Illini travel west to take on Huskers

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Doug Hayes was near perfect last week with a one-hitter against Penn State

Coming off last weekend’s 2-1 Big Ten series win against Penn State, Illinois (10-12, 2-1 Big Ten) head west to Lincoln to face the Cornhuskers of Nebraska (17-7, 3-0 Big Ten) who are on an eight game winning streak. 

The Illini will be playing a three-game series in Lincoln on Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the Huskers who are currently tied with Michigan State for first place (check out current Big Ten baseball standings). 

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Coach Hartleb is sticking with the same pitching assignments as last week.  All three pitched extremely well.  I said this last week but Cole Bellair is still looking for his first win.  This week, his ERA is up to 0.65.  Meanwhile, Cody Sedlock is looking for his fifth win. 

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 4-1, 3.26 ERA
  • Saturday  Doug Hayes 3-2, 3.16 ERA
  • Sunday  Cole Bellair: 0-0, 0.65 ERA

    


Hawks Field

 
Lincoln, Nebraska

Fri. April 1

6:35 pm CT

Sat. April 2

2:05 pm CT

Sun. April 3

1:05 pm CT 

vs

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska

W-L: 17-7,  3-0 Big Ten

My take on the Huskers:

The Huskers are having a grand year.  Off to a 17-7 start, they even swept Purdue in their first Big Ten series last weekend.  In fact, they haven’t lost since March 18th, a total of eight games. 

You’ll find plenty of power wearing Big Red.  The Huskers have out-homered their opponents 28 to 12.  Led by Scott Schreiber and Jake Placzek (6 each), there are five Nebraska hitters with four or more homers this season. 

One final note:  the Illini has gone 28-3 in road games in the past two seasons.  Of those three losses, two were against Nebraska. 

Quick take:  Bring your A game, starters!

Random Ramblings

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Anthony Drago leads the Illini in HR, rbi, and doubles and hits

Wow, that was a tough loss against Indiana State on Tuesday.  Despite an 8th inning rally to tie the game, Illinois lost the game on a controversial dropped third strike that scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. 

Anthony Drago hit his team-leading fourth homerun in the loss.  He also leads the team with 15 rbis. 

I think we’re spoiled by the 2015 season but Illinois has historically had trouble with the midweek games.  This past Tuesday is a good example. 

On a happier note, noted Illinois baseball coach Augie Garrido has been inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.  Garrido entered 2016 with 1,950 career wins, most by any college baseball coach.  He also took 15 teams to the College World Series. 

Garrido coached at the University of Illinois from 1988-1990.  He won 42 games in 1989 and 43 in 1990 establishing a team record for Big Ten wins with 19. 

Augie Garrido coached well before I started following Illini baseball but I know a few fans that still remember his era. 

Fan Overview

For those who can’t make the exciting drive across I-80 to Lincoln, Mr. Dave Loane should be able to give you what you need.  He’ll be broadcasting the games on AM-1400 WDWS airwaves.  Live video is available (Friday and Saturday / Sunday) and you can always follow live stats via the web, as well. 

Go Illini!!    


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Hayes’ one-hitter highlights Saturday’s doubleheader with Penn State

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Hayes improves to 3-2 with a one-hitter over Penn State

Two fantastic starting performances by Illinois’ Doug Hayes and Cole Bellair resulted in just win in Saturday’s doubleheader with Penn State.  Hayes pitched the first complete game one-hitter by an Illini pitcher in nine years to win Game 1 by the score of 6-1. 

Bellair allowed just one run in eight innings but the Nittany Lions rallied in the ninth to take the last game of the series 5-3. 

Illinois is now 10-11 and 2-1 in the young Big Ten conference season. 

 

Game #20 / March 26, 2016    
vs PSU_thumb1

6

  1

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Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

See my photos from Game Two on Saturday

Random Ramblings

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In all, a favorable weekend for the Illini.  It’s just too bad we couldn’t go out on a winning note.  However, three great starting performances and some fireworks from the bat.  I was most impressed by the defense by the young team. 

Speaking of defense, freshman third baseman Trent Hammond (above) is already making people turn heads with his defense.  He’s already becoming a favorite photo subject of mine.  Not only that, Big Ten Network has taken notice of him…

Next up

On Tuesday, Illinois will play an away midweek game against Indiana State (who almost beat Indiana on Saturday).  It’s an early game at 3pm. 

This coming weekend, the Illini will play three games against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln.  First pitch on Friday is 6:35pm. 

Go Illini!


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Illinois’ Sedlock wins conference opener vs. Penn State 5-0

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Cody Sedlock improves to 4-1 for the season

With a little help from his friends, Cody Sedlock got Illinois baseball’s conference season off to the right start.  Sedlock threw seven shutout innings to give Illinois a 5-0 win over Penn State on Friday at Illinois Field’s home opener. 

Charlie Naso threw two scoreless innings in relief while Anthony Drago and Jack Yalowitz both collected two hits in the game. 

The win improves Illinois to 9-10 and gives them the first win in Big Ten conference play.  Penn State’s record is now 9-11 for the year.

 

Game #19 / March 25, 2016    
vs PSU

5

  0

 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

More of my photos are here at the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery

Next up

Two more games left against Penn State.  Note that there is a schedule change.  There will be a doubleheader on Saturday and no game on Sunday.  Game time on Saturday is 11am. 

Go Illini!


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Home Sweet Home! Illinois welcomes Penn State for Big Ten opener

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Illinois sees the return of catcher Jason Goldstein this weekend

“There’s no place like home”, said Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz but I think the Illinois baseball players are probably thinking the same thing.  Illinois (8-10) is looking to start off the Big Ten conference portion of the season in the right way while they host the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-10) at Illinois Field for a three game series.  

Going into the weekend, Illinois is 8-10 and currently in 9th place in the non-conference standings.  It’s a whole new ballgame when it comes to the conference season, though.  A different intensity, attitude and approach to the game. And of course, the wins now really count in the standings. 

This is the Nittany Lions’ first visit to Champaign since 2013.  The good news is that Illinois has swept Penn State the past three times the two teams have met. 

You want more good news?  Star catcher Jason Goldstein seems to back to play.  Goldy had been riding the pines since he injured his leg two weeks ago against UNC Greensboro.  However, he started as the designated hitter against Illinois State on Tuesday and played the full game.  Will he be ready to don the tools of ignorance on Friday night?  Time will tell.  If not, Mark Skonieczny will be there providing more than adequate backup.

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Here are the starting assignments this weekend.  Cole Bellair is still looking for his first win despite his microscopic 0.46 ERA. 

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 3-1, 3.98 ERA
  • Saturday  Doug Hayes 2-2, 3.86 ERA
  • Sunday  Cole Bellair: 0-0, 0.46 ERA

    


Illinois Field

 
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. March 25

6:00 pm CT

Sat. March 26

1:00 pm CT

Sat. March 26

3:00 pm CT

(note schedule change)

 

vs

Penn State Nittany Lions

PSU

W-L: 9-10

My take Penn State:

Like Illinois, Penn State has had an up and down year.  They are owners of a five-game losing streak yet two three-game winning streaks.  It will be interesting to see which Penn State team will show up this weekend. 

Infielder Jim Haley has supported the offense with a .351 batting average while Willie Burger leads with 16 rbis.  Starter Justin Hagenman has been lights out in five outings with a 1.12 ERA and a 3-1 record.  So far, Jack Anderson (0.93 ERA, 5 saves) has been the Lions’ go-to man out of the pen late in the game. 

Summary:  A good chance to win but score early! 

Random Ramblings

naso

Charlie Naso notches first career win

Illinois got a confidence boost on Tuesday as they defeated Illinois State 8-3.  Matt James made his first career start and held his own.  He struck out six batters in four innings.  The Redbirds did score three runs off of him in the third inning but the Illini offense had his back.  The Illini offense rallied for five runs in the top of the fourth inning on the bats of newbies Jack Yalowitz, Doran Turchin and Trent Hammond. 

And let’s give some kudos to Charlie Naso who got his first college win.  He did it in style, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out three.  Nick Blackburn closed out the game hurling two more scoreless frames. 

Nice way to bring us to the Big Ten season, guys! 

Fan Overview

The weather for Friday’s opener is looking to be a cool 47 degrees but nice and sunny at game time.  If you come early enough on Friday, you’ll get a free pennant

You really should come to Illinois Field (and invite some friends!) but if you can’t, Dave Loane’s smooth voice will grace the AM-1400 WDWS airwaves.  Live video is available and you can always follow on GameTracker, as well. 

See you at the ballpark!!  


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Illinois dogged by miscues and inexperience, drop last three in Carbondale

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Tough Sunday loss for Andrew Mamlic

I’m sure none of the Illini baseball players and certainly not Coach Hartleb could have seen a 1-3 weekend coming.  After a solid win behind starter Cody Sedlock and 3B Trent Hammond (3 for 3) on Friday, Illinois dropped the next game against the underdog Huskies on Saturday and the final two against the Southern Illinois Salukis. 

Despite good, solid starts from all four starting pitchers, Illinois could only come home with one win.  Errors on the field, lack of offense and inconsistent bullpen contributed to the three losses.  Illinois who started out 6-3, is now looking at a 7-10 record and is one game away from the Big Ten conference season. 

 

Quick summary of the Carbondale weekend:

 

Game #14 / March 18, 2016    
vs Northern-Illinois

5

  3

 

Random Ramblings

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Coach Hartleb is trying Dan Rowbottom (above) in left field and he’s responding with the bat.  Batting in the third spot in the lineup, Rowbottom collected seven hits over the weekend.  Row is now hitting a nifty .364 in 12 games. 

Four quality starts for the weekend and Illinois still manages to win just one.  I’ll give you three reasons… Inexperience, bullpen and lack of timely hitting.  I’m sure we’ll get in stride when Big Ten season starts.  We have seen some good numbers from new guys and that is encouraging. 

I’m sure the boys can’t wait to play in home territory, either. 

 

Next up

Illinois has its first midweek game on Tuesday.  They travel to Normal to play the Redbirds of Illinois State.  Game time is an early 4:30pm start. 

Next weekend is the home opener!  Not only that, it’s the Big Ten opener as well.  Illinois will host Penn State at Illinois Field for a three game set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Game time on Friday is 6pm. 

See you at the ballpark!!


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Illinois baseball faces intrastate battle this weekend in Carbondale

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J.D. Nielsen effective out of the pen with a 1.74 ERA

You could almost say that Illinois baseball (6-7) is going to the dogs.  This weekend the Illini will face the Huskies of Northern Illinois and the Salukis of Southern Illinois.  The good guys are traveling to Carbondale, Illinois for a four set.  They will face the Huskies for two games and the Salukis for two more.  After getting swept last weekend at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, the Illini are looking for some wins. 

There are no changes in the pitching assignments.  Certainly not in the addition of Cole Bellair who did not allow an earned run in seven innings.  He was one of the few bright spots in last weekend’s tournament. 

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Here are the starting assignments this weekend:

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 2-1, 4.01 ERA
  • Saturday Game 1  Cole Bellair 0-0, 0.00 ERA
  • Saturday  Game 2 Doug Hayes: 2-2, 4.09 ERA
  • Sunday  Andrew Mamlic: 1-2, 5.06 ERA

    


Itchy Jones Stadium

 
Carbondale, Illinois

Fri. March 18

1:00 pm CT

Sat. March 19

1:00 pm CT

 

vs

Northern Illinois Huskies

Northern-Illinois

W-L: 2-14

Sat. March 19

3:00 pm CT

Sun. March 20

3:00 pm CT

vs

Southern Illinois Salukis

Southern_Illinois

W-L: 9-6-1

My take on our In-State neighbors:

2016 has not been kind to the Northern Illinois University Huskies.  So far, they are 2-14 this year.  Justin Fletcher (no relation to Casey or Darrin) is doing all he can from the plate.  He’s batting .429 and playing every day. 

The pitching is a weakness.  Their ERA is in double digits at 10.05. 

Southern Illinois is a different story.  They’ve got a winning record and a good balance of pitching (Michael Baird with a 1.75 ERA in four starts) and hitting (four starters with a .300 plus batting average).  SIU is especially tough at home as well. 

Summary:  Load up on Huskie pitching, guys! 

Random Ramblings

IMG_2305-001This week, Jason Goldstein netted another award.  This time, he garnered the Senior CLASS Award for student athletes.  CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.  Goldy does get credit for passing up the fame and fortune of the minor leagues to stay on for his senior year. 

Goldstein probably needed some good news,  He was injured in Saturday morning’s game against UNC Greensboro.  Reports say he pulled a hamstring and will hopefully be back by the home series against Penn State.  Fortunately, Illinois has a great backup in Mark Skonieczny (right).  Skony who could probably start for most other Big Ten teams, is capable behind the plate and good with the stick.  He had a good summer with the Northwoods League last summer, making the All-Star team. 

Coach Dan Hartleb will be making a homecoming of sorts this weekend.  Not only was he an assistant coach at SIU, he was a pretty decent catcher for the Salukis in his college days.  He batted over .300 for his career at Southern. 

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Itchy Jones:  baseball tactician

Also, you probably noticed the name of the stadium this weekend,  “Itchy Jones Stadium”.  All Illinois Baseball fans should know that name.  Itchy Jones was the long time coach at Southern before he left for greener pastures at Illinois Field.  He skippered for Illinois with Hartleb as his protégé until his retirement in 2005.  Jones has a 474-373-1 record and is currently 28th on the all-time wins list among college coaches.  

…he still comes to Illinois games, by the way.  Great guy to sit and talk baseball strategy. 

Go Illini!!


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Illinois baseball still working out the kinks

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CF Doran Turchin: 8 for 18 and two homers for the weekend

Well, it looks like Illinois baseball (6-7)still has a few kinks to work out.  A week after they swept the Stetson Invitational, they were swept four games straight themselves at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.  Illinois dropped two to UNC Greensboro Spartans and two more to host Coastal Carolina Chanticleers this past weekend. 

Starting pitching was nowhere near the quality that we have seen so far, the defense had holes and the bullpen was ineffective at best.  Ironically, the best pitching performance was by Cole Bellair who made his first start of the year. 

 

Quick summary of the damage done:

 

Game #10 / March 11, 2016    
logo_UNCG vs

20

  9

 

Random Ramblings

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Jalin McMillan hit his first career homer

I think it’s time to look at the bright spots of the weekend.  Yes, the Illini went 0-4 but there were a couple things that went right. 

Cole Bellair- Has Coach Hartleb found a new starter?  After his seven inning performance on Saturday, Bellair has still not given up an unearned run this season. 

Doran Turchin- The new centerfielder went 8 for 18 with two homers and six ribbies. 

Plus, I may be reaching here but when games get out of hand, coaches tend to bring in the second-stringers.  This happened more than we would have liked this past weekend.  But if we’re going to look for a silver lining, we can see Jalin McMillan who went 2 for 2 and a homerun on Sunday and 1 for 1 on Friday.  David Craan came in as a sub on Friday and got a hit. 

While it didn’t affect the overall outcome, I’m sure the coaches were still paying attention. 

Next up

How do I know that our home opener is coming up soon?  The games are moving further north.  Next weekend, Illinois has four game set in Carbondale.. They will face the Northern Illinois Huskies for two and Coach Hartleb’s alumnus Southern Illinois Salukis for two more. 

Go Illini!


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Illinois baseball looks to continue winning streak at Coastal Carolina Invitational

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After a big weekend, Adam Walton is now hitting .306

A week after their clean sweep at the Stetson Invitational, Illinois baseball (6-3) looks to continue their success on the road again.  They will participate in four games at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.  They will face UNC Greensboro for two games and then take on host Coastal Carolina for two more.

Fighting Illini weekend preview

With the four-game schedule this weekend, Coach Hartleb is trying Cole Bellair as a starter on Saturday.  Bellair has been effective out of the pen so far this season.  That’s probably an understatement.  So far, he hasn’t given up a run in 6 1/3 innings.  We’ll see how he does in a starting role. 

Here are the starting assignments this weekend:

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 2-0, 2.37 ERA
  • Saturday Game 1  Cole Bellair 0-0, 0.00 ERA
  • Saturday  Game 2 Doug Hayes: 2-1, 2.65 ERA
  • Sunday  Andrew Mamlic: 1-1, 2.76 ERA

     


Springs Brooks Stadium

 
Conway, South Carolina

Fri. March 11

11:00 am CT

Sat. March 12

11:00 am CT

 

vs

UNC Greensboro Spartans

logo_UNCG

W-L: 8-4

Sat. March 12

3:00 pm CT

Sun. March 13

10:00 pm CT

vs

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

ccu

W-L: 7-6

My take on the Coastal Carolina Invitational: 

First up, it’s the Spartans of UNC Greensboro (8-4).  Wow, they can hit.  To date, the Sparts are hitting .360 and almost 9 runs per game.  Maybe it’s a testament to the players or perhaps the quality of pitching they are facing but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.  The Illini pitchers will get a real test this weekend.

The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina (7-6) were ranked #22 in the country up until this past weekend.  They have a source of power coming from Zach Remillard who has gone yard five times already.  They’re Achilles Heel is pitching with a 5.54 ERA.  Only one starter has a ERA under 5.00.  To be fair, they’re a tough team cursed (or blessed?) with a very tough schedule

 

Random Ramblings

For those interested in following the games this weekend, you can hear Dave Loane on AM-1400 WDWS and live stats are available at goCCUsports.com

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Jason Goldstein gets all kinds of accolades and they are all deserved.  This week, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced the watch list for the 2016 Johnny Bench Award and Goldy’s name was on it. 

This shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Goldstein is leading the Illini with a nifty .421 average and seven rbis.  He is also doing a fine job handling the Illini pitching staff who have gotten off to a great start.  The Sedlock/Hayes/Mamlic trio only gave ten runs in the Stetson Invitational. 

Congrats, Jason!

Hey, is that tat on Tyler Jay’s arm new?  The former Illini hurler gets interviewed by Ryan Baker. 

 

Go Illini!!


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With 6-3 record, Illinois baseball still outplaying preseason forecast

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Nick Blackburn leads the Big Ten with four saves

Now that three weeks have passed, it’s worth a moment to take a peek at the Big Ten Baseball standings

Overall Conference
W-L-T % W-L %
Michigan State 8-1-0 .889 0-0 .000
Michigan 7-2-0 .778 0-0 .000
Minnesota 7-3-0 .700 0-0 .000
Illinois 6-3-0 .667 0-0 .000
Ohio State 6-4-1 .591 0-0 .000
Maryland 5-5-0 .500 0-0 .000
Rutgers 4-6-0 .400 0-0 .000
Northwestern 4-8-0 .333 0-0 .000
Iowa 3-6-0 .333 0-0 .000
Nebraska 3-6-0 .333 0-0 .000
Indiana 3-7-0 .300 0-0 .000
Penn State 2-7-0 .222 0-0 .000
Purdue 2-8-0 .200 0-0 .000


The Michigan State Spartans are off to a surprisingly great 8-1 start and their neighbor Michigan is right behind them with a 7-2 mark. 

Both Indiana (3-7) and Nebraska (3-6), who topped the preseason poll, are lagging behind after three weeks.

As for Illinois (6-3), well, they can quietly keep up their good work.  They were picked to finish sixth in the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll.  At this rate, they seem to be doing fine in this new era.  The pitching has held firm and they’ve gotten enough hitting especially in this past weekend to be successful.  Currently, Cody Sedlock is among the conference leaders with 20 strikeouts and Nick Blackburn leads with four saves.  With a .421 average, catcher Jason Goldstein is fifth in the Big Ten.

It’s still early, of course.  Anything can happen in 2016 and once the Big Ten conference season starts, it’s anyone’s ballgame.  The Big Ten season starts soon too!  Illinois baseball’s Big Ten opener which is coincidentally its home opener, will be in just in few weeks (full schedule here).  They’ll take on Penn State on March 25th at Illinois Field in Champaign, Illinois. 


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Hat Trick! Illinois win all three at Stetson Invitational

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Anthony Drago was 3 for 4 with a HR vs. Villanova

If every weekend could go like this past one for Illinois baseball, I’m sure Coach Hartleb wouldn’t mind.  Not only did the Illini sweep all three games at the Stetson Invitational in DeLand, Florida but everything seemed to click.  Starting pitching continued to be on their game, the bullpen was solid and most importantly, Illinois never gave up the lead throughout the whole weekend. 

With the sweep, Illinois now has a 6-3 record and have won six of their last seven games.  Proven veterans like Jason Goldstein (.421) and Adam Walton (.306) are playing up to expectations.  Some new guys including freshmen,are stepping up too.  That includes junior Anthony Drago (.333), freshman CF Doran Turchin (.278) and freshman Cole Bellair (6 1/3 scoreless IP out of the pen). 

Weekend stat:  Illinois starters Cody Sedlock, Doug Hayes and Andrew Mamlic gave up a total of five runs for the three games. 

 

Quick summary of each game

 

Game #7 / March 4, 2016    
vs cmu

9

  4

 

It didn’t take long for the Illini offense to get on the board.  With the help of Luke Shilling’s homerun, they scored five runs in the first inning.  Adam Walton paced the team with three hits and Pat McInerney contributed a homer and three rbis. 

Starter Cody Sedlock put in a solid start for his second win of the season.  He struck out six batters in six innings and only allowed two runs in five hits. 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

 

 

Game #8 / March 5, 2016    
vs stetson

4

  1

Once again, Doug Hayes shows that he has the right stuff.  In five innings, he kept the Hatters to just one run while striking out eight.  The trio of JD Nielsen, Cole Bellair and Nick Blackburn combined for a near perfect four innings of relief work allowing just one hit. 

Michael Hurwitz put Illinois on the board with an rbi base hit in the fifth inning.  Jason Goldstein continues to rake as he went 2 for 5 while new guys Doran Turchin and Jack Yalowitz both had key hits. 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

 

 

Game #9 / March 6, 2016    
vs villanova_logo

4

  2

 

Andrew Mamlic got his due on Sunday against Villanova getting his first win of the season.  Mamlic struck out six in 5 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits.  Once again, Nielsen, Bellair and Blackburn came on in very solid relief pitching.  They kept Villanova scoreless for three plus innings.

The top of Illinois’ lineup was tough on Sunday.  Adam Walton, Goldstein, McInerney and Anthony Drago all had multi-hit games.  Drago went 3 for 4 with a homerun in the second inning. 

 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

 

Random Ramblings

IMG_9159Luke Shilling’s 3-run homer on Friday’s game came in his very first start as an Illini.  He’s itching to play I’m sure .  Don’t forget, Luke (left) can also pitch off the mound, too… After an 0 for 8 start against Tulane, Pat McInerney has gone 7 for 23 including a homer… After this weekend, Illinois pitching has 84 strikeouts in 81 innings. 

The Big Ten Network has come out with their broadcast schedule for baseball in the 2016 season.    Four Big Ten matchups and one midweek game against Eastern Illinois will be broadcasted in one manner or another.  It won’t be too long as the Saturday of home opening weekend against Penn State will be shown on the Big Ten Network on March 26th.   The Fighting Illini website has parsed out the dates that are relevant to the Illinois baseball team

Next up

Next weekend, Illinois will return to the Coastal Carolina Invitational for three games.  They will play two games against UNC Greensboro and a final one against host Coastal Carolina.  Game time is 11am on Friday against UNC Greensboro. 

Go Illini!


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