#3 Illini come back with a vengeance vs Rutgers 28-13


Casey Fletcher welcomes Jason Goldstein at the plate after his grand slam

I’ve seen a lot of college ball games but I don’t think I have seen anything like what I’ve witnessed today.  It was an amazing combination of a comeback/slugfest/blowout.  For those who left early, I am truly sorry. 

In a record-setting day, #3 Illinois (43-6-1, Big Ten 19-1) obliterated Rutgers (17-34-1, Big Ten 5-16) in Sunday’s game in a comeback fashion.  The Illini rallied like they had a mission from a 9-5 deficit to defeat the Scarlet Knights 28-13.  Reid Roper scored a school record six runs while driving in six and hitting two homers including one grand slam.  Jason Goldstein continued his hot hitting by going 5 for 5 with game-tying grand slam homerun of his own. 

The win for the Illini gives them a 24-game winning streak which ties them with Texas A&M for the highest this season.  Most importantly, Illinois’ magic number to win the Big Ten Championship is down to TWO! 



Game #50 / May 10, 2015    





Let’s look at the numbers for this game because they are phenomenal…

  • Both team scored 41 runs on 39 hits
  • Eleven homeruns were hit in the game (Rutgers actually had six of them)
  • Illinois scored in every inning but one and scored 11 in the eighth
  • Three Rutgers pitchers gave up five runs each.  One gave up six.  One more gave up four.
  • Thirteen pitchers were used by both teams
  • Twelve Illini got a hit and and FIVE got more than three hits

One thing is for sure, the Illinois’ team ERA is going up after today.  Unfortunately, that is especially true for Illinois starter John Kravetz who didn’t last two innings and gave up six runs.  The Rutgers team had something to prove.  After one and half innings, Rutgers was ahead 6-2 and by the fifth, Illinois was down 9-5. 


Ryan Nagle launches one in the second inning

But Illinois kept plugging away.  A two-run double in the first by Casey Fletcher kept it close and a Ryan Nagle three-run homer in the second helped even more.  But it was when Jason Goldstein tied it 9-9 in the fourth inning with a grand slam we realized we had a game on our hands. 


However, I don’t think anyone was really prepared for what happened in the eighth inning.  Fourteen batters came to the plate and eleven of them scored.  It culminated  in a Reid Roper grand slam homer.  Even our new scoreboard couldn’t accommodate the double digit number. 

IMG_9647Though our pitching had most certainly seen better days, J.D. Nielsen (right) is the deserving winner of this game.  He came in the game in the sixth and pitched through the seventh and didn’t allow a hit or a run.  Looking at this boxscore, that’s an amazing feat.  J.D. is now 2-1 for the season. 

Big performances today:  Reid Roper 4 for 6, 2 HR, grand slam, 6 runs, 6 rbis, Jason Goldstein 5 for 5, 3 runs, 4 rbis, grand slam HR, Ryan Nagle 4 for 6, 4 runs, 3 rbis, HR, David Kerian 3 for 6, HR, 3 runs, 3 rbis, Pat McInerney 2 for 6, 4 rbis, Will Krug 3 for 5, 2 runs, 2 rbis…the list goes on. 



Random Ramblings

My photos from Sunday’s game are here.`  There are three pages of them because well, 28 runs means lots fun things to take photos of. 


Story time… I had been holding on to the baseball that Jason Goldstein had hit for his first career college homerun since last year.  I collected it on my way out of the park with the intention of giving it to Jason or his family.  Yesterday, I finally had the chance to give it to his mom Terri. 

During the game today, Terri told me that just before her son’s game-tying grand slam she pulled the ball out and held in her hand for good luck.  Well, Terri, just make sure you pack that good luck charm before you leave for the Big Ten Tournament!!

I haven’t seen the stats around the conference but I got believe that one of our guys is going to be chosen for B1G Player of the Week.  Right now, I’m having a hard time choosing which one.  And you know what?  That’s ok with me. 

Next up

Illinois has one more Big Ten series left with Nebraska before the Big Ten Tournament.  Make note:  The schedule is moved up one day.  The games will be played on Thursday-Friday-Saturday in order to prepare for the Tournament. 

Thursday’s game against the Huskers is at 6pm.

Nice work, Illini!!

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23 in a row!!! #3 Illinois takes two from Rutgers on Saturday


#3 Illinois (42-6-1, Big Ten 18-1) took two games from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (17-33-1, Big Ten 5-15) in a Saturday doubleheader.  The Illini won the first game 5-4 behind the strong pitching of Kevin Duchene (9-1) and 13 hits by the offense.  Tyler Jay garnered his 10th save of the season. 

Game Two starter Drasen Johnson (8-2) gave up only one run in his outing while Jason Goldstein pounded a homer to add two more rbis to his two-game total of five.  J.D. Nielsen earned his second save while Illinois won 6-2. 

The doubleheader sweep now gives Illinois a 23-game winning streak going into the Sunday game.against Rutgers.  Illinois’ 42 wins is now sixth best on the program’s all-time list.  The Illini’s magic number to clinch the Big Ten championship has now been reduced to just 3. 



Game #48 / May 9, 2015    





Things were pretty tight for a while in Game 1.  After four and half innings, it was still 1-1 and fans were wondering when the game was going to break open.  In the bottom of the fifth, Rutgers sort of fell apart mentally.  A series of miscommunications on the field, mental mistakes and just plain fundamental baseball mistakes helped the Illini to a rally.  Jason Goldstein took advantage and drove in two with a base hit.  David Kerian followed up with an rbi hit of his own.  In all, four runs scored making the score 5-1. 


Meanwhile, Kevin Duchene (9-1, above) gave up two whole runs in seven innings on five hits.  Cody Sedlock came in relief in the eighth but it just wasn’t his day.  He immediately loaded the bases on two hits and an error.  Tyler Jay was called in with the bases loaded and no outs to get the Illini out of the jam.  Jay did induce a double play but not without allowing a run-scoring hit first.  Another run scored on a passed ball as well putting Rutgers within one run 5-4.

Jay came out for the ninth and put down the Scarlet Knights with only one hit.  Kevin Duchene earned his ninth win of the year and Tyler Jay gets his 10th save. 

For the game, Adam Walton and Ryan Nagle both got three hits and Jason Goldstein drove home three runs. 





Game #49 / May 9, 2015    





Starter Drasen Johnson (8-2) was on point for the Illini today for Game Two.  In seven innings, he gave up just five hits and no walks.  That translated to just one run charged to Johnson.


Casey Fletcher congratulates Jason Goldstein after his homerun

Meanwhile, Ryan Nagle and Jason Goldstein weren’t quite done with the bat.  After a Nagle rbi hit in the first inning, Goldstein got the Illini off to an early start in the second game by hitting a two-run homerun putting Illinois up 3-1.  David Kerian added another run in the third driving home Casey Fletcher. 

Adam Walton added another with a triple in the eighth inning scoring Ryne Roper and later scored on a sacrifice fly. 

JD Nielsen came in for the last two innings.  Despite giving up an unearned run, he looked fantastic, striking out three and getting his second save of 2015. 



Random Ramblings

My photos from Game 1 are here and photos from Game 2 are here. 

Weather-wise, they couldn’t have planned it better.  It was a perfect day for baseball for both games.  Then once Game Two was over, it started to rain.  Let’s hope tomorrow’s weather let’s us play one more. 

For my money, Rutgers is playing tough.  Despite being 5-15 in the conference and playing the #3 team in the nation, they’ve played two close games.  If it weren’t for some mental errors on their part, we might be looking at some different scores.


#1 and #2 guys Adam Walton and Ryan Nagle (above) combined for nine hits today.  I’m no baseball whiz but when your leadoff guys get on, you’re going to win games. 

Next up

Illinois will try for its 24th straight win and sixth straight Big Ten sweep tomorrow against Rutgers.  John Kravetz will be on the mound.  Game time is 11am. 

Go Illini!!

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Friday game postponed; Saturday doubleheader set vs Rutgers

It was a beautiful day here in Champaign-Urbana on Friday, really.  Then, an hour or two before game time the rain came and the inevitable announcement from @illinibaseball


So, we get double the fun on Saturday with a doubleheader against Rutgers.  The big question is, will they still do the “As Seen on TV” promotion?  My wife has her eye on that nifty Veggeti thing.

The weather looks iffy tomorrow but not near as nasty as it did tonight.  I’m willing to gamble that the boys can play through it. 


Random Ramblings

Game or no game, there is still big news on the home front.  Illinois has officially submitted their bid to host an NCAA Regional at Illinois Field!  The NCAA Regional is scheduled to take place May 29th-June 1.  Of course, the bid has to be approved.  The official announcement whether the bid is approved will be made on May 24th.  If it is, that’s when tickets will become available. 

Fighting Illini Baseball has all the info here.  Good luck!!!


IMG_5032Illinois may be a nationally ranked team but academics is still an priority as it has always been.  Case in point, Reid Roper just was announced as a Capital One first-team Academic All-District honoree.  Roper may lead the team with 38 rbis but he also sports a cool 3.55 GPA as an education major. 

Roper is one of eleven athletes to receive the honor from the district. Congratulations Reid! 




NCAA.com has a good feature article on Tyler Jay who they are calling our “Diamond in the bullpen”.  Baseball America wrote something up on Mr. Jay as well, for that matter. 

Why the media fuss?  Probably because Tyler Jay has been now projected by MLB Draft to get picked 19th in the First-Year Player Draft.  Those that know me know I hate projections especially when it comes to college players but I still think this is noteworthy regardless.  Most importantly, it’s a recognition of Tyler Jay’s talent. 

See you at the ballpark!!

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#3 Illini host Rutgers in return to Illinois Field


The Illinois baseball team is coming back to Illinois Field after a seven game road trip.  Since they left, they risen in the polls some.  This weekend, the now #3 Illini (40-6-1, Big Ten 16-1) will host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for a three-game set. 

It’s not the first time the Illini baseball team has played Rutgers; the two teams played each other way back in 1989.  However, this will be the first matchup of the two as conference rivals.  First place Illinois hopes to not only extend their 21-game winning streak and best winning percentage in NCAA baseball (.941) but put some distance themselves and second place Iowa (15-3).

There is an outside shot that Illinois could nail down the Big Ten Championship this weekend.  Their magic number is now 5.  With a sweep of Rutgers and two losses by Iowa would give the Orange and Blue the B1G Title.  So for this weekend, we’re all Minnesota fans.  Spread the word. 

The Fighting Illini weekend preview is up and there’s no change to the game plan.  Scheduled starters for the Illini:

  • Friday  Kevin Duchene: 8-1, 0.78 ERA
  • Saturday  Drasen Johnson: 7-2, 2.28 ERA
  • Sunday  John Kravetz: 4-0, 3.02 ERA


Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. May 8

6:00 pm CT

Sat. May 9

3:00 pm CT

Sun. May 10

11:00 pm CT


Rutgers Scarlet Knights


W-L: 17-31 Big Ten 5-13

My take on Rutgers: 

Unlike the other Big Ten newcomer Maryland (33-16, Big Ten 11-7), the Rutgers Scarlet Knights aren’t having quite as a successful year in their initial campaign.  Through this week, they are 17-31 and have a 5-13 record in the Big Ten.  

Indeed while the Terps have even found themselves ranked, the Knights are scrambling to win.  The 2015 season has been streaky for Rutgers.  They have two four-game win streaks interspersed in between even more losing streaks. 

Rutgers have just won their last game against St. Peter’s which broke a five-game losing streak.  That streak was partially due to second division Penn State who swept the Knights last weekend.  Not only did they win on Tuesday but according to their weekend preview, they preserved a win by completing a earlier suspended game this week as well. 

Tom Marcinczyk is the man with the big stick on Rutgers.  He leads or is tied for the team lead in practically every meaningful offensive category including hitting, homeruns, runs and rbis.

Quick take:  I could say that Rutgers should not be an be big problem for the #3 team in the country but I don’t want to jinx anyone.    Y’all know how baseball works.


Random Ramblings

Big Ten baseball guru Chris Webb of B1G Baseball was in attendance during last weekend’s sweep against Ohio State in Columbus.  I asked him to describe the Illinois baseball team in just five words. 

How did he respond?

“Polished, professional, intense, fun and complete”

It’s nice when a fan recognizes your accomplishments… even better when those outside your immediate circle start lavishing these kinds of words.  For those who follow college baseball, you probably know Chris but if you don’t, follow him @ChrisMWebb on Twitter. 

IMG_2314Award kudos:  it has been announced this week that Illini catcher Jason Goldstein has been put on the official watch list for the 2015 Johnny Bench Award.  The Bench award is given to the top catcher in college baseball and the committee will decide on a final winner during the College World Series week. 

Johnny Bench Award Watch List

In addition to handling one of the best pitching staffs in the country, Goldstein is hitting .281 with six homers with 32 rbis.


IMG_5015More award kudos:  Speaking of watch lists, the list for the Golden Spikes Award is narrowing and Tyler Jay’s name still remains on it.  Jay remains one of 30 players on the Golden Spikes award candidates. 

Final voting for the award will commence on June 12th. 

30-Player Golden Spikes Award Watch List

Tyler Jay has a minuscule 0.73 ERA with a 5-1 record with nine saves.  He has struck out 54 and only walked four in 49 1/3 innings. 

See you at the ballpark!!

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Kerian wins B1G Player of the Week

IMG_8016Monday is a big day in college baseball and lately, it’s becoming much more relevant for the Illinois baseball team.  Today, not only did the Illini rise once again in the polls but David Kerian was honored with the Big Ten Player of the Week.  It was the second week in a row and the third time overall this season an Illini player was honored with the award.

What did Kerian do last week?  Not much, really.  He only had multiple hits in all four games, hit an even .600 and pretty much won Sunday’s game against Ohio State outright.  In all, Kerian scored six runs and drove in five for the week. 

With his 11th homer on Sunday against the Buckeyes, Kerian now leads the Big Ten.  He is third in batting with a .366 batting average. 

Congratulations, David!


On an unrelated note, Today is the birthday of a very dedicated Illini baseball fan and a faithful reader of IBR.  You know who you are.  Happy Birthday!!

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Poll watch: Illinois baseball gets #3 ranking from Collegiate Baseball!


Three! 3! III!  No matter how you say it, it looks great! 

Illinois baseball has been ranked #3 by Collegiate Baseball.  That’s a jump from a #8 ranking from CB from last week.  It goes without saying it’s the highest ranking Illinois baseball has received in school history (though that’s been true for a few weeks now). 

Collegiate Baseball isn’t the only one recognizing the Illini after their 4-0 week and their sweep of #23 Ohio State.  All major polls moved Illinois up in the ranking including Perfect Game who ranked them #4. 

Take a look at where Illinois is ranked this week: 


National Poll

Illinois’ Ranking

Previous Ranking




Perfect Game






Collegiate Baseball



Baseball America



USA Today Coaches’ Poll




Other Big Ten teams ranked: 

  • Maryland (32-16) is ranked #28 by NCBWA, #25 by PG
  • Iowa (33-12) is ranked #20 by NCBWA, #18 by D1B, #19 by PG, #15 by CBB, #16 by BA and #20 by USAT

After getting swept by Illinois, Ohio State (31-13) dropped out of all the polls. 


Other notables:

LSU (40-8) is still ranked #1 by all major polls. 

This weekend, Illinois begins a six game home stand and takes on Rutgers.  Friday’s game begins at 6pm/

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Blackjack! Illinois at 21 straight wins after Ohio State sweep!

IMG_8016Remember when Illinois when lost games?  No, I can’t either.  It’s a faint memory. 

Today in Columbus, #6 Illinois (40-6-1, 16-1 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to a lucky 21 by completing a sweep against the #23 Ohio State Buckeyes (31-13, 12-6 Big Ten).  Illinois came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 6-2. 

Rob McDonnell got the win in relief, his seventh of the year.  David Kerian (left) continues to contribute to the Illinois cause.  His 3rd inning solo homerun put Illinois on the board and he gave them the lead for good in the 4th inning with a two-run base hit. 

With a 16-1 conference record, first place Illinois has now five Big Ten sweeps in five straight weekends in a row.  Not surprisingly, they are beginning to pull away from the pack.  They are 1 1/2 games up on second place Iowa (15-3) in the conference standings and 4 1/2 ahead Ohio State (12-6) who is clinging on to third place despite this weekend’s sweep. 


Game #47 / May 3, 2015    





Seven wins for Rob McDonnell after his appearance on Sunday

McDonnell got the win but give John Kravetz some credit.  He kept the game close for the four innings.  While he gave up two runs in the first, he kept the Buckeyes scoreless for the balance of his appearance. 

Illinois added to their lead in the sixth when Will Krug drove home a run on a squeeze.  Adam Walton then drove home two with a base hit. 

While the Illini were doing their bat magic, McDonnell who came in the fifth inning, was mowing down the Buckeyes.  It wasn’t until the eighth when they finally got a hit off Big Bob.  McDonnell struck out four batters in four scoreless innings for the win.  And just to give the scouts and pundits something to drool over, Tyler Jay was brought in to pitch the ninth.  Oh sure, you bet he pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

Big boppers today:  David Kerian (3 for 4, 3 rbis, HR), Adam Walton (2 for 5, 2 rbis), Casey Fletcher (2 for 4, 2 runs) and Reid Roper (2 for 5). 



Random Ramblings

David Kerian now leads the Big Ten in homeruns (11), slugging (.621) and is third in hitting (.366).  With Illinois’ success, is he making his case for Big Ten Player of the Year?  The next two series will be telling. 

While I’m bragging on Illini in among the Big Ten leaders, take a look a the pitchers.  We all know that Tyler Jay (0.73) and Kevin Duchene (0.78) are 1-2 in ERA (they are actually #2 and #3 in the entire country).  But Illinois currently also has four of the top five in ERA including McDonnell (1.93) and Drasen Johnson (2.28).  Throw in Kravetz (3.02) and you can make it five of the top 14. 

Finally, you know that Illinois is doing well when their players are consistently headlining the pollsters feature articles

Next up

Now that their successful seven game road trip is over, Illinois is coming home.  They will finish out the regular season with two Big Ten series at Illinois Field.  This weekend will feature Rutgers.  Game time is 6pm,

Welcome home, guys!

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Illinois Baseball takes Buckeyes series with 6-5 comeback win… is a sweep in the making?


If you’re in a pinch, you can always call Tyler Jay

In a roller coaster game that featured several lead changes, Illinois eked out a key win against Ohio State on Saturday 6-5.  The win is Illinois’ 20th in row and gives at least a series win going into Sunday’s game against the Buckeyes. 

Starter Drasen Johnson got just enough support to earn his seventh win for the year.  When things got a bit rough, Tyler Jay was called in and pitched 2 1/3 innings for his ninth save. 

The win gives first place Illinois a 15-1 record in the Big Ten and places Coach Hartleb third on the Illinois all time list for wins with 315 passing George Huff. 


Game #46 / May 2, 2015    




IMG_3680-001Down 2-1, it was Adam Walton who drove home two in the fifth inning to put Illinois up for the first time.  His 2-run single made the score 3-2 Illinois.  After OSU came back with two in bottom of the inning, it wasn’t long before the Orange and Blue came back.  In the sixth, Casey Fletcher scored on a Will Krug single then Ryne Roper came through with another scoring David Kerian.  Illinois was then up 6-4. 

After OSU scored a run in the seventh, Tyler Jay was brought on.  He gave up just one hit and no walks for the balance of the game. 

Starter Drasen Johnson pitched a solid six innings for win number seven.  He spread out seven hits for four runs, three earned. 



Random Ramblings

It was batters #6 through #1 who came through on Saturday.  They drove in AND scored five of the six runs on Saturday.

The Fighting Illini came up with this new graphic with the stats of the Illini during their current 20-game winning streak. 

Speaking of cool graphics, they’re also working on a nifty one that has the workings of a great poster. 



Next up

Illinois will look to sweep #23 Ohio State on Sunday.  Game time is 12:05pm CT and John Kravetz is on the bump. 

Way to go, Illini!

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Illinois’ Duchene pitches a three-hit gem to defeat #23 Buckeyes

IMG_1732Illinois baseball is just not content for settling for an undefeated April.  Not stopping there, #6 Illinois baseball easily defeated the #23 Ohio State Buckeyes in the first of their three-game set.  Behind the formidable pitching of starter Kevin Duchene, Illinois won 8-1 for their 19th straight victory.

The Illini came through with some clutch hitting too.  Their first four runs were scored with two outs.  Casey Fletcher drove home what would be the winning run in the first inning with a two-out, two-run single.  From there, the Illini kept hitting, complimenting Duchene’s performance.  Each Illini starter got a hit for a total of 13 for the team.

The victory Friday puts distance between the Illini (14-1) and third place Ohio State (12-4) in the Big Ten standings.

Game #45 / May 1, 2015
vs Ohio-State-Buckeyes-Logo




Tonight, Kevin Duchene was classic Duchene.  In eight innings, he allowed just three hits and just one while striking out seven and walking just one.  From all reports, he controlled the game from inning one and didn’t relinquish it till he was relieved in the ninth.  Doug Hayes took over in the ninth and pitched a scoreless frame to finish off the Buckeyes.

Offensively, Ryan Nagle, Adam Walton, David Kerian and Will Krug all contributed two hits.  Nagle drove home three runs for the game and Casey Fletcher had 2 rbis.  Walton had a run-scoring triple in the second, as well.


Random Ramblings

What we saw out there was your typical 2015 Illinois team on Friday night.  The bigger question is, “Was that really what to expect from the Buckeyes?”  I don’t think so.  I’m expecting a bigger battle in the next two games.

By the way, Duchene upped his career record to amazing 21-3 and probably a more amazing 9-0 conference career record after Friday night.

Next up

Illinois will hope to make it an even 20 in a row on Saturday.  Drasen Johnson will be on the mound and game time will be at 2:05pm at Bill Davis Stadium.

Way to go, Illini!

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#6 Illinois gears up for pivotal series versus #23 Ohio State


Reid Roper hopes to add to his team-leading 38 rbis this weekend

This weekend, two ranked Big Ten baseball teams are facing off. It’s being billed as the Clash in Columbus.  #6 ranked Illinois (37-6-1, 13-1 Big Ten) and #23 Ohio State (31-10, 12-3 Big Ten) are taking on each other in what is probably the most significant series for either team so far this season.  Each team has so much to gain from the potential success so you know that the pressure is on. 

The Fighting Illini weekend preview is up!  Scheduled starters for the Illini:

  • Friday  Kevin Duchene: 7-1, 0.74 ERA
  • Saturday  Drasen Johnson: 6-2, 2.11 ERA
  • Sunday  John Kravetz: 4-0, 2.92 ERA


Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium
Columbus, Ohio

Fri. May 1

5:35 pm CT

Sat. May 2

2:05 pm CT

Sun. May 3

12:05 pm CT


Ohio State Buckeyes


W-L: 31-10 Big Ten 12-3

My take on Ohio State

Currently on a six game winning streak, the Buckeyes have finally peaked the interest of the pollsters.  As well they should.  Their 31-10 overall record and 12-3 conference mark is laudable and that’s with a four-game losing streak thrown in. 

You won’t find pitchers with sub-1.00 ERAs on the Ohio State squad but generally speaking, their pitching is almost on par with the Fighting Illini (I said ALMOST).  There isn’t a bad arm in the rotation and their bullpen is deep. 

OSU’s hitting is solid but aside from perhaps Pat Porter (.314, 6 HR, 32 rbis) and speedster Troy Montgomery (.307, 39 runs, 26 steals), the hitting may not be as flashy as Illinois’ up and down the lineup. 

The Buckeyes hold the series advantage by a slim margin at 101-96-2.  Illinois took the last game these two met in 2014, a Big Ten Tournament matchup in which the good guys sent the Buckeyes packing. 

Quick take:  This will be Illinois’ toughest series to date.  Hit them hard and hit them early.

Random Ramblings

Current bragging points for the Illinois baseball team:IMG_5014

  • 18-game winning streak
  • 13-1, best conference start since 1911
  • 37-6-1, best start in school history
  • 37-6-1, highest win % in NCAA
  • Ranked #6 in nation, highest ever
  • 2.31 ERA- fifth in nation

I want to thank The Champaign Room for all of their Illinois baseball coverage lately (and I’m not just saying that because their using my photos either).  I do appreciate them spreading the news about the best show in town. 

They’re not the only ones recognizing the Illini, of course.  Noted pollsters D1Baseball have featured Kevin Duchene a couple times already in their Field of 64 Projections features.  Yes, these are projections but it’s well worth the read.

Finally, if you want a good summary of this weekend in the Big Ten, Chris Webb is your go-to guy.  He previews the teams and games for you at B1GBaseball.com.

Good luck, Illini!!  

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