NCAA Champaign Regional taking shape

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On Monday, the regional pairings were announced for the NCAA Baseball Championship and Illinois received a #6 overall seed, their first ever in school history.  Among others, the teams were announced that are going to play in the Champaign Regional on May 29th-June 1st. 

The Fighting Illini have brought up 2015 Baseball Tournament Central for this weekend. Keep an eye on that for all news regarding the regional’s happenings. 

 

Champaign Regional

 

#1 seed


Illinois Fighting Illini

47-8-1
#2 seed

nd
Norte Dame Fighting Irish

36-21

#3 seed

wtst
Wright State Raiders

36-17

#4 seed

ohio
Ohio Bobcats

36-19

The Fighting Illini break down the Champaign Regional in their announcement.  They also include a link for tickets (hint, hint… get some and come out this weekend!). 

The schedule is out too… as much as it can be.  Regional top seed Illinois will be taking on #4 on Ohio Bobcats at 7pm Friday.  Here is the full schedule:

Friday, May 29
Game 1: #2 seed Notre Dame (36-21) vs. #3 seed Wright State (41-15), Noon
Game 2: #1 seed Illinois (47-8-1) vs. #4 seed Ohio (36-19), 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 30
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, Noon
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Sunday, May 31
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, Noon
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.

Monday, June 1
Game 7 (if necessary): Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 1 p.m.

It’s a banner year for Big Ten teams in the NCAA Championship bracket.  Not only is it Illinois’ first time being named as a national seed but as Chris Webb notes on B1GBaseball.com, the Big Ten’s five nominations far exceeds its past successes in the NCAA postseason.  This year, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa will join Illinois for the quest for Omaha. 

Here is the full interactive NCAA bracket

The boys were all together to watch the NCAA Selection Special today. 

If you hadn’t noticed, many of the ballplayers have shorn their locks.  They have apparently decided that since the win streak is over, they can go back to the ‘clean’ look. 

Wrapping up the Big Ten Tournament

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Before too much time is passed, I want to recognize the performances of John Kravetz (above) and Ryan Nagle at the Big Ten Tournament.  They were both named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team.  Nagle batted .375 and scored four runs while Kravetz pitched a complete game shutout. 

Congratulations, Ryan and John!

 

Now if you haven’t gotten your tickets for this weekend, order them now.  Rumor has it, they are going quick. 


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Illinois to host NCAA Regional May 29th-June 1

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The long wait is over.  After weeks of projections and previews, the NCAA has officially announced that Big Ten Champions Illinois will play host in the Champaign Regional.  On May 29th-June 1, the Illini will host a Regional at Illinois Field.

Directly from the Twitter account of NCAA Baseball:

 

This is Illinois’ 11th NCAA Regional appearance but the very first time that they will actually host a Regional.

The Champaign Regional is one of sixteen national Regionals around the country hosted by the best college baseball teams in the nation in 2015.   Each Regional will field four teams and will conduct a double elimination tournament. 

According to NCAA.com, the cities and corresponding teams hosting a Regional are:

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana – LSU (48-10)
  • Champaign, Illinois – Illinois (47-8-1)
  • College Station, Texas – Texas A&M (45-11)
  • Coral Gables, Florida – Miami (Fla.) (44-14)
  • Dallas, Texas – Dallas Baptist (43-13)
  • Fort Worth, Texas – TCU (43-11)
  • Fullerton, California – Cal State Fullerton (34-22)
  • Gainesville, Florida – Florida (*43-16)
  • Houston, Texas – Houston (42-18)
  • Lake Elsinore, California – UC Santa Barbara (40-15-1)
  • Los Angeles, California – UCLA (42-14)
  • Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville (43-16)
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Vanderbilt (*42-18)
  • Springfield, Missouri – Missouri State (45-10)
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma – Oklahoma State (37-18)
  • Tallahassee, Florida – Florida State (41-19)

A side note:  Congrats to former Illini associate head coach Eric Snider who is now at Louisville.  His Cardinals are also hosting a regional.

Those of you who are interested in attending the Champaign Regional should head on over to Fighting Illini’s NCAA Regional page.  There’s all kinds of information there including a link to order tickets. 

Who will the Illini face at the Champaign Regional?  That is still up in the air but we will find out Monday morning at 11am.  The entire 64-team field will announced on ESPNU by NCAA Baseball  and will be spread via Twitter or Facebook as well. 

Congratulations to the Illinois Baseball program!!


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Loss to Michigan drops Illinois from B1G Tourney

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David Kerian homered and drove in two runs in Illinois’ loss

The Illini gave a great effort at the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis but their chance for a tourney championship came to an end at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines. 

After a lights out performance on Friday night by John Kravetz shutting out the Michigan State Spartans, Illinois advanced to the semi finals.  On Saturday though, errors hurt the Illini again as all five Michigan runs were unearned.  Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian drove in a run early in the game and in the sixth homered to put them ahead.  An error-laden sixth inning put Michigan up for good and Illinois lost 5-3. 

Winner Michigan will advance to take on Maryland in the Championship game on Sunday. 

 

 

Game #55 / May 22, 2015    
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2

  0

 

john kravetzOn Friday, Illinois rebounded from their loss against Maryland with a stifling shutout  win versus the Michigan State Spartans.  The ball was handed to senior starter John Kravetz for his most important assignment to date and he exceeded expectations. 

Kravetz who had never pitched past the eighth inning all year, went the distance against the Spartan offense for his first career complete game.  The numbers on Kravetz:  9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 

John Kravetz didn’t strike out many batters on Friday but instead was incredibly efficient all night.  He induced a lot of early outs and didn’t go deep into the count very often.  In fact, when the night was done, he had only thrown 92 pitches. 

Illinois’ two runs came in the third inning.  With two outs, a costly Spartan errors and two walks Adam Walton and Ryan Nagle on the in scoring position for Jason Goldstein.  Goldy’s single drove home both runners to put the Illini up 2-0 and that’s exactly where the score stayed for the rest of the game. 

John Kravetz’ win gives him a 5-0 record for the year and lowers his ERA to 3.32. 

 

 

 

Game #56 / May 23, 2015    
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5

  3

 

IMG_5133-001No doubt, it was a solid effort by starter Rob McDonnell.  However much like the first game of the tournament, Illinois was a victim of their fielding.  A two-out error in the second inning led to two runs.  In the sixth, two more errors contributed to three runs by Michigan.  The line on McDonnell is good 5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.  The one stat he would love to take back is the ‘L’. 

Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian gave a performance worthy of the title.  He drove in a run in the fourth with a double to bring Illinois within one, 2-1.  Later in the sixth, he solo homered to put Illinois ahead 3-2. 

Ryan Nagle (right) who continues to be productive, got two hits and drove in a run. 

 

 

 

Random Ramblings

donn pallCurious trivia:  Bryan Pall, the pitcher who won Saturday’s game for Michigan, is the nephew Donn Pall, former Illini pitcher and MLB reliever for the White Sox. 

All in all, still a very solid performance by the Illinois baseball team.  By this time, Illinois fans have higher expectations so when we see our team lose two games in three days, we wonder.  That’s just the nature of late season tournaments.  It would have been nice to see the Illini roll on through without missing a beat and still on their streak.  That’s in the past though and they have bigger things to be concerned about. 

Regardless, winning two games and lasting into the semis in the Big Ten Tournament is a great accomplishment.  I’ve gone to my share of Tourneys and seen some teams (Illinois included) go home on the second day.  The fact that Illinois did this on eight runs in four games makes it that much more amazing.  Kudos to the pitching staff.

Here is the updated tournament bracket sadly with no Illinois in the Championship rung.  Note the change in time for Sunday’s Championship game between Michigan and Maryland.  Check out more info at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Central

So what’s next for the Illini?

Illinois are dropped from the Big Ten Tournament but the action doesn’t stop now.  Because of their phenomenal season, they almost assuredly will be going on to the NCAA Regional.  In fact, they are in the running to host the Regional here at Illinois Field.  The official announcement of Regional hosts will be made on Sunday night at 7:30pm.  Keep an eye on the NCAA’s Twitter and Facebook pages or tune in to ESPN around 8pm for all the details.  Regional pairings will be announced on Monday at 11pm. 

And don’t forget, Fighting Illini has their own NCAA Regional page… you know, just in case.

Great job, Illini!!


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Streak ended but Illinois is back to business against the Spartans

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Two hits and an rbi for Jason Goldstein in Round two at the Big Ten Tourney

It finally happened.  It had been almost two months since Illinois had lost game but on Thursday night at the Big Ten Tournament, costly errors contributed to a 2-1 loss to the Maryland Terrapins.  The Terrapins got a gutsy start from their freshman pitcher, Brian Shaffer and Illinois’ starter Drasen Johnson put in a good performance himself.

After the loss, I was heartened to see this from Willie Argo:

 

Keep in mind this is the same Willie Argo who was the very competitive centerfielder for the Illini.  Keeping things in perspective. 

 

 

Game #54 / May 21, 2015    
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2

  1

 

Quite simply, errors hurt the Illini.  Three singles by Ryan Nagle, Reid Roper and Jason Goldstein gave them a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning.  Illinois gave it right back and more when two errors in the top of the second contributed to a two-run Terp inning.  Overall, the Illini made a season-high three errors. 

Both starters pitchers were on their game.  Maryland freshman pitcher Brian Shaffer struck out seven and gave up the one run.  Drasen Johnson also struck out seven while his two runs were unearned. 

J.D Nielsen made an appearance, relieving Johnson.  He gave up a hit and a walk but struck out two Terps and was not scored on. 

Key moment of the game: With the bases loaded and just one out, Cody Sedlock came on to pitch.  With just one pitch, he induced a ground ball double play to Ryne Roper.  That gave Illinois a little momentum and had Illinois won, we’d be seeing that play on the highlight reel a lot more.

 

Next up

The Illini are already thinking about their next opponent, the Michigan State Spartans.  They will take them on Friday night at 7:30pm.  Fighting Illini has the game preview up.  John Kravetz (4-0, 3.76 ERA) is on the hill.  

While Maryland was a relatively unknown quantity (Illinois hadn’t played them since 1970), we certainly are familiar with the Spartans.  In fact, before last night, Michigan State was the last team to beat Illinois on March 29th.  Don’t think that Illinois can’t defeat them though.  They did win the overall series 2-1. 

 

Random Ramblings

Don’t look now but Tyler Jay is one of 21 semi-finalists in the USA Baseball Golden Spikes award

IMG_0710J.D. Nielsen (left) apparently has had experience with winning streaks before.  His father Dan tells me that J.D.’s high school team, Martensdale-St. Mary’s (IA), holds the national record for consecutive wins.  His team had an incredible winning streak of 87 games.   During that time, they won three state titles.  I’m sure that experience is helping J.D at this time. 

Dave Loane, if you’re reading this, I want you to know, I tried.  I watched BTN2go but tried listening to Dave on AM1400 while muting BTN’s volume.  The Big Ten Network’s commentators are just fine but I really do prefer listening to Mr. Loane’s voice.  Unfortunately, BTN was a delay and it didn’t quite synchronize.  I gave it a shot. 

Here’s a quick look at who’s in and who’s not at the Big Ten Tournament.  After yesterday’s action:

Game 5: No. 6 Indiana 5, No. 7 Ohio State 3
Game 6: No. 5 Michigan State 9, No. 8 Nebraska 7
Game 7: No. 3 Michigan 8, No. 2 Iowa 5
Game 8: No. 4 Maryland 2, No. 1 Illinois 1

As of this writing, # 7 Ohio State and #8 Nebraska are out of the tournament.  #4 Maryland and #3 Michigan have yet to lose a game.  #1 Illinois, #5 Michigan State, #6 Indiana and #2 Iowa are still alive. 

Here is the updated tournament bracket.  Check out more info at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Central

Let’s go, Illini!!


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Illinois take comeback game to B1G Tournament, notch 3-2 win versus Cornhuskers

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Pat McInerney drove in the winning run in Illinois’ first game of the Big Ten Tournament

Top seed Illinois hit the Big Ten Tournament and won like they’ve won all year.  Pitching well and never giving up.  In the feature game in the opening day of the tournament, Illinois came back from two runs down and defeated the #8 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers 3-2 thanks to a game winning hit by Pat McInerney. 

Reliever Nick Blackburn (3-0) earned the win and Tyler Jay vindicated his Big Ten Pitcher of the Year award by notching his 13th save, tying the school record. 

The Illinois baseball team (46-6-1) is now on a 27-game winning streak best in the NCAA for the 2015 season. 

 

Game #53 / May 20, 2015    
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3

  2

 

IMG_1678Kevin Duchene and Nebraska’s Chance Sinclair were locked in a pitchers’ duel for quite a while in tonight’s game.  For five full innings, no team scored.  Once the sixth inning hit though, it seemed like both offenses got the okay to start.  Nebraska plated two off Duchene in the top of the inning on back-to-back doubles plus a base hit. 

Key moment:  With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth inning, Duchene forced a fly out and struck out the last batter.  He was demonstrably excited after that third out. 

Illinois didn’t wait long to tie the game.  Ryne Roper, Ryan Nagle and Reid Roper all singled to score a run and Jason Goldstein added one more with a sacrifice fly. 

Blackburn came in to pitch in the seventh and got Illinois out of a little jam.  He then pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Then it was the Illini offense time to finish the job. 

IMG_5133-001In the Illini eighth inning, it was Ryan Nagle (right) again who singled followed by a Reid Roper walk.  Jason Goldstein bunted them over to second and third.  Casey Fletcher was intentionally walked which in hindsight was probably still a wise move.  However, Pat McInerney wanted to win and drove home Nagle on a single to right.  That proved to be the winning run. 

With a one-run lead, Coach Hartleb wasn’t taking any chances.  He brought in Tyler Jay.  Wise move.  Jay got the Huskers out 1-2-3 for the save. 

 

 

Random Ramblings

According to the Big Ten Network, the Illini win today breaks yet another record….

“A 3-2 victory over Nebraska in the opening round of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament gave the Illini their 27th straight win this season, which marks the longest winning streak by a Big Ten baseball team in conference history. “

It’s amazing what this team has accomplished this year! 

Other scores today at the Big Ten Tournament:

Game 1: No. 3 Michigan 4, No. 6 Indiana 1
Game 2: No. 2 Iowa 3, No. 7 Ohio State 2

Here is the updated tournament bracket after today’s games.  Illinois will play a late 9pm game Thursday against the winner of the Maryland-Michigan State game happening tonight (Michigan State is up 1-0 in the 3rd inning as I write this). 

Check out more info at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Central

Keep it up, Illini!!


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Make some room on the mantle… Illinois sweeps Big Ten awards!

On the day before the Big Ten Tournament begins, the Illinois dominated the annual conference awards in a B1G way.  Three of the major individual awards went to the Orange and Blue. 

 

Big Ten Player of the Year – David Kerian

  • Avg: .383
  • HR: 13
  • RBI: 45

Firstbaseman Kerian led the Big Ten in hitting, homeruns, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.  He helped the Illini down the homestretch with two B1G POW awards in April.  

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   IMG_5014

Big Ten Pitcher of the Year – Tyler Jay

  • ERA: 0.67
  • W-L: 5-1
  • IP: 54
  • K: 62

Jay was practically untouchable all season.  In fact, he was scored on in just two games. Led the Big Ten in ERA, Opposing BA (.161), and least runs and walks allowed among qualifiers. 

 

Big Ten Coach of the Year – Dan Hartleb

  • Overall record: 45-6-1
  • Big Ten record: 20-1
  • 26 game winning streak
  • Reached 300 win mark
  • #2 national ranking

Dan Hartleb was the man who put it all together.  Last year was his best conference record at 17-7… until this year’s 20-1 mark obliterated that.  The 2015 Illinois team broke so many school records at so many levels, it’s hard to fathom.      

coach hartleb

 

The individual awards aside, Illinois did incredibly well with the All-Big Ten team honors.  In all, eleven Illini were chosen. 

 

All-Big Ten First Team

 
C- Jason Goldstein (right)
1B- David Kerian
SS- Adam Walton
OF- Casey Fletcher
SP- Kevin Duchene
RP- Tyler Jay
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All-Big Ten Second Team

 
SP- Drasen Johnson (right) IMG_7785-001

 

 

All-Big Ten Third Team

 
2B- Reid Roper
OF- Ryan Nagle (right)
DH- Pat McInerney
SP- John Kravetz
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Will Krug was deservedly named as the Illinois Sportsman Award Honoree.

Read the full press release from the Big Ten with the full list of those honored this year.

Congratulations to all of the Illini award winners!! 

Big Ten Tournament play is upon us!

The Big Ten Tournament begins tomorrow!  Top seed Illinois (45-6-1) takes on the Huskers (34-21) tomorrow night at 5pm.  Fighting Illini has a preview up.  Kevin Duchene (10-1, 1.19 ERA) is on the hill for the good guys. 

Tournament Bracket


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Kerian wins fourth Illini B1g Player of the Week in as many weeks

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Kerian hits homerun #13 on Friday

David Kerian has gone and done it again.  He’s just won his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor of the season.  Not only that, it’s the fourth straight POW award for the Illini and the the fifth one this season for the team.  With the four Big Ten Pitcher of the Week awards this year, Illinois has an amazing total of nine honors in the 2015 team. 

It shouldn’t be too surprising.  Winning 26 games takes some hitters with talent…

  • April 7 – Jason Goldstein
  • April 27 – Casey Fletcher
  • May 4 – David Kerian
  • May 12 – Jason Goldstein
  • May 18 – David Kerian

no to mention their arms too…

  • Feb. 16 – Rob McDonnell
  • March 9 – Tyler Jay
  • March 23 – Kevin Duchene
  • April 7 – Kevin Duchene

It was par for the course for David Kerian who is making a strong case for Big Ten Player of the Year.  He now leads the Big Ten in hitting (.383), homeruns (13) and slugging (.661).  This past weekend, he helped Illinois defeat Nebraska two straight games.  He hit his latest homerun on Friday while going 3 for 4 extending his hitting streak to 17 games. 

The 10-9 win over the Huskers also extended Illinois’ winning streak to the 26 games, the longest in the nation. 

Congrats David!


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Poll Watch: Illinois holds on to #2 ranking

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Now the regular season is over and the postseason can begin.  That begins with the Big Ten Baseball Tournament at Target Field in Minneapolis. 

As usual, the polls come out on Monday.  With a two-game sweep of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten Champs Illinois (45-6-1) can only improve.  The higher rank they achieve the harder it is to improve on their position.  Illinois did gain a few spots particularly with a #2 ranking with Perfect Game (up from #3) while maintaining their #2 spot with Collegiate Baseball

Overall, Illinois is ranked #5 or better in all major national polls and have improved their national RPI ranking to #10

Take a look at where Illinois is ranked this week: 

 

National Poll

Illinois’ Ranking

Previous Ranking

NCBWA

4th

5th

Perfect Game

2nd

3rd

D1Baseball.com

5th

5th

Collegiate Baseball

2nd

2nd

Baseball America

4th

4th

USA Today Coaches’ Poll

5th

5th

 

Other Big Ten teams ranked: 

  • Iowa (38-14) is ranked #21 by NCBWA, #22 by D1B, #18 by PG, #15 by CBB, #19 by BA and #21 by USAT

Maryland (36-20) dropped out of the rankings this past week. 

Other notables:

Once again, LSU (46-9) is ranked #1 by all major polls. 

Now that the Big Ten conference season is over, top seed Illinois will take on Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis on Wednesday.  Game time is 5pm. 


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Congrats to the Illini Senior Class of 2015!

This past weekend on campus has been crazy with graduation ceremonies happening.  Before Saturday’s game, eleven Illini senior baseball players were recognized for their time with the team.  They even took some time out from their busy schedule to reflect on the past few years

I don’t have to tell Illinois fans that the amount of talent that is leaving with this large group is scary big.  They will all be missed. 

Here’s to the Illinois Baseball Senior Class of 2015!

 

Josh Ferry
2012-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Casey Fletcher
2014-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Drasen Johnson
2011-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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David Kerian
2012-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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John Kravetz
2012-2015
Fighting Illini bio

john kravetz

 

Will Krug
2012-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Rob McDonnell
2011-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Anthony Milazzo
2012-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Trevor Murphy
2014-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Kelly Norris-Jones
2011-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Reid Roper
2011-2015
Fighting Illini bio

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Guys, I know your season isn’t over yet but good luck in the future whatever it holds.  Thanks to you all of you for your contributions!! 


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#2 Illinois enters Big Ten Tournament as top seed

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Casey Fletcher rips a double before the rains came

The weather prevented #2 Illinois from finishing their regular season on Saturday.  Down by a run In the fourth inning of their last match against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, there was a downpour and after a delay of over 2 1/2 hours, the game was cancelled and all results nullified from the records.  The ensuing comeback was never going to happen.  The game will not be replayed.  . 

Never fear, the Huskers and the Illini will face each other soon.  Now that the Big Ten season is over, the Big Ten Baseball Tournament bracket is out and top seed Illinois will be taking on the Huskers at 5pm Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis.  You can find more information at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Central.

Illinois (45-6-1) finishes the regular season with their 26-game winning streak intact and a 20-1 conference record easily good for first place.  Illinois’ win streak is now tied for the all-time longest in conference history with Nebraska (1983).

But first, it was a late game last night.  Let’s recap Friday’s game…

 

Game #52 / May 15, 2015    
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Ryan Nagle knocks out a 3-run HR in the fourth inning

Weather played a big role in Friday’s game as well.  After a 2 1/2 hour rain delay, the first pitch finally commenced at 8:41pm.  Like the weather, the game was a wild one. 

I suppose you could break the game up into three phases.  The first three innings, Illinois and Nebraska kept pace with each other with the Huskers taking a 4-3 lead.  Innings 4-6 belonged to the Illini who scored seven unanswered runs and putting the game out of reach (supposedly) at 10-4.  Then in innings 7-9, the Huskers came back with five runs of their own forcing the entrance of Illini reliever Tyler Jay once again. 

IMG_0559Offensively, the Illini got the job done with the long ball.  Four balls left the park courtesy of the Orange and Blue.  Ryan Nagle, David Kerian (left), Reid Roper and Will Krug all went yard.  

Drasen Johnson won his 9th game of the year giving up three earned runs in six innings.  Tyler Jay notched his 12th save of 2015. 

 

 

Random Ramblings

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Photos from last night win are here.  I also posted my photos from today’s rainout.  If you look at those photos you know that downpour must have come on fast.  It was such a nice day till it hit.

Gotta give Rutgers some credit from coming back from last Sunday’s 28-13 defeat to Illinois.  This weekend the Scarlet Knights who haven’t beaten a Big Ten team since April 4th, took two games from nationally-ranked Iowa.

IMG_9028 

It’s a no-brainer but David Kerian should be on the Big Ten’s short list for Player of the Year.  As of today, he leads the conference in homeruns (13), batting average (.383), slugging average (.661), on-base percentage (.467), and coolest-looking headband. 

Next up

It will be Nebraska again for Illinois.  The players will travel to Minneapolis’ Target Field for the Big Ten Tournament next week.  The 8th seed Cornhuskers are first up according to the Tournament bracket

Good luck in the Tournament, Illini!!


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