Illini Cruise Past Purdue in Series Opener

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 CHAMPAIGN (via FightingIllini.com) -- In front of a capacity crowd at Illinois Field, the 12th-ranked Illini pounded Purdue 10-5 for their first eight-game winning streak since 2011. Illinois treated its sixth-largest crowd (2,843) in school history to 13 hits and three home runs on Saturday. UI continued the best start in program history, improving to 27-6-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten.

"We had quality at-bats early and showed a lot of power today," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We didn't chase many pitches and forced them to throw strikes in key situations. It's been a very productive lineup from top to bottom. We didn't pitch great, but came up with key outs when we needed them."

The Orange and Blue scored a season-high five runs in the first inning for the second time this week. Junior Ryan Nagle, who finished a triple short of the cycle, went 3-for-5 with three runs, a home run and two RBI. He extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games with a double in the first after leadoff man Adam Walton walked on four pitches.

Reid Roper plated Walton with a sacrifice fly for the first run, while senior Casey Fletcher, who equaled a career-high four hits, knocked in Nagle with an RBI single after junior Jason Goldstein put runners on the corners with a single. Sophomore Pat McInerney crushed a three-run homer to left center for a quick 5-0 advantage.

Nagle hit his first home run with a two-run shot to right in the second for a 7-0 edge. After Purdue pushed across its lone run against starter Kevin Duchene in the third, UI responded with two more runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.

Reid Roper equaled his career-high fifth home run with a two-run blast to center, marking the fifth time the Illini have hit three homers in a game this season. Redshirt-sophomore Zack Kolakowski, who saw his first career action at third base, brought home Illinois' final run with an RBI groundout.

Duchene picked up his team-high fifth win with six strikeouts over six innings, continuing his streak with at least five punch outs in all seven starts this season. He scattered eight hits and only walked one. The Big Ten Pitcher of the Week boasts the No. 2 ERA (0.75) in the NCAA to go along with 53 strikeouts and four walks.

The bullpen took over on the mound in the seventh, as the Boilermakers tallied three runs along with an unearned run in the eighth. Sophomore Cody Sedlock notched the final four outs of the game without giving up a hit.

The Illini offense has been red hot during its eight-game winning streak, totaling 100 hits, 79 runs and 11 home runs. For the season, UI ranks second in the Big Ten with 31 home runs behind Maryland (32).

Up Next: No. 12 Illinois will play Purdue in game two of the series on Sunday at noon live on the Big Ten Network.

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