Big Ten Records Book now updated

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Drasen Johnson gets listed in the Records Book for leading the Big Ten in strikeouts in 2014

Admittedly, there isn’t a lot that goes on news-wise with Big Ten baseball in between the Orange and Blue World Series in the Fall and the Hot Stove Banquet in January.  This year is a bit different with the team’s November incredible trip to the Dominican Republic (more on that soon). 

However, one thing to break the monotony of the off-season for the fans is the conference’s annual release of the Big Ten Records Book.  For hard core Big Ten sports geeks, it’s a lot of fun, full of history and information to digest.  All Big Ten sports are represented including of course, Baseball. 

What does the Records Book include for Big Ten Baseball fans?  A lot.  That includes:

  • A wrap-up of the 2014 season
  • Standings for every year (beginning 1896)
  • Career, yearly, and game records for both conference and non-conference games
  • Big Ten Tournament results and Tournament records
  • Award and All-conference selections

Again, it’s chock-full of fun info.  And yes, this guy is still there:

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You can find the Big Ten Records Book online at the Big Ten website

Here is the link to the Baseball section.


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Photos of Game 3 of Illini Baseball Orange and Blue Series

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Anthony Drago takes a cut in Game 3 of the Orange and Blue Series on Friday

Friday was third and final game of the Orange and Blue Fall Ball World Series.  What a beautiful day it was for baseball!  The late afternoon game with temps hovering in the low 80s with bright sunshine makes you wonder if a fall schedule isn’t such a bad idea. 

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Ryan Castellanos

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Rob McDonnell

Rob McDonnell made the start for the Blue Team and Ryan Castellanos was on the bump for the Orange Team.  McDonnell who had an especially good summer in the Northwoods League, looked good only giving up one run.  The Blue Team got on top in the third scoring three runs. 

IMG_8897The Orange Team pecked away at the lead though, scoring two in the sixth and one more in the seventh, giving them a 4-3 lead. 

The big story was the closer of the game, redshirt freshman Doug Hayes.  Word around Illinois Field is that Hayes is a new walk-on that Coach Hartleb is giving a try.  He pitched the ninth for the Orange Team and got the job done.  It may just be one inning for Doug (seen right, congratulated by Nick Blackburn) but it was a big test and he survived.

More photos from Game 3 at the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery

My thoughts on Illini baseball team going into the off-season

I don’t like jinxing the team with false hopes so I won’t be overly-optimistic.  However, it seems that Coach Hartleb may have nice problem on his hand.  Too much pitching.  Consider this:  the starters now include established hurlers Kevin Duchene, John Kravetz and Drasen Johnson.  Now throw in Rob McDonnell who is on top of his game after a great summer plus Ryan Castellanos who is an experienced starter for the Illini. Not only that, there are rumors that Tyler Jay may be making a move to the starter role.  

Coach Hartleb may need to think outside the box to resolve this pleasant problem that has presented itself. 

IMG_8675We saw plenty of #8 Ryan Haff (left) during this week’s series.  He was playing second base and hitting the ball hard too.  While we certainly have a plethora of players who can play that position, a shift to shortstop for Adam Walton is a possibility if Hartleb wants to greenlight Haff for 2015. 

The biggest general observation for 2015 is that this team really hasn’t lost a lot from last year’s squad that went 32-21 and 17-7 Big Ten.  A lot of those young players from last year have developed their skills.  In short, this 2014-15 team has a lot of potential as long as they stay HEALTHY!

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Rumor has it that the Illini Dugout Club has reserved the date of January 24, 2015 for the annual Hot Stove Banquet.  Mark your calendar!  I went for the first time last year and had a blast. 


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Photos of Game 2 of Orange and Blue Series

Got out to the ballpark and saw the last half of Game 2 of Illinois baseball’s Orange and Blue Series today. 

Here are some photos.

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Catcher Grey Schultz glad hands pitcher Josh Ferry

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Our first look at freshman righthander Quinten Sefcik.

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Jason Goldstein shows he can play first base with this play.

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Will Krug is kept close at first base.

It was good to see old friends at the ballpark.  Lots more photos here at the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery.

Rumor has it that Rob McDonnell will be making a start on Friday for the Blue team. 

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In other news, congratulations to former Illini Kevin Johnson who made his pro first start in over a year.


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Orange and Blue Series this week!

Stop on by Illinois Field this week to watch the Illinois baseball team play in the annual Orange and Blue Series.  Today was Game 1 and according to @Illinois Baseball on Twitter, Orange topped Blue 4-3 on a David Kerian walk-off hit. 

If you’re interested in going, there will be two more games.  The next will be on Wednesday and the last will be on Friday.  Both games will start at 4 pm.


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Former Illini Roark helps Nats clinch NL East

Tanner RoarkAny question as to former Illini Tanner Roark’s ability to pitch under pressure has now been put to rest.  Roark’s win for Washington Wednesday night clinched the NL East for the Nats with an 87-63 record.  He did it in style too, pitching seven shutout innings and not allowing a single walk.

MLB.com’s wrap-up of Roark’s win on Wednesday

Roark is now 14-10 with a 2.85 ERA.  His 14 wins is tied for the team lead.  There has been some question to Roark’s role once the Nats get to the postseason.  My guess is that the Nationals will go with what got them this far and he’ll continue to start.  ESPN has an interesting take on the question. 

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In other news, two current Illini were listed as ranked prospects in their respective summer leagues.  Kevin Duchene tops out at #19 for his work in the Cape Cod League and Tyler Jay checks in at #8 with Team USA.

Congrats to both! 


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Illini Baseball team takes practice at Illinois Field this week

This week, the Illinois baseball team have been practicing out at Illinois Field.  On Thursday afternoon, I took off work early and observed the guys in action. 

While I was there, I snapped a few shots. 

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I was especially interested to see this person.  This is newly installed assistant Coach Spencer Allen.  He has big shoes to fill but I can already tell I’ll like his style.  He’s got energy and will bring some excitement to this team. 

 

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Looks to me like catcher Jason Goldstein is giving David Kerian some tips on bunting. 

 

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Gate?  Who needs a gate?  Champaign native Grey Schultz leaps the fence with ease after chasing an errant ball. 

 

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Maybe it’s me but Charlie Naso looks like he trimmed up over the summer. 

 

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Fearless Leader.

 

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Kevin Duchene got some time on the mound…

 

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…and Kerian got practice fielding bunts. 

 

More photos from Thursday’s practice at the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery.  I’m starting a new gallery for the 2014-2015 season.  You can see my entire Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery which goes back to 2005 here

Also, in case you missed it, the Illinois Baseball roster has now been updated on the Fighting Illini website.


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Former Illini catcher Davis joins Gators coaching staff

Lars DavisUniversity of Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan announced the appointment of Lars Davis as volunteer assistant coach of the Gators baseball team.  Davis is of course, a former Illini catcher and was named Big Ten Player of the Year back in 2007. 

A native of Canada, Lars Davis (shown right at the 2007 Big Ten Tournament) was drafted in the 3rd round in 2007 by the Colorado Rockies.  Since then, he’s played for the Rockies, Phillies and Diamondbacks organizations. 

Lars has to be pretty excited about this opportunity.  Florida is a recognized baseball powerhouse and is consistently ranked highly nationwide.  At the end of this past season, they were ranked 25th in the nation. 

Good luck, Lars!


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Fall semester is here and so is a new banner

It’s the fall semester now at the University of Illinois. As is the tradition with the Illinois Baseball Report this time of year, I’ve replaced the banner photo with up to date photos (and players!).  I do put some thought into who goes up top but it’s certainly not a scientific formula.  I tend to rotate players when I can and try to get a mix of hitters and pitchers. 

For reference, here’s the photo you all saw for the last year:

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The new banner photo has the current Illini from left to right:

First, starter Drasen Johnson who had a solid 2014 with a 2.91 ERA.  Here’s hoping for better offensive support for him in 2015. 

Reid Roper who is my only repeat from last year.  Given his performance with the Rochester Honkers this summer, I’m expecting big things from him in the spring.

Tyler Jay had a fantastic summer with Team USA and came home with plenty of hardware for his mantle. 

Casey Fletcher really showed off what he could do with his bat towards the end of the 2014 season for the Illini.  I’m looking for more of the same. 

Finally, I’m looking for Rob McDonnell to have a breakout year for the Illini.  He went 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA for the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League.  Like Roper, that may translate to a great spring. 

 

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Rumor has it from management that individual practice for Illini Baseball has already started this past week.  They may start practice on Illinois Field as early as next week.  Keep an eye on the Fighting Illini web site or on this site for a scheduled date for the intrasquad Orange and Blue World Series this fall. 


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Tyler Jay makes MLB.com prospects list

Tyler JayIllini reliever Tyler Jay was listed as one of Team USA’s top prospects by MLB.com’s Jim Callis yesterday. 

Says Callis:

“Undrafted in 2012 as an Illinois high school senior who topped out at 90 mph, he now has a fastball that peaks at 97 and sits at 93-95 mph, even when he works on consecutive days. Jay isn’t physical at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, but he’s very athletic and has a very quick arm.”

Callis’ praises are well deserved.  Jay didn’t allow a single earned run in 16 2/3 innings in Team USA action this summer.  He did strike out 21 batters though.  For the summer, Team USA went 18-8-2 with Tyler’s help.

Looking forward to seeing some more of that in the spring, Tyler!


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Reid Roper awarded Honker of the Year

IMG_4282This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Reid Roper’s summer up in Rochester but it has recently been announced that he has been named “Honker of the Year” by his summer league team the Rochester Honkers.

Not only did Roper become the Honkers’ all-time leader in hits, walks, rbis and games, he also topped the entire Northwoods League record in at-bats with a total of 783 career at-bats.

He topped off his final year with Rochester with a walk-off homerun in his final game against St. Cloud. 

Rochester team website had some glowing words about our Illini representative: “A legendary career makes him one of the most deserving Honker of the Year winners ever”.

Congratulations, Reid!!

Other news around the summer leagues

B1G Baseball reports that Kevin Duchene put in a pretty impressive performance over the weekend for his Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League.  Kevin pitched a “Duchene-esque” game allowing just one hit and striking out 12 against the Orleans Firebirds in the East Division semi-finals.  With the win, the Red Sox go on to the finals. 

Duchene is 4-3 with a 2.88 ERA this summer. 

Robby McDonnell has had quite a year for the Northwoods League’s Madison Mallards. His seven wins ranks tied for second among all pitchers.  He’s 7-3 with a nifty 3.29 ERA.

The Northwoods League is now in heat of its playoffs, by the way. 


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