Rob McDonnell earns a spot in the weekend rotation
After a quite successful home opener on Tuesday, the Illini are ready for their first home weekend of the year. They will be hosting the Xavier Musketeers. The Cincinnati-based team will be coming tomorrow for a four-game series. There will be double the pleasure on Saturday as a doubleheader is scheduled. Xavier, a long-time Atlantic 10 member just made the jump to the Big East last year. This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
With four games, Illinois has a lot of options from the rotation but one thing that struck me is that Kevin Duchene is not listed as a probable starter. Duchene leads the team in ERA (1.70) and innings pitched (37) and has two wins so far this year.
One thing that isn’t surprising is that Rob McDonnell (1-0, 1.50) has earned another start after his lights out performance on Tuesday against Indiana State. He’ll be taking the hill on Sunday. Drasen Johnson (2-2, 2.48) will be going Friday, Ryan Castellanos (1-1, 5.91) will start the first game on Saturday and John Kravetz (1-1, 4.96) will be the hurler in Game 2 on Saturday.
By the way, Illinois catcher Jason Goldstein (right) has a nine-game hitting streak going. Right now, he’s hitting .404 (21 for 52).
Fri. March 21
4:00 pm CT
Sat. March 22 (DH)
12:00 pm CT
3:00 pm CT
Sun. March 23
12:00 pm CT
2014 record: 11-7
Winning their first four games out of the gate in 2014, the Musketeers have settled down a bit and played .500 ball since. Of note, they’ve played two Big Ten teams this season and lost both. Admittedly, they were tough representatives of our conference. They lost 2-1 to Indiana on March 5th and were soundly beat by Ohio State just this week.
The Musketeers’ Vinny Nittloli looks to be tough hurler. In four starts, he’s 3-0 with a microscopic 0.38 ERA. That’s one earned run in 24 innings. He’s also given up just two walks. Also an outfielder, Nittoli has contributed two homers to the Musketeer cause.
Following this weekend’s games
Now that the boys are home, WDWS radio will be covering the action. You can tune into broadcasters Dave Loane, Brian Moline (Fri), Tim Ditman (Sat) and Lee Zerrusen (Sun) at AM 1400.
There’s the always reliable GameTracker to follow the games online. If you have a mobile device though, try out Mobile Live Stats. Illinois Baseball SID Matt Wille tells me it’s much more compatible for smartphone devices. I gave it a try the last time out and he’s right.
Speaking of media coverage, the Big Ten and Big Ten Network have announced the full broadcasting coverage of Baseball and Softball for the 2014 season. Unfortunately, the Illini will be shown on just two games and the Big Ten Network won’t be making their way to Champaign. They’re both away games.
2014 Season Promotions
The Illini baseball program has announced a bevy of marketing promotions for the 2014 season. There’s Baseball Bingo every game now! Yay!
Mark your calendar for April 27th. That’s the date for Illinois Baseball’s annual Bleacher Bum Barbeque now becoming quite a popular event in the spring. This year, we’ll be facing the Indiana Hoosiers. There are quite a lot of new promotions too.
“…promotions scheduled for this year include Super Hero Day (March 30), As Seen on TV Day (April 11), Country Day (April 12), Kids Club Day (April 13), Earth Day (April 22), Faculty/Staff Night (April 25), RST Day (May 2) and Senior Day (May 4).”
Super Hero Day. Sounds fun! A complete schedule of the promotions can be found here.
Filed under: Game Previews on March 20th, 2014 | Leave a Comment! »