After the Illini were eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament last week I wrote about how the Illini had lost because the middle of their order had deserted them. Well, that wasn't the case on Friday in Nashville.
Jordan Parr homered twice and Justin Parr had two hits of his own as the Parr brother combined to go 4-for-10 with two homers, 4 RBI and three runs scored. When you get that kind of production from the heart of your lineup good things tend to happen.
Particularly when your pitching does a solid job of keeping a potent offense in check. Kevin Duchene went seven innings and allowed only three runs, though he did work his way out of serious trouble in the sixth inning. In the top of the sixth the Illini offense failed to take advantage of three walks, leaving the bases loaded and wasting a chance to blow a 4-0 game wide open. Georgia Tech responded with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth that featured back to back triples and two runs.
Georgia Tech second baseman Thomas Smith would homer with one out in the seventh to cut Illinois' lead to 4-3. It was the first home run Kevin Duchene had allowed all season, but he'd work his way around it and get out of the inning.
The Illini would then tack on a few insurance runs in the eighth thanks to four singles and a sacrifice bunt.
Tech would get a run back in the bottom of the inning against Ronnie Muck, but Bryan Roberts came on in the ninth and worked his way out of trouble after walking two, as the game ended with Daniel Palka -- he of the 17 home runs this season -- lining out to David Kerian at first base.
Which means that the Illini move on to face the winner of tonight's game between Vanderbilt and East Tennessee State on Saturday night at 7pm.
Also, I'd like to point out that Georgia Tech did not start its ace this afternoon, Buck Farmer. Instead the Yellow Jackets went with Dusty Isaacs, who allowed 4 runs in 5.1 innings. Yes, it seems that Georgia Tech manager Danny Hall felt his team could beat the Illini with a lesser pitcher and that he wanted to save Farmer for Saturday against Vanderbilt.
So kudos to the Illini for shoving that strategy right up Hall's ass.