Illini 2016 Draft Roundup: Sedlock, Goldstein, Blackburn and Nielsen chosen

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Cody Sedlock: another first round draft choice from the Illini

The Illinois baseball program had some big shoes to fill after last year’s draft.  A total of nine players were drafted from the 2015 team which won the Big Ten championship and went on to the Super Regionals. 

That said, the 2016 Illini team held their own.  This year, four Illini were drafted.  Three pitchers and one position player will go on to play ball in the minors.  Highly touted Cody Sedlock was drafted with the 27th pick, the second year in a row an Illini was chosen in the first round (Tyler Jay was picked in round one in 2015).  Also worth mentioning, the Illini have five top ten picks in the last two years, a new record. 

Here are the Illinois baseball draftees of 2016… 

 

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Cody Sedlock – RHP

Baltimore Orioles
1st round – 27th pick

The wait is over for Cody Sedlock and I have to say the pundits were pretty spot on with their predictions.  In mock drafts, most had Sedlock drafted somewhere between the #25th and the #30th pick. 

Cody brings a lot of speed to the mound as well as endurance.  I’ve watched his pitch speeds throughout the games this year.  Even into the 8th and 9th innings, he consistently kept his velocity of his fastball in the 90s.  The Orioles got a good one. 

FightingIllini.com highlights

 

 

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Jason Goldstein – C

Seattle Mariners
9th round – 267th pick

Jason Goldstein improved his draft presence by eight rounds from last year.  The Mariners are getting an all-around solid catcher with star potential.  The durable Goldstein can hit well especially in the clutch.  He is smart behind the plate and  can handle pitchers well and will be a positive influence in the dugout. 

Most importantly, he has been a part of a winning team and knows what to do to get to the next level.   

FightingIllini.com highlights

 

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Nick Blackburn – RHP

Arizona Diamondbacks
16th round – 479th pick

Like Goldstein, reliever Nick Blackburn improved his draft position from last year.  As their save guy, Blackburn was a key element of the 2015 Illini team which went to the Super Regional.  Coach Hartleb continued to call on him to close out games for Illinois in his senior year.  As a result, he racked up 11 saves, third in team history.  

FightingIllini.com highlights

 

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J.D. Nielsen – LHP

Los Angeles Angels
34th round – 1026th pick

I admit when I saw his name come up in MLB’s Draft Tracker, I did a double take.  It was listed as “Justin” Nielsen.  In all the years he’s been here, I’ve known him as “J.D.”

Regardless what you call him, J.D. Nielsen has been one of my favorite pitchers to watch on the mound.  He’s a 6’6” lefty with a unorthodox sidearm delivery which baffles the opposing batters.  Coach Hartleb was never shy about using Nielsen.  He left the Illini with 79 career appearances which is third best in team history. 

FightingIllini.com highlights

Congratulations to all of the Illini draftees!


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Just prior to MLB Draft, Cody Sedlock gets All-American nod

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Two days shy of the 2016 MLB Draft, Cody Sedlock received some more good news.  The junior right-hander was named to the All-America first team by Baseball America.  Sedlock becomes only the 14th player in Illinois history to be named a first team All-American and only the second right handed pitcher (Jason Anderson was the first).

Baseball America’s All-America teams of 2016

IMG_3607-001Illinois can boast two All-America first team selections in the past year,  though.  Lefty Tyler Jay was named just last year.  The last time two players in Orange and Blue were All-American in two years was in 1947-1948. 

With the MLB Draft starting on Thursday, Cody Sedlock’s stock keeps rising.  The latest mock draft by CBS predicts him being chosen 23rd, if that means anything.  Anything can happen though. 

The MLB Draft begins 6pm CT on June 9 and will continue through June 11.  I’m not going to jinx anybody but I’m pretty positive that Cody Sedlock won’t be the only Illinois player’s name we will hear called. 

IMG_3320-002One person who his no doubt happy about Sedlock’s situation is Illinois pitching coach Drew Dickinson (left).  With the successes of Sedlock and Tyler Jay, people are noticing Dickinson now. 

After his fifth season at Illinois, he has now been chosen by Team USA to coach at the USA Tournament of Stars.  Dickinson will debut on June 21-26 down in the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.  He will be the pitching coach for Team United. 

Good luck to Drew!!


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Thank you Illinois Baseball Senior Class of 2016!

It’s May 31st so before the month is out and we close out the 2016 season, I want to recognize the Senior Class of 2016.  This class has quite a lot to to be proud.

The Class of 2016 went 145-74-1 for a .661 winning percentage.  They also boasted a 64-30 record against Big Ten teams.  According to FightingIllini.com, this is the winningest group since the 1960-1963 class who had a .695 winning percentage.

  Of course, it probably goes without saying, that these guys all participated in the most successful season in Illinois baseball’s history in 2015.  That included a 27 game win streak, an incredulous 50-10-1 record and a chance to host both the Regional and Super Regional.

The 2016 team was a young team but we are going to say farewell to few valuable players.  Here they are are.

Nick Blackburn- P

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Nick has been Coach Hartleb’s go-to guy out of the pen the last few years when the game is on the line.  During Illinois’ record-breaking 2015 season, he had a fantastic year.  He went 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 19 strikeouts and only three walks.  He didn’t let Vanderbilt get to him during the Super Regional mowing them down for 1 2/3 innings.

He was rewarded by getting drafted by the Mets in 2015 but chose to finish out his last year in the College of Business.  He did pretty well on the mound too.  He earned 11 saves (3rd in team history) in 24 appearances with a 3.73.

Jason Goldstein- C

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For the past few years, Jason was the heart and soul of this team.  With solid defense, clutch offense and important presence in the dugout, he was the face of Illinois baseball.

Jason’s 2015 season was pretty phenomenal especially during certain weeks.  Within a period of eight days, he drove in 12 runs including a grand slam against Eastern Illinois.

After an All-Big Ten First team selection in 2015, Jason was drafted in the 17th round by the Dodgers.  He chose to stay at the University of Illinois to finish out his senior year as an industrial engineering major.  Illinois baseball were happy about that as Jason led the team in hitting (.312), on-base percentage (.402), and rbis (29) in 2016.  Goldie was rewarded with the All-Big Ten Third team honor.

Michael Hurwitz- IF

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Two years ago, I was sitting in the visitors’ section during a game and a few opposing fans were snickering about Mike’s diminutive frame while he was up to bat.  I bit my tongue but I wanted to tell them that Mike was currently leading the Big Ten in walks and OBP.

Unfortunately, Mike was red-shirted in 2015 due to injury.  He got his chance to play in 2016 and he certainly made the most of it.  This time, he wasn’t content with just taking a walk though.  Mike contributed a 15-game hit streak during the month of April.  On top of that, he extended his on-base streak to 25 games.  He ended the season with a .276 batting average and a .392 OBP, third on the team.

Andrew Mamlic- P

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Like Goldstein, Mamlic has earned his undergraduate degree in engineering, civil engineering to be specific.  Not only that, he plans to receive his master’s by August of this year.

Mamlic really came out of nowhere this season.  A walk-on his freshman year, he didn’t get much time on the mound till 2016.  Then he was thrust into the starting role like his fellow Illinois club member, Doug Hayes.  With his 5-7 record, Andrew should have won more games with his very respectable 3.70 ERA.  He also only allowed 18 walks in 73 innings.

Andrew pitched key games against Missouri (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Michigan (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).

Charlie Naso- P

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What a senior year for Charlie Naso!

He led all pitchers with a 2.25 ERA.  It seems so long ago but in 2014, he showed greatness as a sophomore when he didn’t allow a run all year in 11 appearances.  Charlie only appeared in six games in 2015 but he was ready for action this year.   Charlie had a 2-0 record in 22 appearances and 28 innings to go along with his team leading ERA.

Word has it that Charlie is going into broadcast journalism so we probably haven’t heard the the last of him yet.

J.D. Nielsen- P

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When a call to the pen for J.D. Nielsen was made, I always appreciated his cool walk-on music.  His tall frame and unorthodox sidearm pitching delivery was fun to watch when he was on the mound as long as you weren’t the batter.

Coach Hartleb began to rely more and more on J.D. as the 2015 season passed.  By the end of the season, he had a 2.92 ERA and was considered a valuable asset when games were close.

J.D. continued his success in 2016 with a 5-1 record and 34 strikeouts in 30 innings.  He ended his time at Illinois with a third-best 79 appearances.   J.D. was honored with a Big Ten Sportsman Award by Illinois.

 

Good luck and thank you to each of the Senior Class of 2016!


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Sedlock named B1G Pitcher of the Year!

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It shouldn’t be any surprise to any Illini fan.  Starter Cody Sedlock has been chosen as the Big Ten Pitcher of Year.  He becomes the second Illini in as many years to garner the award after Tyler Jay earned it in 2015. 

Sedlock was efficient.  He had a conference ERA of 1.67 and an opposing batting average of .188.  Sedlock was durable.  In his last five starts, he lasted at least nine innings.  He was the nation’s only pitcher to last into the extra innings.  But most of all, Sedlock was intimidating.  His 116 strikeouts leads the Big Ten and broke the Illinois school record.

IMG_3607Junior Cody Sedlock received national attention on April 22nd when he pitched 10 2/3 shutout innings against Ohio State and struck out 14 batters.  Sedlock didn’t get the win but the baseball writers across the country noticed.  Since then, all eyes have been on him and he has responded brilliantly.  Sedlock allowed six earned runs in 34 innings pitched since that game. 

The season numbers on Sedlock:

W-L: 5-3, IP:  101 1/3, H: 80, ER: 28, BB: 31, K: 116

Sedlock was also unanimously named All-Big Ten First team.  While he just finished his junior year, no one is under any illusion that he will be returning.  In fact, some mock drafts show Sedlock will be going as high as the #32 overall pick in the MLB Draft on June 9-11. 

But that’s not all…

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On the 2016 All-Big Ten Third team is catcher Jason Goldstein.  As a former catcher himself, Coach Hartleb has always put a big emphasis on the position of catcher.  Goldstein is no exception.  He has the rare combination of defensive skills, prowess with the bat and leadership in the dugout. 

Goldstein led the team in hitting for almost the whole season.  He ended up with a .312 batting average.  Hitting in the middle of the order, Goldstein was Hartleb’s go-to guy for driving in runs.  He led the Illini with 28 rbis. 

 

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Cole Bellair was chosen for the 2016 All-Big Ten Freshman team.  After several successful outings from the bullpen, Bellair was called on by Coach Hartleb to be the Sunday starter.  Cole responded well though sometimes he didn’t always get offensive support he deserved.  He ended the season with a 3.34 ERA, fourth on the team. 

 

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Senior reliever J.D. Nielsen was nominated as the Illinois Sportsman Award honoree.  At 5-1 with a 3.60 ERA (and a quite unorthodox delivery), the Winterset, Iowa native was a reliable option out of the bullpen when games were close.  Nielsen finished his career with 79 appearances for the Illini.  That ranks him a cool third all-time among all Illinois pitchers.

Congratulations to Cody, Jason, Cole, and J.D.!! 


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No tourney but Illinois baseball ends 2016 on winning note

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Illinois won their last two games against Michigan but it just wasn’t enough.  Going into the last game, their fate was in the hands of Michigan State and the Spartans let them down.  As a result, Illinois will not be going to the Big Ten Baseball Tournament next week.  This will be only the third time that Coach Hartleb will not be advancing to the tournament in his eleven-year tenure. 

Iowa snuck into the Tournament as the 8th seed.  They will be joining Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland and Michigan State in Omaha next Wednesday to begin a new chapter in the 2016 season. 

 

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It was Senior Day on Saturday.  As an alum, I know graduating from the University of Illinois is a significant event. Congrats to Nick Blackburn, Jason Goldstein, Michael Hurwitz, Andrew Mamlic, Charlie Naso, and J.D. Nielsen.  Volunteer Coach Kyle Hudson (above with his family) was also recognized for returning and getting his degree. 

The attendance on Saturday’s game was a healthy 2,007.  That’s pretty good considering the students have gone home after the semester.  In fact, the Illini have just announced that 2016 is the second best year for attendance.  More than 23,000 fans attended games in 2016.  Not too surprisingly, last year’s season was record breaking as far as attendance not too mention in other areas as well. 

At this point, it seems a bit superfluous but here are the recaps for the games this past weekend….

 

Game #49 / May 19, 2016    
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Draft prospect Cody Sedlock pitched what for some could have been a career game on Thursday night.  In a complete game, he gave up just three hits.  Unfortunately, one of those hits was a solo homerun to Johnny Slater, his first of the year.  The Illini offense couldn’t get anything going and the 1-0 was the final score. 

Sedlock has pitched nine or more innings for four of the last five games.  That’s a stat that the scouts are definitely paying attention. 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

Photos from Thursday

 

Random Ramblings

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The mood on the field after the game was a little emotional especially for those seniors who would not be returning next season like Michael Hurwitz and Jason Goldstein.

 

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That’s not to say some didn’t get a little goofy as well. 

 

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Those of you at Saturday’s game may have seen these guys rooting for Dan Rowbottom.  They were wildly pantomiming rowing a boat and shouting “Row, Row, Row!” whenever Dan was up to bat.  It wasn’t long before other fans joined in too. 

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I think this fan participation is awesome. I hope these guys come back next season and start this up.  I spoke to Dan after the game and he was definitely appreciative of support. 

Thanks, Illini!


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One last hurdle: Illinois hosts Michigan starting Thursday

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Pat McInerney leads the Illini with six homers

It’s down to the last three games.  With a home series against Michigan (34-17, 12-8 Big Ten), ninth-place Illinois (26-22, 10-11 Big Ten) needs to make up at least one spot in the standings in order to obtain a bid to participate in the Big Ten Tournament which starts next week.

Sounds easy?  Let’s take a look.

Out of the thirteen teams in the Big Ten, six already know what they’re doing next week.  Northwestern and Purdue are already out of contention.  Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio State and Nebraska have clinched and no matter how they perform, they will be going to Omaha.

Seven teams are left in contention for the remaining four spots.  They are Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Penn State, Illinois, Iowa, Rutgers.  FightingIllini.com has worked out all the scenarios (and they are plenty) so we don’t have to.


It goes without saying that winning is better than losing but it’s worth repeating.  Winning two games this weekend certainly won’t be a sure thing (see the graphic above) but it is a whole lot better than just one.  

I’m sure the players are doing their best to ignore the standings and just trying to concentrate on Thursday’s game.  There is a reason for the cliché, “Taking it one game at a time”. 

 

Illini players to keep an “I” on

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  • New single season strikeout record holder Cody Sedlock (109 Ks!).
  • Dan Rowbottom (above) who is currently the 10th toughest hitter in the nation to strike out.  Only 8 Ks in 150 at-bats!
  • All of the graduating Illini seniors!  Congrats to all of you!

Fighting Illini weekend preview

 

Pitcher probables

Coach Hartleb is sticking with Andrew Mamlic this series.  He’ll be on the mound for Saturday’s game.  Thursday starter Cody Sedlock will try to add more to his record-breaking 109 strikeouts. 

  • Thursday  Cody Sedlock: 2.63 ERA
  • Saturday  Doug Hayes: 6-5, 3.12 ERA
  • Sunday  Andrew Mamlic: 4-7, 3.95 ERA

Don’t forget… this weekend starts early.  first game starts on Thursday.  Also, there has been a time change for Saturday’s game.  First pitch is at 3:30pm.

 

Illinois Field
Champaign, Illinois
Thu. May 19

6:00 pm CT

Fri. May 20

6:00 pm CT

Sat. May 21

3:30 pm CT

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Michigan Wolverines

Michigan_GoldM

W-L: 34-17,  12-8 Big 10

 

My take on Michigan:

Michigan has done well out of the gate.  They won their first five games of the season then added a nine-game winning streak at the beginning of April.  A couple weeks later, they had another seven-game streak.  The good news for the Illini?  Big Blue has lost their last five including a sweep by Ohio State. 

Michigan has won twice as many games as they’ve lost and they can thank their offense.  They have scored 340 runs with a .310 batting average.  Leading the way is Harrison Wenson with his 7 homeruns and 54 rbis and Cody Bruder who is hitting  .382 for the season. 

Quick take:  Time for our offense to feast on their lefty pitching. 

 

Random Ramblings

Interesting stat here.  In Cody Sedlock’s last seven starts, Illinois is 5-2 however he has only been awarded one of those wins.  Sedlock has been phenomenal in this stretch but the offense hasn’t always been there.  The relief staff have picked up the wins in the other games, two of them in extra innings. 

One hitter who HAS been there is Pat McInerney.  He now leads the team with six homers.  Not only that but some of his dingers have been long bombs.  Like this one against Indiana last weekend. 

Need a couple more this weekend, Pat.

 

Fan Overview

C-U fans, get out to the park!  Lots of baseball fun!  The last set of baseball cards will be given away on Thursday.  A coozie giveaway on Friday!  They will be doing a Spring Cleaning then too, giving away promotional items from years past (that sounds fun to me!).

Finally, Saturday is Senior Day which is always a special day recognizing all of the outgoing seniors on the team. Sullivan-Parkhill will be giving away Rally towels.  Hope we don’t need them!

Live video from FightingIllini.com on Thursday and Friday while BTN live streams it on Saturday.  Dave Loane is your guy at the mike on WDWS AM-1400 and Fighting Illini Sports Network.  There’s always @illinoisbaseball on Twitter with the witty updates or the live stats from FightingIllini.com.

Go Illini!!    


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Series loss to Indiana forces Illinois’ hand

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Down to the wire for Coach Hartleb

One step forward.  Two steps back.

That’s the story of Illinois baseball as they enter the last regulation series of the season this weekend against Michigan.  One week after they defeated Maryland two games to one, they lost two of three to first place Indiana despite a formidable appearance (again) by Cody Sedlock on Friday.  Sedlock struck out 12 batters in 9 1/3 innings and kept it close as the Illini won a close one 2-1 in extras.

Sedlock didn’t get the win but his 12 strikeouts broke the team’s single season strikeout record.  His 109 Ks broke John Ericks’ record of 108.  Of course, Sedlock still has at least one start left.  FightingIllini.com has listed the accomplishments of Sedlock this season and they are many.

Despite some good pitching (combined seven runs allowed), the Illini offense couldn’t come up with enough runs against Indiana to win either Saturday or Sunday.   That gives Illinois a 26-22 overall record and more importantly, a 10-11 conference mark.  That puts them back in ninth place and not an ideal spot.  Eighth place or higher is where you need to be to advance to the Big Ten Tournament.

So what do the Illini need to do to advance?  The interns at FightingIllini.com have crunched the numbers and have provided us all of the viable scenarios.  The simple scenarios?  If Illinois wins all three, they’re Omaha-bound.  If they lose all three, they’re watching from home.  Any other scenario, it’s a little more complicated.

Game #46 / May 13, 2016
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There were some who thought Cody Sedlock was in line for another Big Ten Pitcher of Week award after this performance.  His 9 1/3 inning performance didn’t get the win but with 12 strikeouts while giving up just one run, he kept the Illini in it.

Pat McInerney blasted a homerun early in the game and Michael Hurwitz drove home Trent Hammond in the top of the 11th for the winning run.  Amongst the hoopla surrounding Cody Sedlock, Coach Hartleb took the time to recognize Hammond’s “at-bat of the game” in which he fouled off pitches until he drew that 11th inning walk.

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

Random Ramblings

If you haven’t noticed, Tyler Jay is having a pretty decent spring for Class A Advanced Fort Myers.  Tyler has won his last two starts for the Miracle and struck out 13 batters in his last 13 1/3 innings.

Here he is getting interviewed by the Fort Myers Miracle PR guy:

Speaking of Andrew Mamlic, he leads the team with seven losses.  Don’t for a minute think that’s indicative of his performance though.  He’s been a hard luck pitcher this season with a respectable 3.95 ERA.

Michael Hurwitz had a great run.  After 26 straight games of getting on base, Indiana finally got to him.

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Mike Sterk

Finally, long time Illini baseball fans will remember relief pitcher Mike Sterk who pitched for Illinois from 2006-2009.  Well, Mike has traded his glove in for a keyboard.  He now blogs as “barstoolcarl” at barstoolsports.com as has been quite successful.

In fact, his latest column got  Cub pitcher Jake Arrieta’s attention.   Mike even went on the radio show 670 the Score to talk about it.  You can hear the show here.

Next up

Don’t forget… the series against Michigan starts on Thursday.  6pm is the start time.

Go Illini!


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Illinois hurlers to be tested by first place Hoosiers

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Cody Sedlock

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Doug Hayes

With Illinois baseball’s tournament chances teetering on the fence, they travel to Bloomington, Indiana this weekend to play their last road series of the season.  It will be a tough challenge for Illinois (25-20, 9-9 Big Ten) as they take on the first place Indiana Hoosiers (29-17, 13-5 Big Ten) who have found momentum lately.

The good news?  So have the Illini.  The Illinois pitching staff own the last three Big Ten Pitcher of the Week awards.  Cody Sedlock and Doug Hayes have new hardware on their mantles and they have the chance to prove themselves against the Hoosiers.

Just one game separates ninth place Illinois from Ohio State, Maryland, and Penn State who are all tied for the coveted eighth place which qualifies for the Big Ten Tournament which starts on May 25 in Omaha.

Illini players to keep an “I” on

  • Cody Sedlock and Doug Hayes who combined, have won the last three Big Ten Pitcher of the Week awards.
  • Cody Sedlock (yes, his name deserves repeating) who is on the verge of breaking John Erick’s single-season team record for strikeouts.  He just needs 11 more.
  • Michael Hurwitz who has not only extended his on-base streak to 24 games but has also started another hit streak of five games to go with his earlier one of 15 games.

Fighting Illini weekend preview

Pitcher probables

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Andrew Mamlic gets another shot

What’s this?  A change in the weekend rotation?  Coach Hartleb is obviously going with Cody Sedlock and Doug Hayes who have won conference awards in the recent past but there’s a switch for Sunday’s assignment.  Andrew Mamlic is back in the starting role again.  Mamlic has done well in his midweek starts lately which probably prompted Hartleb to give him another try down the stretch.

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 5-2, 2.82 ERA
  • Saturday  Doug Hayes: 6-4, 3.01 ERA
  • Sunday  Andrew Mamlic: 4-6, 3.75 ERA

 

Bert Kaufman Field
Bloomington, Indiana

Fri. May 13

5:05 pm CT

Sat. May 14

1:05 pm CT

Sat. May 15

12:05 pm CT

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Indiana Hoosiers

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W-L: 29-17,  13-5 Big 10

 

My take on the Hoosiers:

Make no mistake, there is no team in the Big Ten with more momentum than Indiana right now.

Last weekend, the Hoosiers took first place for themselves after defeating tough Minnesota who are now in second place.  On top of that, they just won an exciting non-conference game against Kentucky on a walk-off hit.  That all adds up to a first place spot in the Big Ten and players who are confident as heck.

The upside for Illinois?  As hyped as Indiana’s baseball team is, their overall record is only lightly better than Illinois’.

Quick take:  Can two B1G PoW winners shut down the Hoosier offense?  Let’s hope for a nice 2-1 weekend like last time.

 

Random Ramblings

Get ready for next weekend’s home series against Michigan.  It will be the last regular season series of the season.  With any luck, it will be a meaningful one, deciding if the Illini will go on the Big Ten Tournament.

Heads up!  The series against Michigan will take place on Thursday-Friday-Saturday to accommodate the tournament schedule the week after!

 

Fun stats:  Cody Sedlock is seventh in the Big Ten among qualifiers with a 2.82 ERA.  Look just a little deeper and Doug Hayes is only 11th in the conference with a 3.01 mark.

Probably the most impressive stat is Sedlock’s touted strikeout total of 97.  He not only leads the conference but he does it by a margin of 13 over the next highest (84 by Dalton Sawyer of Minnesota).  I mentioned earlier that Sedlock is on the cusp of breaking the single-season record for strikeouts this year.  If all goes well this Friday, he may also break Marv Rotblatt’s team record for strikeouts in the conference season.  He just needs six strikeouts to surpass Rotblatt’s record of 61.

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Finally, Michael Hurwitz has played in 44 games so far in 2016.  He has reached base in all but three.

Fan Overview

You know, Bloomington is only an hour or two away from Champaign.  Part of me is thinking “road trip”.  If I don’t go, there are plenty of ways to follow the game, though.

BTN Plus has a video stream if I want to shell out a few bucks.  I always enjoy listenign to Dave Loane and Co. on WDWS AM1400 or the Fighting Illini Sports Network.

As always, there is live stats from IUHoosiers.com and Twitter updates from @illinoisbaseball.

Go Illini!!    


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Illinois wins Terp series, inches toward tourney bid

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Cody Sedlock: pitching the Illini to success

Three games, two wins.  Now the Illini have an improved conference record of 9-9. Movin’ on up!

Illinois (25-20, 9-9 Big Ten) comes home from Maryland (25-21, 10-8 Big Ten) with a big series win.  It was a low scoring weekend.  Illinois scored 10 runs in the three games, Maryland scored 9. Illinois had some timely hitting and pitching and that made all the difference.

So what does the series win mean for Illinois’ chances at the Big Ten Tournament?  Here are the current standings in the Big Ten.  While the Illini are still in ninth place, they have closed the gap a little.  They are only one game behind three teams (Ohio State, Maryland, and Penn State) who are 10-8.  In addition, Illinois is trying to distance themselves from 10th place Iowa who is 8-10. 

Long story short:  It’s getting kind of cozy in the middle of the standings now.  Only two games separate sixth place and 10th place right now. 

Regardless, this series win was really important for the Illini right now.

Major highlights

  • Cody Sedlock retires last 22 batters in a row in Game 1 on Saturday.
  • Jason Goldstein clinches the series with a game-winning rbi in top of the ninth on Sunday.
  • Michael Hurwitz extends his on-base streak to 24 games.

 

Game #43 / May 7, 2016    
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20160504-IMG_6025Cody Sedlock was back on track on Saturday’s game which was postponed from Friday due to weather.  Not only did he get the win at College Park but he retired the last last 22 batters in the 4-2 Illini win.  In all, he gave up just three hits in the complete game, giving up two runs, one earned. 

Dan Rowbottom (above) continued on his hot streak.  Rowbottom racked up two more hits and two ribbies.  That gave him six hits and seven rbis in the last three games. 

Fighting Illini Game Wrapup

Random Ramblings

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Tanner Roark in his Illini days

Whenever former Illini Tanner Roark comes to Wrigley to pitch, I get a tad conflicted as a Cub fan.  I of course, want him to well but not at the expense of the Cubs.  Well today, Roark pitched for the Nationals against the Cubs and the result was about as perfect as I could expect.  Roark pitched brilliantly, allowing just four hits and no earned runs while striking out seven in six innings.  Yet the Cubs won the game 4-3 on a walk-off homer by Javy Baez. 

I’m sure Roark isn’t happy about the outcome but as an Illini fan, I like to see him do well regardless. 

Next up

No midweek games and the Illini are off to another away series next weekend.  They play tough Indiana who are now 13-5 in the conference.  First pitch is at 5:05 pm in Bloomington. 

Go Illini!


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Entering the homestretch: Illinois travels to Maryland

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Dan Rowbottom celebrates after scoring on an error after his 3-run double on Wednesday against the Salukis

As the Big Ten season enters the homestretch, Illinois is in need of some wins if it wishes to gain a Big Ten Baseball Tournament bid.  With three conference weekends left, they have a 7-8 Big Ten record (23-19 overall) and currently are in ninth place.  They need to place eighth or higher to get that tourney bid. 

Their first challenge this weekend is an away series at College Park, Maryland against the tough Terrapins. Maryland is currently 9-6 which puts them at fifth place in the conference.  

Midweek Game Update

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Rowbottom knocks in the winning runs in Wednesday’s win

Illinois is coming off two big midweek wins.  Andrew Mamlic’s tough pitching and homers by Pat McInerney and Jack Yalowitz helped the Illini claim Bragging Rights against Missouri with a 6-4 win on Tuesday in Sauget, Illinois. 

On Wednesday, they defeated the Salukis of Southern Illinois 6-3 on a key 3-run double by Dan Rowbottom in which he scored on a throwing error.  Here are some photos from the Illini-SIU game on Wednesday

Illini players to keep an “I” on

 

  • Dan Rowbottom coming off his four-rbi performance on Wednesday
  • Doug Hayes who became the second Illini in two weeks honored with the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award
  • Michael Hurwitz who despite having his 15-game hit streak snapped, still has a 21-game on-base streak going

Fighting Illini weekend preview

 

Pitcher probables:  Doug Hayes will look to repeat.  Cole Bellair, who had an atypical rough outing last Sunday, will not.  As for Cody Sedlock, the offense just needs to give him a little support and we should be golden.

  • Friday  Cody Sedlock: 4-2, 3.04 ERA
  • Saturday  Doug Hayes 6-3, 2.93 ERA
  • Sunday  Cole Bellair: 2-3, 3.52 ERA

    


Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium

 
College Park, Maryland

Fri. May 6

5:30 pm CT

Sat. May 7

1:00 pm CT

Sat. May 8

11:00 am CT

vs

Maryland Terrapins

maryland

W-L: 24-19,  9-6 Big 10

My take on the Terrapins:

Like the Illini, the Maryland Terrapins went to the Regionals in 2015 so coming into the 2016 season, they is a bit of fear factor with them.  This year, the Terps are little less threatening but they haven’t done badly either.  With an overall 24-19 record and a 9-6 conference record, they are currently in fifth place and poised to make the Big Ten tournament unless a breakdown happens. 

One reason why the Terps are doing so well is Mike Shawaryn.  He holds the all-time Maryland record for strikeouts.  The matchup between him and Cody Sedlock on Friday will be one that many around the country will be paying attention. 

Quick take:  Despite W-L records, I think Illinois has a good chance to make up ground here. 

 

Random Ramblings

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Take another look at the Big Ten standings.  Things may not be as bleak for the Illini as others are making it out to be.  The biggest hurdle is not the standings per se.  The Illini are tied for ninth with Iowa and they need to be in top eight to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament which begins on May 25th in Omaha, Nebraska. 

No, the biggest challenge to overcome are the teams that Illinois will be playing from here on out.  After this weekend’s Maryland matchup (a formidable one but one I think Illinois can handle), it only gets tougher.  Indiana at Bloomington is next and after that comes ranked Michigan.  Indiana is second in the Big Ten with a 11-4 conference record and Michigan has a 9-5 mark.  Both are very solid teams.  Illinois’ saving grace is that they end their regular season at home against Michigan. 

Can it be done?  I think so.  If they could get lucky against both Maryland and Michigan as well as holding their own against Indiana, a tourney bid might be in the cards. 

Fan Overview

You won’t find Illinois traveling any further East for a Big Ten game than this.  All three games will be streamed on BTNPlus.com.  Dave Loane’s smooth and silky voice will grace AM-1400 WDWS airwaves and on FightingIllini.com 

If nothing else, you can follow online with live stats from UMDTerps.com

Go Illini!!    


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