Illinois trying to keep hope alive against Iowa

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Time to have some fun, boys!!

So this is it… the last series of the regular season.  Illinois baseball will host fifth-place Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Field for an early weekend series which begins on Thursday at 6pm. 

An 8th place finish is necessary to move on so Illinois’ current 11th place standing seems quite dire.  However with some good baseball and a little luck, there is a chance that the Illini can still eke out a tourney bid. works out all the magic with the numbers and scenarios in this article.  The first hurdle?  Illinois needs to win at least two games this weekend against Iowa (if you want a fun read, read’s Big Ten Baseball Tournament Tie-Breaker Procedures).


Stats of note

Fighting Illini weekend preview


Pitcher probables


  • Thursday  Ty Weber: 2-6, 5.16 ERA
  • Friday  Cyrillo Watson: 3-4, 5.92 ERA
  • Saturday  Matthew James 1-1, 5.15 ERA  

The starting three of Ty Weber, Cyrillo Watson and Matt James all had solid, if not perfect outings last weekend.  Unfortunately, Illinois’ young bullpen while performing admirably for most of the conference season, just ran out of gas.  

Watson did garner a victory in Game two last Friday and improved his record to 3-4. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Thu. May 18

6:00 pm CT

Fri. May 19

6:00 pm CT

Sat. May 20

1:00 pm CT


Iowa Hawkeyes



W-L: 32-18 B1G 13-8


 My take on the Hawkeyes:  As someone who grew up on the western border of Illinois, I have always seen the Hawkeyes as a bitter rival in Big Ten sports.  This year, their baseball team really produced results.  Not only do they have an overall 32-18 record but their 13-8 has already clinched a Big Ten tourney berth.  They even have a shot at the conference but as an Illini fan, I’m not even going to consider that. 

The big elephant in the room is Jake Adams who leads the Big Ten with a whopping 21 homeruns and 59 rbis. For a while there, he and Illini Pat McInerney were neck and neck in the HR race but Adams pulled away from the rest of the Big Ten.

Starter Nick Gallagher is having a light-out year too.  In 12 starts, he is 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA. 



Random Ramblings

2017 IllvsMarylandFri-217Hometown fans, this is your chance!  It’s the last series of the year to see the Illini in play at Illinois Field.  Get out to the ballpark! 

If you need more incentive other than good baseball, there will be plenty of promotions this weekend. lists them all here.  If you want swag, come out Thursday night.  It sounds like they are cleaning out their closets of their older memorabilia!! 

The famous Bleacher Bum BBQ will be on Friday night starting at 5pm.  Free BBQ for the first 500 fans!  Friday is also Lou Boudreau Night recognizing the 25th anniversary of the uniform number retirement of Illinois baseball’s most famous player.  While you are at the park this weekend, take the opportunity to read the plaque dedicate to Mr. Boudreau. 

Friday night’s events will conclude with fireworks. 

Saturday is Senior Day which will recognize the contributions of Illinois seniors Anthony Drago, Trent Hammond, Matt James, Zack Kolakowski, Pat McInerney and Grey Schultz who have all played an important part in the baseball program in the past four years.  Senior Day is always an emotion-filled moment each year and a great way to recognize these players that have given so much. 

See you at the ballpark!!

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Rutgers next up for Illini Baseball

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Jack Yalowitz hits at a .347 pace

After a critical series win against #24 Maryland last weekend, Illinois travels to New Brunswick, New Jersey to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.  Rutgers (17-28, 5-10 Big 10) currently inhabits twelfth place in the Big Ten two spots below Illinois. 

Illinois is on a 15-8 streak and has won three of their last four conference series.  With a series sweep this weekend, Illinois could attain a overall .500 record. 

There is still a very real possibility that we could see a Big Ten Tournament berth for the Orange and Blue. breaks down the scenarios and the numbers here in their Big Ten Baseball Standings Update

Make note of altered schedule this weekend.  Because of graduation Rutgers’ graduation ceremonies on Sunday, two games will be played on Friday and one on Saturday.  Game one on Friday will begin at 11am. 

Stats of note

  • Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in DP/game with 1.13
  • Jack Yalowitz  .347 (6th in Big Ten), 11 HR (4th), .619 SLG (3rd)
  • Pat Mcinerney  14 HR (2nd in Big Ten), .584 SLG (4th)

Fighting Illini weekend preview


Pitcher probables

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  • Friday  Ty Weber: 2-6, 5.24 ERA
  • Saturday  Cyrillo Watson: 2-4, 5.59 ERA
  • Sunday  Matthew James 1-1, 5.04 ERA  

The coaching staff is sticking with what works.  Granted, Ty Weber had a rough outing last Friday but I’m convinced the talent is there.  It easy to forget that it’s a freshman we’ve been sending to the mound every weekend. 

As for Cyrillo Watson (above)and Matt James, they just need to build on their success.  Watson had the best game of his young career last Saturday.  Allowing just one run on five hits in seven innings, Watson earned that win against #24 Maryland. 

James pitched well too on Sunday giving up two runs in six innings.  The exciting walk-off win went to closer Joey Gerber who is now 2-0. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Bainton Field
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Fri. May 12

11:00 am CT

Fri. May 12

2:30 pm CT

Sat. May 13

12:00 pm CT


Rutgers Scarlet Knights



W-L: 17-28 B1G 5-10


 My take on Rutgers:  The illini won’t admit it but they have to be thinking it.  Facing 17-28 Rutgers, this is the weekend to beef up the wins column. This is time to do it too as Rutgers is on a 1-5 stretch getting swept by Nebraska last weekend. 

No team is a sure thing though. Senior outfielder Mike Carter helps the offense with a .348 batting average and a team-leading 31 rbis.  Tom Marcinczyk leads the Scarlet Knights with seven homers. 

The Illini can hope to feast on Rutgers’ pitching.  They have the highest ERA in the Big Ten with a 6.15 mark. 



Random Ramblings

It’s hard to believe we’re looking at the same bullpen that we started with this season. The young arms are developing at a rapid pace.  That is so apparent even in this last weekend’s series.  For the three games. relievers gave up just one run and  five hits in ten innings.  Their performance was key in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s wins against a very tough Maryland team. 

The bullpen’s improvement has shown a marked difference too.  Eleven of Illinois last 14 wins have been decided by three runs or less.  I’m no Dan Hartleb but I know that a good bullpen matters in close games. 


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One of those relievers, Ryan Schmitt, is featured in a Fighting Illini article highlighting all freshmen and their accomplishments.  Schmitt has racked up four wins and that is encroaching on the all-time Illini record list.  He needs one more victory to make the top ten. 

Other freshmen mentioned are Ty Weber who is already sixth in innings pitched, Michael Massey who needs one more homer to crack the top ten in homers and three more rbis to make that list.  Four frosh pitchers, Weber, Watson, Schmitt and Ryan Thompson all have chance at the top ten Illini in strikeouts too. 

The freshmen are getting some good experience this year and are steadily developing.  The future really bodes well for the Illini! 

Go Illini!!

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Illini baseball enter homestretch against #24 Maryland


Critical Massey: Trying for 15 games straight

Illinois baseball is returning home after a lengthy eight-game road trip to attempt a Big Ten comeback.  The Illini will be hosting first place Maryland (30-13, Big 10 13-5) this weekend at Illinois Field for three games. 

On a current 13-7 winning stretch, the Illini are hoping to qualify for a Big Ten Tournament berth with just three weekends left.  At 5-10 in the Big Ten, they are now in 10th place in the conference.  They are eyeing Michigan State (7-8) who occupy the last tournament spot at 8th place. 

Freshman Michael Massey will be trying to extend his hitting streak to 15-games.  With another good weekend, he could win his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. 

Friday’s game begins at 6pm. 

Stats of note

  • Michael Massey 14 multi-hit games this year
  • Jack Yalowitz .101 total bases (2nd in Big Ten)

Fighting Illini weekend preview


Pitcher probables

  • Friday  Ty Weber: 2-5, 4.34 ERA
  • Saturday  Cyrillo Watson: 1-4, 6.35 ERA
  • Sunday  Matthew James 1-1, 5.35 ERA  

Matt James is coming off his first win last Sunday.  Both Ty Weber and Cyrillo Watson got no-decisions last weekend.  With his win in relief, Ryan Schmitt is now the unlikely team leader in victories with four. 

Zak Devermann has been called from the pen lately. He made three appearances in the past week and has thrown 2 2/3 perfect innings.   

A quick summary of the weekend…


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. May 5

6:00 pm CT

Sat. May 6

3:00 pm CT

Sun. May 7

12:00 pm CT


Maryland Terrapins



W-L: 29-13 B1G 13-5


 My take on Maryland:  Maryland is the team going into the homestretch of the conference season.  With a 13-5 Big Ten record, they are the favorites to win the crown. 

The Terrapins rank third in ERA with a 3.67 mark and fifth in hitting with a .278 batting average.  Only one team has more homeruns than Maryland’s 43 in the Big Ten.  The good news is that it is Illinois with 45. 

While Maryland has done extremely well at home at 18-1, they have struggled on the road with a 7-10 record.  Illinois hopes that trend will continue. 



Random Ramblings

It feels like it’s been raining all week but as I write this on Thursday evening, it is starting to clear up.  With a little luck, Friday’s big game may have nice weather.  Despite that, some of the fun promotions planned for Friday are going to be postponed till Illinois’ series against Iowa on the weekend of May 18-20.  This includes the Bleacher Bum BBQ, Lou Boudreau Day and fireworks,


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I had the pleasure of Lee Zerrusen’s company for lunch earlier this week.  Lee who pitched for the Illini from 2008-2011, was one of the nicest Illini players I’ve ever encountered.  That’s him mowing down the Northwestern Wildcats in 2010.  He now uses his people skills as the Coordinator of Student, Alumni, and Corporate Relations for the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.  As two people who support the students and staff of the University, we enjoyed talking about University goings-on as well as the ins and outs of Illinois baseball. 

See you at the ballpark! 

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Streaking Massey giving Illini an edge, series win over Gophers


To think at the beginning of the season, I was unsure of Illinois’ situation at second base.  With the departure of Michael Hurwitz last year and no heir apparent, it seemed like a hole that needed filling. 

Well, Michael Massey has filled that hole admirably.  With six hits during Illinois’ double header against Minnesota, Massey extended his hitting streak to 13.  Not only that, he’s starting another kind of streak.  He was honored with the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award for the second week in a row.  With a 10 for 19 performance with four runs and three rbis, he has become the first Illini to win the award in successive weeks. 

The timing was perfect.  Massey’s big bat came in handy against the Golden Gophers on Saturday when the Illini swept the doubleheader giving the good guys the series win.  Combined, the Illini scored 23 runs on the day.

Michael Massey wasn’t the only Illini swinging a slick willow.  Saturday, Jack Yalowitz homered in both games.  He drove home eight runs combined going 5 for 11.  Bren Spillane hit a grand slam in Game 2 and had five rbis on the day. 

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Some Illinois hurlers had a good day on Saturday too.  In game 1, Cyrillo Watson spread out six hits over 4 2/3 innings for just one run.  Ryan Schmitt (above) got the win and if you can believe it, he is the team leader with a 4-1 record. 

It’s hard to believe but Matt James got his first win.  In game 2, he only game up one run in six frames.  The bullpen of Ryan Thompson, Zak Devermann, and Joey Gerber was this close to perfect giving up only one hit in 3 innings.  With a 14-run lead, Gerber doesn’t get a save, sorry. 

Next up


Illinois takes on rival Southern Illinois at Itchy Jones Field on Tuesday.  I hope the Illini players know the significance of that name.  Before Dan Hartleb, there was Coach Itch Jones (above) who eventually coach at Illinois and became one of the winningest coaches of all time.  You can still see him in attendance at Illinois baseball games. 

This weekend, Illinois entertains Maryland at Illinois Field for three games.

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Illini continue road trip against Minnesota this weekend


Freshman Michael Massey is on a hitting tear

The Illinois baseball team continues its lengthy road trip by traveling to the University of Minnesota.  The Golden Gophers (24-12, 8-4 Big Ten) are hosting the Illini who were swept by the Purdue Boilermakers last weekend in a conference series. 

Illinois (16-22, 3-9 Big Ten) will play second place Minnesota three games this weekend.  Friday’s game time is 4pm CT.  Note that there is a schedule change.  Instead of a Sunday game, there will be a doubleheader starting at 1pm. 

Illinois came back to win their midweek game against Bradley 8-6 on Tuesday. 

Stats of note

  • Michael Massey 11 for 21 in last five games
  • Joey Gerber 6 saves, 2.77 ERA and .194 opp. BA
  • Jack Yalowitz .team leading 332 batting average and 32 rbis

Fighting Illini weekend preview


Pitcher probables

  • Friday  Ty Weber: 2-4, 4.03 ERA
  • Saturday Game 1  Cyrillo Watson: 1-4, 6.94 ERA
  • Saturday Game 2  Matthew James 0-1, 6.06 ERA  

We’re looking at the same three pitchers as last weekend’s rotation… with hopefully better results for the Illini. 

Honestly though, Ty Weber, Cyrillo Watson and Matt James didn’t do too bad against Purdue considering the series sweep by the Boilermakers.  Between the three of them, they gave up six runs in their starts. 

Don’t tell Cyrillo but he’s still listed as an OF-RHP on the Fighting Illini roster. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Siebert Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fri. April 27

4:00 pm CT

Sat. April 28

1:00 pm CT



Minnesota Golden Gophers



W-L: 24-12 B1G 8-4


 My take on the Golden Gophers:  Frankly, the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Minnesota is that their logo looks like an upside down “W”.  That “W” could stand for “wins” since this has been a good year for the Golden Gophers.  At 24-12, they stand at second place in the Big Ten only behind Maryland.

The Gophers’ pitching is solid behind Lucas Gilbreath (4-0, 2.55 ERA) but the Gophers’ real strength lies in their offense.  While they’re not blessed with tremendous power, they put the bat on the ball.  At .291, they are second in the conference in hitting behind Michigan.  Luke Pettersen leads the crew with a .339 batting average.   



Random Ramblings

The Illini came through with an exciting win against the Bradley Braves on Tuesday.  The offense rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to take the lead for good.  This game had pretty much everything including a double steal with Mark Skonieczny stealing home.  It was Skony’s first career stolen base.


The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week isn’t resting on his laurels.  Michael Massey went three for five against Bradley.  Massey is 11 for 21 in Illinois’ last five games.  I’m thinking he doesn’t want to give that award up. 

And yeah, he plays pretty good defense too. 

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Ryan Schmitt (above) got the win on Tuesday by pitching 1 2/3 perfect innings.  That’s his third victory of the year tying him for the team lead in wins with Cole Bellair and Quinten Sefcik.  Strange season when our team is winning late and getting wins for the bullpen.  Joey Gerber has six saves now after closing down Bradley on Tuesday. 

The May 5-7 series against Maryland has plenty of promotions to whet your appetite.  The immensely popular Bleacher Bum BBQ will be on May 5.  It has historically been the most attended game of the year.  Free food (if you get there on time)!! 

Also on Friday May 5th is Lou Boudreau Day!  As a big baseball buff, I’m looking forward to this! 

And finally, Fighting Illini baseball have just unveiled new uniforms that will be worn on the sixth annual “Honor and Serve Day” which is May 7th’s game against Maryland. 

These jerseys will be auctioned off after the game on May 7th to benefit a local charity.  The baseball program has raised over $34,000 in the past five years to help local charities in the area. 

Go Illini!

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Illinois takes success on the road to Purdue this weekend


Mark Skonieczny bares his teeth as he legs out a triple

Baseball is great.  Winning is even better. 

After starting the season 6-16, Illinois baseball is starting to find its groove.  In their last twelve games, they won nine.  That includes a 2-1 series win over Northwestern last weekend and lopsided 13-3 victory over Western Michigan during our midweek game on Tuesday.

Having concluded their long homestand, Illinois will take to the road for eight games.  This Friday, they face the Purdue Boilermakers (19-18, 6-6 Big Ten) in West Lafayette.  Friday’s game begins at 5pm. 

Stats of note

  • Illinois 38 team HR (2nd in Big Ten)
  • Jack Yalowitz .367 batting average (5th)
  • Pat McInerney 11 HR (2nd)

Fighting Illini weekend preview


Pitcher probables


  • Friday  Ty Weber: 2-3, 3.95 ERA
  • Saturday Cyrillo Watson: 1-3, 7.76 ERA
  • Sunday  Matthew James 0-1, 6.75 ERA  

With his strong performance last weekend, Matt James above gets asked back for a repeat performance.  James didn’t get the win on Sunday but he put in a good start against the Wildcats.  In his first five innings, he only gave up one run. 

Cyrillo Watson got pretty roughed up last Saturday (10 runs in 3 plus innings) but considering his previous success, Coach Hartleb is willing to give him another try. 

While there was no way Ty Weber was going to get a win with the game going into extras (thank you, Tyler Engel!), he still put in one of his best performances of the year on Friday.  He only allowed one run on four hits in seven innings.  With a 3.95 ERA, he remains the most consistent starter on the Illini staff.

A word about Quinten Sefcik.  He’s been pretty dominant in the long relief role lately.  In his last five games, he has only given up one run.  That’s over a span of 11 innings.  That includes Saturday’s stint which includes 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball!  I wondered if Hartleb was going to start him this weekend.  My thinking is that he wants him to do what he does best. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Alexander Field
West Lafayette, Indiana

Fri. April 21

5:00 pm CT

Sat. April 22

5:00 pm CT

Sun. April 23

2:00 pm CT


Purdue Boilermakers



W-L: 19-18 B1G 6-6


 My take on the Boilermakers:  Purdue has had a pretty adequate season.  That’s the best way to put it.  They haven’t done bad at 19-18 overall.  But they haven’t overwhelmed the Big Ten with a 6-6 conference record either. 

The Boilermaker lineup has a few good guys with the sticks with Skyler Hunter (.349) and Nick Dalesandro (.333).  That said, there’s no one with Pat McInerney’s caliber on the squad.  Jacson Mcgowan leads the team with five homers and overall, the team is out-homered 29 to 18. 

Pitching is Purdue’s Achilles’’ heel with a team ERA of 5.52.  Only one starter, Jack Dellinger, has an ERA under 5.00.  Purdue has seemed to put it together for a winning record so far though. 


Live Stats Listen

BTN Plus
(Fri., Sat.), Big Ten Network (Sun.)


Random Ramblings

Just like last weekend, Illinois is sitting not far behind their opponent in the Big Ten standings.  They are two spots behind Purdue and even more importantly, only 1 1/2 games back of them.  Given Illinois’ recent success, a lot can happen in three games.  Illinois has won five straight against the Boilermakers so let’s keep it going! 

As a baseball history fan, I’m thrilled to see that the Fighting Illini are going to honor our most famous alum, Lou Boudreau.  On May 5th, Illinois baseball will have a pre-game ceremony to honor the Hall of Famer.  The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the year when Illinois retired Boudreau’s uniform number 5. 

May 5th is also Bleacher Bum BBQ so there is plenty of reasons to go to the park that day!

You can find the photos from the last week here in the 2017 Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery.  A couple of highlight photos..

Tyler Engel got a start on Tuesday and managed to go 2 for 4 with a two-run double.  Some nifty glove work too!


Skony could take his time around the bases on Tuesday.  He hit a bomb against Western Michigan. 



…and my favorite fan section the #rowrowrow guys!! 



Go Illini!

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Engel’s patience pays off against the Wildcats with walk-off walk


The last two Illinois baseball games have gone into extra innings.  Not only did the Illini win both of those games, Tyler Engel was responsible for the game winning rbi in both of them. 

Yes, Tyler’s stock is rising.  On Friday night against the Northwestern Wildcats, Engel drove home Bren Spillane on a walk-off bases loaded walk to bring home the win for the Illini. 


Game #31 / April 14, 2017    
vs Northwestern_Wildcats_logo.svg




It was a long night for everybody.  First, it was a slightly later game time than most were used to.  The 7pm start time was to accommodate the Big Ten Network broadcast.  As soon as people began milling into Illinois Field, the clouds broke and there was lightning in the distance.  As per regulations, the game was delayed and everyone was asked to leave the park. 

A new game time of 8:30 was eventually set and you know what?  A lot of people came back.  People are hungry for baseball and Illinois and Northwestern bot supplied a great game.  That’s not all.  The 11 inning game was the longest in Illinois’ season so far.

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Trent Hammond scores two with a double in the fourth

It was Trent Hammond who got Illinois the lead during a 4th inning rally.  His two-run double scored Dan Rowbottom and Doran Turchin. 

Two innings later, Turchin banged out a solo homer. 

2017 Illini vs Northwestern Fri-5734

We saw what Ty Weber (above) is really capable of on Friday.  He didn’t get the win, of course but he pitched seven solid innings while just giving up four hits and one run.  In most cases, that would be enough to give our bullpen a bit of a break.  When the game went 11 innings though, the bullpen got into action. 

We’re getting used to seeing the names of Ryan Thompson, Joey Gerber and Ryan Schmitt now.  Well, on Friday, they kept the Cats to just one run on one hit in four innings.  Schmitt received his first win of the year. 

When Bren Spillane scored on Tyler Engel’s walk to win the first game of the series, it was close to midnight. 

Next up

We go from Ty to Cy.  Cyrillo Watson will be on the mound for the Illini against Northwestern.  Game time is 3pm.  Let’s home Mother Nature is on our side this time. 

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Illinois looking for three wins against the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend

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Ty Weber takes on the Wildcats Friday night

Illinois Baseball is on its best this roll season.  With its three-game sweep against Indiana State, two midweek wins, and a win versus Michigan, the Illini have won six of its last eight games! 

The boys in Orange and Blue will look to extend their winning ways this weekend when the Wildcats of Northwestern come visiting.  The Illini will host the Wildcats for three games at Illinois Field starting Friday at 7pm. 

With a 1-5 conference record, Illinois hopes to leapfrog 10th place Northwestern who checks in at 2-4 in the Big Ten. 

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Pitcher probables

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  • Friday  Ty Weber: 2-3, 4.34 ERA
  • Saturday Cyrillo Watson: 1-2, 5.61 ERA
  • Sunday  TBA  

It’s a bit of a pitching shakeup in the rotation this weekend.  I called it a while ago but Cyrillo Watson (above) will get his first scheduled start.  Up until this week, Watson has been the consistent pitcher during midweek games.  While his record (1-2) doesn’t show it, he has had some good stuff.  Watson filled in last weekend for Luke Shilling when he was a late scratch and he responded with a win over Big Blue. 

I’m hoping that Sunday’s TBA means that there is a chance that Shilling may return.  If not there’s always Cole Bellair who is one two starters with two wins.  Or how about Matt James who put in a fine performance on Tuesday in his hometown of Normal?  Against Illinois State, he logged five innings and gave up just one run on two hits.  

A quick summary of the weekend…


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. April 14

7:00 pm CT

Sat. April 15

3:00 pm CT

Sun. April 16

1:00 pm CT 


Northwestern Wildcats



W-L: 12-20 B1G 2-4


 My take on the Wildcats:  Northwestern’s 12-20 season record may not seem too daunting but considering that they lost their first seven games of the year, they haven’t done too bad.  Like the Illini, they are doing well now too.  They have won their last four games including their last two games over Big Ten rival Iowa. 

The Wildcats don’t have much in terms of power.  Their whole team has as many homeruns as our Pat McInerney does (11).  They do have some players who can make contact such as Matt Hopfner who is batting .315 with a team-leading 26 runs. 

While Northwestern’s ERA is better than Illinois’, it’s not by much.  The Wildcats rank 10th in the conference with a 5.65 mark.  There are some bright spots including Friday starter Cooper Wetherbee who sports a 2.19 ERA in two starts and eleven appearances. 


Live Stats Listen Video (BTN on Fri)


Random Ramblings

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It was a big win over Illinois State on Tuesday.  Pinch hitter Tyler Engel (above) got the game winning rbi on a sac fly in the 10th inning. 

As noted, starting pitcher Matt James had a fine outing in front of his hometown.  Three of his five innings were 1-2-3 innings.  By the time he was done, he had only given up just one run and two hits. 

Joey Gerber has really come on as Illinois’ closer lately earning four saves in the past two weeks.  Tuesday however, he went three innings to win his first game of the year.  Rest up, Joey.  We may need you this weekend. 

Jack Yalowitz banged out 4 hits for his 11th multi-hit game of the year.  He’s now hitting .360 for the season. 

Lots of promos at the ballpark this weekend!  The “Fighting Illini Bunny” (they can’t call it Easter, I guess) will be on hand on Saturday and Sunday.  Join the egg hunt! 

Habitat for Humanity will be raising funds. Also, new Illini baseball cards will be out! 

See you at the ballpark!  

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Illinois baseball takes one from #18 Michigan


The bad news?  Illinois went 1-2 this weekend. 

The good news?  It was against Michigan, a nationally ranked team in the Big Ten. 

The bittersweet news.  It could have very easily been a 2-1 victory in favor of Illinois. 

Sunday belongs to the freshmen

Illinois won on Sunday to salvage the weekend against powerhouse Michigan who were ranked #18 according to the polls. 

Illinois (11-18, 1-5 Big Ten) scored three runs in the second inning on a couple misplays in the field by Michigan (25-7, 6-3 Big Ten).  Dan Rowbottom added to the tally with a three-run homerun in the third. 

Freshman Cyrillo Watson put in  four innings as a starter but it was another freshman, Ryan Thompson (above) who really got the job done.  In 3 1/3 innings, he kept Michigan scoreless and earned the big W for his second win of the season.


Yet another freshmen, Ryan Schmitt got a big K to get out of the eighth inning and yes, it was time for Joey Gerber (above, he’s a sophomore) to close the game again.  Gerber pitched a scoreless ninth while striking out two batters to get his fourth save of the year. 

Not a Good Friday

I know the boys went into the weekend with 3-0 on their mind but let’s face it, a 1-2 record versus a team like Michigan is a fine accomplishment.  I was following Friday’s game on Twitter though and we were so close to winning that one.  Starter Cole Bellair actually faced the minimum amount of batters through three innings.  That was when Michigan caught fire. 

With a 7-0 lead by the fourth inning,  Illinois lost the lead to a Michigan surge in the fourth and fifth innings.  Final score: 9-8.  Jack Yalowitz doubled and tripled on behalf of Illinois.  Casey Dodge and Doran Turchin also had two hits each. 



There just wasn’t a lot of highlights from Saturday’s game if you are an Illini fan.  Not only did Michigan shut out Illinois 7-0 but the only one hit came off of an Illini’s bat.  That was Trent Hammond’s double that led off the third inning. 

Freshman Ty Weber who is arguably the Illini’s best starting pitcher this season, just didn’t have his stuff on Saturday, giving up 10 hits and five runs in five innings. 

Weekend Fallout

With Sunday’s win, Illinois climbs out of the Big Ten basement.  With a 1-5 conference record, they are tied with Penn State for 11th.  Rutgers is alone in the basement with an 0-3 B1G record.  Here are the current standings. 

Also (and I don’t how to feel about this), Michigan surges all the way from #18 to #13 in the polls.  I guess those wins over Illinois mean something. 

Next up

2017 illvsmsufrigame1-3697

On Tuesday, Illinois will face Illinois State in another midweek game on the road.  The game takes place at 6pm CT at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Illinois.  Hometown boy Matt James (0-1, 8.83 ERA) will be on the mound preview 

Go Illini!

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Illinois to take on #18 Michigan in Ann Arbor


Casey Dodge gets welcomed back to the dugout by Doran Turchin after hitting a homer on Sunday

Illinois Baseball travels for their first road Big Ten series this weekend.  Beginning Friday, they will take on a tough Michigan team.  Currently ranked #18, Michigan is 10-1 on their home turf. 

Illinois is 10-16 but is coming off a four-game win streak including last weekend’s three-game sweep of Indiana State.  They are hoping to start adding to their conference win total.  Currently, Illinois is 0-3 in Big Ten play. 

Play begins early at 3pm this Friday. 

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Pitcher probables

  • Friday  Cole Bellair: 1-2, 6.91 ERA
  • Saturday Ty Weber: 2-2, 3.80 ERA
  • Sunday  TBA  

Both Cole Bellair and Ty Weber are looking to repeat their successes from last weekend which resulted in wins for Illinois.  Weber in particular, is coming off a dominant performance which garnered him both the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award as well as Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.  His complete game last Saturday was the first for Illinois this year. 

Sunday’s TBA is due to slight injury that Luke Shilling suffered last Sunday.  I’m sure Shill wants to get out there but Coach Hartleb most likely wants to be cautious. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Wilpon Complex
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Fri. April 7

3:00 pm CT

Sat. April 8

1:00 pm CT

Sun. April 9

12:00 pm CT



Michigan Wolverines



W-L: 23-6, B1G 4-2


 My take on the Wolverines:  The Big Blue (23-6) started out the Big Ten season with two straight losses but they were against arguably one of best teams in the conference, the Terrapins of Maryland.  Since then, Michigan has won four straight conference games including a sweep against Penn State. 

There’s a reason Michigan is #18 in the country.  They score runs.  In their last six games, they have scored in double digits in five of them.  For the season, they have scored more than twice as many runs as their opponents (208 to 102).

There isn’t a downside to Michigan.  Their pitching is solid with a conference-best 3.07 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched (263 Ks in 258 IP).  Drew Lugbauer (8 HR and 34 rbis) leads a lineup that can score (I know, I said that already. It’s worth repeating).  Only Michigan State (.294) has a better team batting average than the Wolverines (.290).



Random Ramblings

Michael Massey’s two homers helped propel Illinois to a 5-3 victory in their midweek game over Missouri at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois.  This preserved Illinois’ bragging rights over Mizzou.  Kudos to the freshmen who pitched in that game; there were four, Cyrillo Watson, Zack Jones, Ryan Thompson (who got the win, his first), and Ryan Schmitt. 


The fifth pitcher, sophomore Joey Gerber (above) earned the save.  Before Friday, Gerber had zero saves.  In a matter of four games, he has saved three.  What’s more impressive is that in those three innings, he struck out eight batters.  I’m wondering if Coach Hartleb has found his closer.

Pat the Bat Watch


Jake Adams homered in Iowa’s midweek game so he and Pat McInerney are now tied for the Big Ten lead with eleven each.  Not to add any pressure but weekend opponent Michigan’s Drew Lugbauer ranks third with eight.  Pitchers, don’t give him anything good to hit, please! 

Go Illini!!    

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