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. 

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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

HSB auction-engel1

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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Illinois baseball turning over a new leaf against Sycamores


What a weekend for Illini baseball!  A sweep of the Indiana State Sycamores is just what the team needed.  Not only did Illinois win all three games against the Sycamores (12-12) but they did it in style with a fantastic pitching performance from Ty Weber as well as some offensive heroics from Pat McInerney. 

Sunday’s win for Illinois gives the team a slightly more respectable 9-16 record for the year. 

A complete game performance by Ty Weber on Saturday garnered him a Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and Freshman of the Week award.  It was Weber’s first complete game of his career and the first of any Illini this year.  Weber improves to 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA for the season. 


Pat McInerney homered in all three games against Indiana State.  Saturday’s dinger by McInerney was a walk-off to help Weber to his win.  On Sunday. his homer was no less important.  His second inning homer took the lead which the Illini would not relinquish. 


Ty Weber’s complete game was probably a welcome relief to the Illinois bullpen.  The relievers have really made an about turn as of late and have become much more effective.  This past weekend, the bullpen pitched a total of ten innings while giving ip just two runs on four hits. 


Joey Gerber (above) seems to be in the closer role for now.  He was two-for two in save situations.  Meanwhile, Quinten Sefcik (top) has a team leading three wins, all in relief.  Sefcik earned the W on Sunday. 

Fighting Illini Friday highlights

Fighting Illini Saturday highlights

Fighting Illini Sunday highlights

Illinois Baseball Report Sunday photos


Random Ramblings

Saturday’s win was the first time Illinois won in consecutive games this season.  I guess they liked it so much that they did it again.  Obviously, pitching was key this weekend with a 2.00 ERA against a pretty decent Indiana State lineup.  Maybe I’m biased (of course I am) but I have thought that our pitching staff was better than the stats indicated.  Time will tell if this will keep up. 


illvsindstsun2017-5269 illvsindstsun2017-5270
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DH Casey Dodge hit his first homer of the year on Sunday.  Coach Hartleb watches it sail over the left field wall…

illvsindstsun2017-5047 illvsindstsun2017-5464

More dogs showed up for the annual “Bark in the Park” event than I have seen before.  The Illini really gave the canines a great show!  Check out other upcoming Fighting Illini promotions including May 5th’s Bleacher Bum BBQ. 

McInerney’s three homers now puts him at 11 for the year.  He now leads the Big Ten over Jake Adams (10).  Pat also leads the conference in total bases with 71 again by one over Adams who has 70. 

Next up

The Midweek game is on the road with the Illini traveling to Sauget, Illinois to take on Missouri on Tuesday.  Game Time is at 6:30pm at GCS Ballpark. 

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Illinois looks to reverse their streak vs. Sycamores this weekend


Dan Rowbottom gives the fans something to cheer about on Sunday

The Illini baseball team welcome the Indiana State Sycamores to Illinois Field for a three-game series this weekend starting Friday at 6pm. 

Illinois (6-16) is hoping to rebound from a four-game losing streak. That includes a three-game sweep on Big Ten opening weekend against Michigan State as well as a midweek shutout by Bradley on Tuesday.  Conversely, Indiana State is currently on a five-game winning streak.    

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Pitcher probables


Luke Shilling looks to recover on Sunday

  • Friday  Cole Bellair: 1-2, 8.02 ERA
  • Saturday Ty Weber: 1-2, 4.54 ERA
  • Sunday  Luke Shilling: 1-2 7.33 ERA 

With 41 total runs given up in the three games, there isn’t a lot positive to be said about the pitching during the Michigan State weekend. It’s just time to move on.  I know the talent is there.  Coach Hartleb does too and that is why we are seeing the same three pitchers this weekend. 

Do I sound like I’m trying to convince myself?  Because I truly believe this to be true.  

A quick summary of the weekend…


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. March 31

6:00 pm CT

Sat. April 1

3:00 pm CT

Sat. April 2

1:00 pm CT



Indiana State Sycamores



W-L: 12-9


 My take on the Sycamores:  The Sycamores have had a little better luck than the Illini lately.  While Illinois have lost their last four games, Indiana State are riding a five-game winning streak.  Their last win was against Illinois’ tough Big Ten rival Indiana who is 3-0 in conference play.  Yes, at 12-9 Indiana State will not roll over for over for us certainly not this year. 

Much like Illinois, the Sycamores have plenty in the hitting department.  Tony Roselli paces the team with a nice .414 batting average and an equally dangerous .724 slugging percentage.  Kyle Moore leads the Sycs in homers with five but it’s Dane Giesler who is the rbi leader with 16. 

Indiana State pitching is suspect though giving up more runs than you would think for a 12-9 team (5.28 team ERA).  Illinois can look to capitalize on that.  I’m looking for a lot of runs on the scoreboard this weekend. 



Random Ramblings

2017 ILL vs isu-2851

I’m starting to wonder if freshman Cyrillo Watson will get a weekend start sometime soon.  He’s started two Tuesday midweek games in two straight weeks and has done fairly well.  In six combined innings, he’s allowed five hits and just one run. 

How many walks has he allowed, you ask?  How about, none? 

This weekend’s home series against Indiana State will be chock full of promotions to get you to the park. 

Friday:  Super Hero Day wear a super hero costume and get free Illini sunglasses!

Saturday: Kids Club Day pre-register your kids to get a tour of the press box and clubhouse!

Sunday: Bark in the Park bring your dogs to Illinois Field… on a leash please

2017 illvsmsufrigame1-3281

For a couple years, I’ve been trying to get Pat “the Bat” McInerney to be a thing.  This year, the moniker really has meaning.  Pat McInerney currently ranks second in the conference in homers (8) and slugging percentage (.667).  He is inching up on Iowa’s Jake Adams who has 9 HR and a .668 slugging pct. 

That’s him hitting one out against Michigan State on Friday night.  C’mon, Pat the Bat!  Don’t let up!


Go Illini!!    

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The Spartans visit Illinois Field for Big Ten opener

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Jack Yalowitz leads all Illini with a .389 average

I say this every year but it’s worth repeating… the non-conference season is just the beginning.  The Big Ten season is almost here and that brings a whole new aspect to college baseball.  The competition is more intense, the rivalries begin to heat up and the baseball is that much more fun to watch. 

This weekend, Michigan State (12-5) comes to Illinois Field for the Big Ten home opener.  The Spartans are currently second in the Big Ten behind Michigan in non-conference play.  Illinois who reside in 11th place with a 6-12 record hope to improve their standing.  With a series win, they could move up a notch over Penn State.  Both teams have momentum having won their last games. 

Note the change in the schedule due to weather.  There will be a doubleheader on Friday starting at 2pm.  The third game will be played on Saturday or Sunday depending on conditions.  

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Pitcher probables

  • Friday  Game 1 Cole Bellair: 1-1, 9.00 ERA
  • Friday Game 2  Ty Weber: 1-1, 3.45 ERA
  • Game 3  Luke Shilling: 1-1 5.87 ERA 

The hurlers are settling into a rotation going into conference play.  Cole Bellair (1-1)retains his Friday night role while Ty Weber (1-1) who enjoys the team’s best ERA, will go on the mound for Game 2.  Luke Shilling (1-1) who had a moderately better outing last weekend finishes out the weekend.

As a side note, Quinten Sefcik (2-3) is the only pitcher with more than one win.  Sefick pitched in three of Illinois’ five games.  In those three games, he’s allowed just run in 5 2/3 innings. 

A quick summary of the weekend…


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. March 24

3:00 pm CT



Game 3 pending


Michigan State Spartans



W-L: 12-5


 My take on the Spartans:  The Spartans are off to a 12-5 start for a good reason.  They bring a combination of smart hitting (team average .304), formidable starting pitcher in Alex Troop (3-1, 1.93 ERA) and a very solid bullpen. 

When he swings the bat, Troop isn’t so bad either.  As a 1B/OF, the sophomore is hitting .455 in 12 games and 7 starts.

Couldn’t help but notice that there is a Dan Chmielewski on the Spartans’ roster.  I can’t help but wonder if he’s any relation to former Illini Nick Chmielewski



Random Ramblings

2017 ILL vs isu-2831

Cyrillo Watson: 3 IP, nada hits

Fantastic job by the pitching staff on Tuesday!  In his first career start, freshman Cyrillo Watson kept ISU hitless in his three innings and earned the win.  The bullpen committee of Quinten Sefcik, Zack Jones, Ryan Thompson, Ryan Schmitt and Joey Gerber held the Redbirds to just one run on four hits for the remainder of the game. 

Michael Massey and Doran Turchin led offense against the Redbirds.  Massey went 3 for 4 with a double and two rbis while Turchin scored four times on two hits and two walks. 

Final score:  Illinois 7 ISU 1



Former Illini pitcher Tanner Roark is doing his part for his country.  Roark pitched four innings of shutout ball against Japan to help Team USA win the semifinal of the World Baseball Classic.  He gave up two hits and struck out one. 

Long time fans will remember Tanner Roark pitching the Illini to the Big Ten Tournament.  That’s him above with former catcher Lars Davis after he pitched Illinois to victory in the first round of the tournament in 2007. 


Go Illini!!    

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Despite opportunities, Illinois drops doubleheader Sunday

Illbaseball Sun March19-2641

Pat McInerney made things interesting with his 5th homer of the year

Despite Sunday’s exciting game against Southern Illinois, the Illini couldn’t take advantage of opportunities and ended up losing both ends of a doubleheader.  Illinois lost the first game against Toledo 10-4.  SIU took the second game 3-1. 

Illinois (5-11) won the first game of the weekend’s tournament  against Toledo on Friday but lost three straight since then.  The Toledo Rockets went on to win the rest of their games at the round robin tournament hosted at Illinois Field. 

For the weekend, leadoff hitter Jack Yalowitz went 8 for 17 with nine rbis and two homeruns.  He is Illinois’ leading hitter with a .400 batting average.  Pat McInerney hit two homers for the weekend to add to his team lead of five.

Sunday’s games:


Game #15 / March 19, 2017    
utoledo vs



I have to hand it to the Toledo Rockets.  They came into this weekend’s tourney with a 2-14 record but buckled down and came out of it with the best record of the weekend with a 3-1 mark.  On Sunday, they sure handed the Illini a big loss. 

There was no doubt about this one.  No quick for the Illini and no comeback.  By the 5th inning, it was already 9-2 Toledo. 

Jack Yalowitz (above) continued to hit with a 2-5 performance with a triple and two rbis.  The bullpen again was effective as Ryan Thompson and Zak Devermann shut the Rockets down in the last 3 2/3 innings. 


Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

Fighting Illini Box Score

Illinois Baseball Report photos for Friday




Game #16 / March 19, 2017    
siu vs



Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

Fighting Illini Box Score

Illinois Baseball Report photos for Friday


Random Ramblings

Illbaseball Sun March19-1640

I’m beginning to realize what a talent the Illini have in Jack Yalowitz.  Yes, he is hitting .400 with 20 rbis for the season but during the game against Toledo, I saw what he really brought to the team.  With two out and Anthony Drago on first, Jack fouled off six straight pitches until he got one he liked and roped a triple down the right field line to score Drago. 

In fact, Yalo would have another nine-pitch at-bat later in the game.

Illbaseball Sun March19-2764

I want to go on the record and say that these Illini baseball fans are awesome.  They started the Row! Row! Row chant for Dan Rowbottom last year (and had a chance to do it again Sunday) but are rooting for all the players now and are really getting the other fans involved in the game. 

Keep it up!!

Next up

Hey check it out!  There’s another home game tomorrow!  Illinois State will be visiting Illinois Field Tuesday.  Cyrillo Watson is the scheduled starter. 

Game time is 4:05!!

See you at the ballpark!

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