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Illinois Baseball: No. 15 Illini win first Big Ten series at Michigan State

Illini become fastest team in program history to reach 20 wins since 1989.

Starter John Kravetz improved to 2-0 on the season and 21-7 in his career Monday.
Starter John Kravetz improved to 2-0 on the season and 21-7 in his career Monday.
Courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Adam Walton drove in three runs, including some insurance in the ninth as the No. 15 Illinois baseball team outlasted Michigan State, 13-9, in the series finale Monday in East Lansing, Mich. at McLane Stadium.

Jason Goldstein and Ryne Roper drove in two runs each as Illinois (20-6-1) took two of three from the Spartans for their first Big Ten series on the season. It was the fourth straight series win for the Illini, who also became the fastest team in program history to reach the 20 win mark since 1989, who reached the same feat in 25 games.

Before the game, Illinois moved up two spots to No. 15 in the D1 Baseball poll, marking the highest ranking since finishing the 1962 season at No. 11 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

Starter John Kravetz improved to 2-0 on the season and 21-7 in his career Monday. Kravetz gave up four earned runs on six hits, striking out four and walking one over six and one-third innings. He is now fifth all-time in Illinois history with 301 career innings and eighth all-time in wins.

Illinois jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second with four straight singles then Roper drove in Casey Fletcher and was capped by Walton's two-run single.

A bases-loaded double play in the fourth and Goldstein's RBI double in the fifth plated two more Illini runs. The Spartans finally got on the board in the sixth with two runs, but the Illini answered with three of their own.

Michigan St. pulled within one, 10-9, with seven runs over the next two innings with three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth.

Illinois started the series with a 8-4 win behind junior start Kevin Duchene, who allowed one run over six innings, while junior closer Tyler Jay punched out the final four batters for the save. In game two, the Illini fell 5-2 to the Spartans, who tallied 11 hits. Starter Drasen Johnson gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings for his second loss of the season.

Illinois is ranked in all six baseball polls: No. 15 in D1 Baseball, No. 20 by Perfect Game USA, No. 21 by USA TODAY Coaches' Poll, No. 24 by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and No. 25 by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

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