings, Purdue rapped out two hits — and in each case they were back-to-back.
“If you were to tell me I was going to finish the game early in the game, I would tell you you’re crazy,” Castellanos said.
But the Davie, Fla., native found ways to minimize the damage. In the second inning, the Boilermakers had runners at second and third with one out but were limited to one run.
In the fourth, a run-scoring wild pitch by Castellanos allowed Purdue to take a 2-1 lead. Then a fielding error by shortstop Adam Walton and a sacrifice bunt put Purdue runners on second and third with one out.
Castellanos wriggled out of that dilemma, too, with no further scoring.
“He’ll give up some hits, but he did not panic,” UI associate head coach Eric Snider said. “He’s never really panicked.”
Castellanos’ teammates picked him up at the plate, scoring twice in the fifth to give Illinois its first lead of the game at 3-2. On Michael Hurwitz’s RBI double, a second run scored when Purdue left fielder Jack Picchiotti bobbled the ball.
Then Illinois added three more runs in the seventh, including one on a triple by Will Krug, to give Castellanos some breathing room.
And no surprise, the Illini right-hander did not walk any of the 38 batters he faced. Castellanos has yet to issue a base on balls in 27 innings this season.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “But I throw strikes.”
AT THE PLATE
Illini shortstop Adam Walton had two more hits, giving him five in the first two games of the series and extending his hitting streak to six games. The sophomore is hitting .571 (12 for 21) during the streak.
IN THE FIELD
Will Krug was a busy guy in center field for Illinois, recording six put-outs. The junior’s most impressive play came in the first inning, when he raced in and angled left to make a diving catch on a liner by Jack Picchiotti.
Sophomore left fielder Ryan Nagle, who had started every Illini game this season, did not play due to illness. “Sore throat, had a temperature of about 100, so we sent him home,” UI associate head coach Eric Snider said. Pat McInerney started in Nagle’s place and went 0 for 3 with a walk, but in his last at-bat the freshman crushed a pitch to left field that was knocked down by the wind at the warning track.
Illini head coach Dan Hartleb remained in the Cincinnati area Saturday to be with his father, who is hospitalized. The elder Hartleb was in stable condition Saturday, according to Snider, who indicated that Dan Hartleb might return to Champaign for today’s game.
Illinois plans to send redshirt junior left-hander Rob McDonnell (1-0, 2.89 ERA) to the mound for Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale. Purdue had yet to announce a probable starter by Saturday. McDonnell, who will make his third start of the season, has struck out 13 in 91/3 innings.