The No. 15 Illinois baseball team completed a sweep of Northwestern for the second straight season with a 17-2 win Sunday at Illinois Field. It was eighth consecutive win over the Wildcats.
The victory was the 300th of head coach Dan Hartleb's career win. Hartleb ranks fourth all-time among Illini coaches behind Lee Eilbracht (518-395-6), Itch Jones (474-373-1) and George Huff (314-97-4).
Illinois has won fifth straight, 12 of its last 14 and improved to 24-6-1 and 5-1 in Big Ten Conference play. The Illini have won all five of its three-game series so far this season.
Redshirt-senior Reid Roper began a career day with a three-run home run in the first. Roper finished a double shy of the cycle, going 5-for-6 with four runs and three RBI. He tripled in his second at-bat and added three singles.
The Wildcats scored a run in the first and second to make it 3-2, but the Illini scored five in the third, two in the fourth, four in the fifth, one in sixth and two in the ninth for a season-high 17 runs.
Roper wasn't the only Illini having a good day at the plate, junior Jason Goldstein went 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a three-run home run of his own in the fifth. Adam Walton was 3-for-4 and hit a solo homer in the sixth.
Senior John Kravetz improved to 3-0 with five strikeouts and two walks over six innings. Death row came to the mound and shut the door: relievers Rob McDonnell, Anthony Milazzo and Tyler Jay each pitched a scoreless inning.
Sophomore Pat McInerney hit an opposite field, game-winning home run in the top of the 13th inning for a 3-1 victory in the series opener Friday. Starter Kevin Duchene proved why he's considered one of the best in the league by giving up one run on seven hits, striking out 10 and walking none in nine innings.
Roper knocked in senior Will Krug with a grounder down the third-base line for the first ever run on the new video display and scoreboard at Illinois Field. Now, there's some Illini trivia.
In game two, junior Ryan Nagle scored twice and went 3-for-6 as five Illini had multiple hits in a 11-4 win on Saturday. Goldstein had two RBI doubles and scored three runs, while Roper finished 2-for-5 with three RBI. Starter Drasen Johnson (4-2) gave up three runs on 11 hits, striking out seven and walking one over seven and one-third innings.
The Illini were visitors in the series because of renovations to Northwestern's facilities. Illinois now hold wins over Northwestern in football, men's tennis, wrestling, volleyball and two in men's basketball.
The Illini play a pair of midweek games when they travel to Eastern Illinois on Tuesday and return home against St. Louis on Wednesday.