Jordan Parr’s two home runs helped Illinois defeat Georgia Tech 6-4 in Friday’s opening game of the NCAA baseball Nashville Regional.
“I didn’t know either of them were gone,” Parr said. “I thought both of them were going to be off the wall and I was just running hard out of the box.”
The first came in the top of the fourth inning after his twin brother, Justin, led off with a single. His second was a solo shot on the first pitch of the sixth inning that made it 4-0.
Jordan Parr finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Justin Parr was 2-for-5 with one run scored and one RBI but Illinois finished with nine hits, one fewer than Georgia Tech.
“The Parr brothers definitely did some damage, but I felt like we hit some balls awfully hard that were right at them and we couldn’t quite get that two out hit with runners in scoring position,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “They kind of limited us to one run at a time it seemed like. I thought we did a good job of getting back in the game, but we couldn’t quite crack the code.”
The Illini (35-18), the region’s No. 3 seed, never trailed and improved to 27-8 this season when scoring first.
The victory earned them a matchup with top seed Vanderbilt (52-9), 7 p.m. Saturday. The Yellow Jackets were forced in an elimination game against East Tennessee State (2 p.m.).
“Any time you have a lead and you continue to add onto it, not only does it help the psyche in your dugout, but it puts doubt in the mind of the other dugout,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. “I was real proud of our offense because we got a lead and Georgia Tech began to chip away at it, but we continued to add on and put ourselves in a good position.”
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Georgia Tech (34-26) cut the deficit to two, 4-2. Zane Evans started the rally with a walk, and Daniel Palka and Brentwood native Sam Dove followed with back-to-back triples.
“It was fun because I had a lot of family and friends in the stands,” Dove said. “I think our approach will stay the same, we just have to win an extra game. We are going to need some younger pitchers to step up later in the tournament.”
Three other Georgia Tech players had two hits each.
Illinois’ starting pitcher, true freshman Kevin Duchene, threw 112 pitches in seven innings and struck out five. In some ways, though, his first NCAA tournament appearance was just like any other game.
“It seems like every start I’ve made this year one of the Parr brothers hits a home run and it is really nice pitching with a lead,” he said. “Coming into this regional, I tried to stay as down to earth as I could and told myself it is just another game.”