#15 Illinois Baseball stave off MSU rally 13-9

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John Kravetz improves to a career 21-7 record

It was wild, wooly game up in East Lansing today.  After getting off to a 7-0 lead, Illinois sustained a Spartan rally and prevailed in the last game against Michigan State, 13-9.  John Kravetz came out the winner and is now 2-0 for 2015.  He now has 21 career victories and alone in eighth place on the all-time wins list for Illini. 

The series win is the fourth in a row for Illinois and the first in the Big Ten season.  Illinois who is now ranked #15 in the nation, has a record of 20-6-1 which is the fastest they have reached that mark since 1989. 

 

Game #27 / March 30, 2015    
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Jason Goldstein

3 for 4 day for catcher Jason Goldstein

The Illini got off to nice 7-0 lead by the sixth inning thanks to a second inning rally which plated five runs.  Four straight hits started that inning.  Add in a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch plus a two-run single by Adam Walton by the end of the inning, five Orange and Blue runs had scored. 

By the bottom of the sixth, it was 7-0 but the pendulum was swinging towards Michigan State.  John Kravetz kept them at bay for five innings keeping them scoreless but their time had come.  They scored nine runs in the next three innings. 

Fortunately for the Illini, they weren’t quite done with their bats.  David Kerian and Jason Goldstein both had key hits in a three-run seventh inning.  Illinois duplicated that effort in the ninth by scoring three more when two Spartan wild pitches brought home Illini runs and Walton again drove home a run with a single. 

Tyler Jay came in the bottom of the ninth to finish off the Spartan though it wasn’t a save situation.  He did so in one-two-three fashion striking out one batter. 

 

Ryne Roper

Ryne Roper:  Two hits, two runs, and two rbis on Monday

Giving credit where its due… Adam Walton was 3 for 6 with 3 rbis.  Jason Goldstein went 3 for 4,, a double, 3 runs and 2 rbis.  Ryne Roper was 2 for 4 with a double, 2 runs and 2 rbis and Casey Fletcher was 2 for 4 with 3 runs scored. 

 

 

Random Ramblings

There is something about Illinois-Michigan State games.  In the past few days, I’ve already alluded to Casey Fletcher’s walk-off wins last year.  But what about that the 7-0 lead that MSU had back in 2007?  You know, the one that Illinois managed to come back from and win 8-7 and put them in the Big Ten Tournament??

Mini-poll watch

I mentioned this earlier but it’s worth repeating.  Illinois has gone up in most every national poll yet again.  They are ranked #15 according to D1Baseball. 

 

National Poll

Illinois’ Ranking

Previous Ranking

NCBWA

24th

26th

D1Baseball.com

15th

17th

Collegiate Baseball

22nd

18th

Baseball America

24th

25th

USA Today Coaches’ Poll

21st

22nd

 

The #15 ranking is the highest that Illinois has been since 1962 when they were ranked #11. 

 

Kravetz get his… and more

John Kravetz finally got his win.  But he also passed another milestone on Monday’s game.  He is now at career 301 innings which passes former Illini Jason Anderson for fifth place on the all-time list.

Next up

No rest for the weary.  The Illini play again tomorrow on the road.  They take on the Missouri Tigers at GCS Ballpark, the home of the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League.  Game time on Tuesday is 6:30pm. 

Go Illini!


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Illinois baseball falls to Michigan State 5-2 on Sunday

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David Kerian is currently on a 12 game hit streak

David Kerian extended his hit streak to 12 games and hit his sixth homer of the season but it just wasn’t enough for an Illini win.  The Michigan State Spartans outplayed Illinois on Sunday and won 5-2.  They handed Drasen Johnson his second loss of the season giving Illinois a 19-6-1 record for the year.

This put the series tied at one apiece and both teams looking for a series win on a rare Monday conference game.

 

Game #26 / March 29, 2015
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The Spartans just plain outhit the Illini.  While senior right hander Drasen Johnson (3-2) didn’t give up any walks in six innings, MSU got nine safeties off of him.  Michigan State’s key 3-run inning in the fifth really did the Illini in.  Four hits by the Spartans in that inning sparked the rally.

In addition to Kerian’s performance, Adam Walton continued on his formidable pace.  He contributed two hits and an rbi in the loss.  Will Krug who is fighting to get back in the lineup, hit a double in the third inning and eventually scored a run on an Adam Walton single.

Today’s game saw Rob McDonnell’s first relief appearance.  After coming in for Drasen Johnson in the bottom of the seventh, he pitched a scoreless inning.

 

 

Random Ramblings

Tomorrow will be a big test for the Illini and especially starting pitcher John Kravetz.  For one reason or another, career win #21 has eluded Kravetz for the last few weeks and this week would be a perfect time to pull that one in.

For those who haven’t seen it, The Champaign Room has done a Big Ten conference season preview.  It’s worth the read.

Next up

The rubber game between the Illini and the Spartans takes place Monday at noon in East Lansing.  John Kravetz  will be the starting pitcher.

Go Illini!


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Illinois baseball cools off Spartans in Big Ten opener 8-4

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Kevin Duchene improves to 4-1 for 2015

In probably the coldest game the Illinois baseball team has played in long, long time, they won their Big Ten opener. They defeated the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing today by the score of 8-4.

It was a brisk 25 degrees in East Lansing at the start of the game but the bats warmed up soon. The Illini offense got off to a four run lead by the third inning and never looked back.  Meanwhile, starter Kevin Duchene pitched his way to his fourth win of the season.

This gives Illinois its first all-important conference win and improves their overall record to 19-5-1.

 

Game #25 / March 28 , 2015
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Duchene’s performance was typical.  He spread out eight hits and allowed just one run and one walk over six innings while striking out five Spartans.  Watch out, John Kravetz.  Duchene now has 17 career victories and is closing in on your 20.

Every starter on the roster got in on the action today against the Michigan State pitching. Every one had a hit, run or an rbi.  Most notably, leadoff man Adam Walton scored three times while going 1 for 3 with two walks.  Matt James had a big day at the plate with two doubles and two rbis.  Also, Casey Fletcher remembered how he likes to hit against the Spartans and went 2 for 5 with two rbis.

The Spartans did make it a little too interesting after the Illini had a 7-1 lead in the seventh inning.  The Illini bullpen had to contain a MSU rally that ended up scoring three runs making the score 7-4.  Andrew Mamlic eventually got out of the inning though.  Tyler Jay was brought in with two outs in the eighth and finished out the game for his sixth save of the year.

 

 

 

Random Ramblings

IMG_1160-001.JPGI listened to most of the game on the radio which made me appreciate the fine voice of play-by-play guy Dave Loane (right).  If I can’t be there, there’s no one better at delivering the news win or lose.

Consider this… Kevin Duchene gave up one run in six innings and his ERA still went up.  Going in, his ERA was 0.67 and afterwards, it ballooned to 0.82.  Yikes!

In the sixth inning today, David Kerian had a 10-pitch at-bat.  On top of that, there were multiple throws during Kerian’s at-bat to first base to keep Casey Fletcher honest.  Kerian was walked.  It’s the little things like this that make or break a game.    Did I mention Illinois eventually scored three runs that inning?

Next up

The Illini will continue their series with the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday with Game 2.  Game time is 12pm and Drasen Johnson is scheduled to be on the mound.


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Illinois Baseball begin conference season in East Lansing

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Adam Walton leads the team in steals and is tied for the team lead in runs scored

The Illinois baseball team have had great ride up until now.  They are 18-5-1 and are ranked as high as #17 in the polls.  Throw that all out the window now because the Big Ten season starts Saturday.  Conference game are a whole new ball of wax.  Tensions are higher, wins are more meaningful and the game of baseball in the Big Ten is taken up a notch of two.

This Saturday, the Illini will begin their conference season against the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.  According to the Fighting Illini weekend preview, the pitching probables are Kevin Duchene (3-1, 0.67 ERA) on Saturday, Drasen Johnson (3-1, 1.85) and John Kravetz (1-0, 2.82) on Monday.   Kravetz, with 20 wins, will once again attempt to break free of the six-way tie for eighth place in career wins for an Illini.

 

McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field
East Lansing, Michigan

Sat. March 28

12:00 pm CT

Sun. March 29

12:00 pm CT

Mon. March 30

12:00 am CT

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Michigan State Spartans

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W-L: 11-11 Big Ten 1-2

 

The Spartans of Michigan State have played pretty even keel with their opponents so far in 2015.  They are 11-11 while slightly outscoring their opponents 93-89.  They’ve outhit them .255 to .241 while their ERA lags a bit 3.79 to 3.59.  All told, they’ve played tough though their starting three have hard luck with a combined record of 2-9.

This will be the Spartans’ second Big Ten series this season.  They took on Ohio State and won their Friday’s match then dropped the last two.  They also defeated Northwestern in an early season non-conference game 3-2.

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Look for the return this season of Spartan Cam Gibson (left), son of former MLB star Kirk Gibson.  Gibson is leading Michigan State in runs scored (17) and steals (10).

 

Random Ramblings

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May 4, 2014: Walk-off hit by Casey Fletcher leads to celebrations

In case you forgot what happened the last time the Illini played the Michigan State Spartans, this should spark your memory.  Casey Fletcher topped off his five-homer week with his second walk-off hit in two games.  Illinois defeated MSU 10-9 in ten innings and swept the Spartans.  It’s one of those games that stick in your mind.

Whaddya, think, Casey?  Got walk-off?

I am glad to see Nick Blackburn’s photo featured on this weekend preview.  With all IMG_3832.jpgpress that Tyler Jay has deservedly gotten, both he and J.D. Nielsen (right) have done a fine job in past few weeks.  Blackburn’s role has been as a setup man and he’s really gotten it done.  He’s only allowed three runs and one walk all season.  Coach Hartleb has gone to Nielsen as a short reliever to get the Illini out of some nasty jams.  So far, J.D. has allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings and has been particularly effective.

Don’t forget, the schedule is a bit wacky this weekend.  All games have been moved back one day.

Go Illini!! 


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McDonnell, Illini bats dim Kent State Golden Flashes, 9-4

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Rob McDonnell pitched five scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.14

I’m glad we got a home game in today.  This is the last of a scheduled ten-game home stand (though yesterday’s game was canceled).  The Illini made the most of it too.  Starter Rob McDonnell (2-1) pitched five shutout innings against the Kent State Golden Flashes (10-10) to get his second win.  The offense really came through with nine runs on twelve hits.  While KSU made it a little interesting toward the end of the game, Illinois won 9-4 and their record stands at 18-5-1 as they head into the Big Ten season this weekend. 

 

Game #24 / March 25, 2015    
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Matt James hits a bases loaded triple in the 7th inning

Rob McDonnell set the tone for the game and the offense followed suit.  McDonnell only allowed three hits and walked two in five scoreless innings.  He struck out four KSU batters. 

Pat McInerney got the Illini on the board with a rbi double in the first.  Illinois was helped by a KSU error and a wild pitch in the 3rd inning.  Add four Illinois hits to that and you have two more runs. 

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Jason Goldstein gets welcomed at home by Josh Ferry and David Kerian after scoring on Matt James’ triple

Illinois’ big inning came in the seventh inning when things got a little wild, literally.  Kent State walked the bases loaded then Jason Goldstein walked getting himself a free rbi.  Matt James then tripled with the bases juiced knocking in all three runners.  All told, five runs scored in the seventh inning giving Illinois a 9-1 lead. 

Things did get a little too interesting after the Golden Flashes scored two in the eighth inning then loading the bases in the ninth.  Coach Hartleb had an ace up his sleeve though.  He moved secondbaseman Reid Roper to the mound, firstbaseman David Kerian to second and Matt James to first. 

Roper got the three outs needed with a hit interspersed.  Only one more Kent State run scored on a sac fly.  

 

 

Random Ramblings

You can find photos from today here

David Kerian at second base.  Hmm, what kind of thought went into that with capable second basemen on our bench?  Well, I’m not the coach of a #17 ranked team so I won’t question it.

 

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Will Krug steals his 7th base this season

Good to see Will Krug have a good day as a starter.  He went 2 for 3 with a run scored.  At .214, he is now batting above the above the Mendoza line.  The same could be said for Ryan Nagle who had a slow start this season.  He’s finally gotten into the groove.  He had 3 hits today and finds the second spot in the lineup suits him.  If he’s not getting a hit, he’s finding other ways on base (11 BB this season). 

Next up

The Big Ten season is almost here!

In case you missed it, there’s been a change in the schedule for the upcoming Michigan State series this weekend.  Long story short, the games have been pushed back a day with games being played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 

Saturday, March 28 – Noon CT
Sunday, March 29 – Noon CT
Monday, March 30 – Noon CT

More details on the Fighting Illini website.


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Krug’s CLASS candidacy shows his total student-athlete qualities

IMG_2036-001Congratulations to Will Krug for his candidacy in the Senior CLASS Award.  The CLASS Award is devoted to those who excel on and off the field and who epitomize the total student-athlete.  CLASS which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, recognizes student-athletes who stand out as leaders. 

Here is Will Krug’s CLASS profile.

Admittedly, Krug, a civil engineering major, has had a pretty rough 2015 season on the field so far.  He’s batting .194 and has missed a few starts.  I’ve watched Will during these past few games though and his attitude hasn’t changed despite the rough start.  In those games that he hasn’t started, he has found a way to help his team from helping the left fielder warm up between innings or be available as a pinch runner or pinch hitter.  He’s always in the game and won’t give up. 

IMG_6997-001I personally think it’s just because Krug wants to be part of game so much that he can’t let it go.  It’s not in his nature to sit on the dugout bench and just let the game happen. 

To top it off, Krug is a very approachable player and represents the team and the University of Illinois in a positive fashion to the fans. 

Congrats again, Will Krug!  An award well deserved! 


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No Illinois baseball game Tuesday

Tuesday’s baseball game after initially being delayed a few hours has been cancelled due to impending weather

I’m glad I decided to check this afternoon before coming in.  “Why would they cancel it?”.my wife asked me.  “It’s starting to look nice out.” 

Indeed, there always reasons.  I don’t pretend to know why.   No makeup game against Illinois State has been scheduled. 


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Duchene wins Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors after keeping Bulls at bay

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Three years. Three career Pitcher of Week honors for Kevin Duchene… and the season is still young.

Kevin Duchene was awarded the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award for his fantastic effort last Friday against South Florida on Friday.  In seven innings, he allowed just two hits did not give up an earned run while striking out eight batters in Illinois’ 13-1 win over the Bulls. 

This gives Duchene a 3-1 record and a team-leading 0.67 ERA among qualifying pitchers.  He won his first Pitcher of the Week honor as a freshman against Penn State (he also won Freshman of the Week at the same time) in 2013.  He won his second award in his sophomore year against a tough Florida team in 2014.  This week’s is his third honor. 

No pressure, Kevin but keep it comin’! 


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Poll Watch: Illinois Baseball inching upwards at #17

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After a grueling 2-1 series win against the University of South Florida Bulls team plus a midweek win versus Lindenwood-Belleville, the Fighting Illini (17-5-1) find themselves slowly moving up in the polls… again.  In three of the five major national polls, they moved up.  Baseball America kept them at #25 where they were last week.  Only Collegiate Baseball took them down a notch from #18 to #22. 

The Illini’s highest ranking is D1Baseball.com’s #17 spot.  That’s the highest that Illinois has been since the dark ages… okay, 1990 really. 

Here is the full list of polls and where Illinois is placed:

 

National Poll

Illinois’ Ranking

Previous Ranking

NCBWA

26th

27th

D1Baseball.com

17th

18th

Collegiate Baseball

22nd

18th

Baseball America

25th

25th

USA Today Coaches’ Poll

22nd

24th

 

The Big Ten has other representatives in the polling.  D1Baseball ranks Maryland at #11 and Indiana at #19.  Both of those teams had conference games last weekend, by the way.  You can see the conference standings here.  Long story short:  Maryland and Nebraska are off to 3-0 starts and Michigan and Northwestern are both 0-3. 

Illinois begins their Big Ten season this weekend at East Lansing against Michigan State.


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Illinois drops Sunday game to USF Bulls 8-5

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First loss… and first runs allowed this season

Put away the brooms.  Today just wasn’t going to happen for the Illini. 

Despite coming back from a four run deficit, Illinois (17-5-1) lost to South Florida (16-8-1) in ten innings 8-5 on Sunday at Illinois Field.

 

Game #23 / March 22, 2015    
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Five earned runs charged to John Kravetz

It was probably a humbling day for Illini pitching. 

Starter John Kravetz (1-0) who had given up just seven runs all season, allowed five in the third inning alone.  More incredibly, Tyler Jay (4-1) who hasn’t seen a run cross the plate yet in 2015, gave up three runs in the 10th inning.  Jay also suffered his first loss of the season in today’s game. 

 

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Reid Roper made it close in the fifth with a 3-run homer

That’s not to say there weren’t positives to take away from today’s game.  Casey Fletcher continued his clutch hitting by getting the Illini off to a good start.  His base knock drove home a run in the first inning giving Illinois an early lead.  Down 5-1 in the fifth inning, the Illini battled back.  With two runners on, Reid Roper hit a three-run homerun to bring Illinois to within one run, 5-4.  It’s Roper’s third homer of the season and he now has 19 rbis which leads the team.  In the bottom of the eighth, David Kerian tied it with a rbi single.

 

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Relievers J.D. Nielsen (left) and Nick Blackburn (right) have been pretty solid lately for the Illini.  Today was no exception.  They combined for three scoreless innings giving up one hit each. 

 

 

Random Ramblings

I have photos posted.  You can find them here

USF Bull brother duo Levi and Luke Borders were big contributors to the victory over Illinois.  They combined to go 8 for 10 with 5 rbis.  If you’re wondering, they are indeed the sons of former MLB catcher Pat Borders. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not down on either Kravetz or Jay.  An off game was bound to happen to one of our starting pitchers sooner or later.  And let’s be real, how long did we really think Tyler Jay was going to keep a scoreless streak going?  I was watching Jay pretty closely today and even in between giving up his five hits, he was fooling USF hitters in the worst way. 

Wow!  Take a look at this Indiana-Penn State boxscore from today.  Penn State who can only boast a 4-14 record, came back from a 7-0 deficit to beat #21 Indiana 13-7.  Eight errors by IU probably didn’t help.

In other news, the Big Ten season has started in faraway places.

Next up

Speaking of the Big Ten season, Illinois will begin their Big Ten series in East Lansing next weekend.  First though, they have two midweek games scheduled. 

The rest of campus is on spring break but the Illinois players will be here in town to take on Illinois State on Tuesday at 4pm and Kent State on Wednesday at 3pm.  Both games will be at Illinois Field.


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