Battle at Busch game postponed till April 23rd

A quick announcement… Due to the weather in St Louis, the game that was scheduled for tonight will be postponed and played in two weeks, on April 23.  The time of the game will be 6:30pm. 

If you bought a ticket for the Missouri-Illinois, don’t worry.  The ticket will be honored for that game. 

One other scheduling change… Sunday’s game in Evanston against Northwestern will be played at 2pm instead of 1pm. 


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Illinois close out weekend with Purdue victorious, 8-3

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Casey Fletcher gets congrats from the batboy in the 3rd inning while Ronnie Muck watches on

On Sunday, it was a warm afternoon and the Illinois bats were pretty hot too.  With the help of thirteen hits, the home team scored eight runs to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers 8-3 in the final game of the weekend series.  That gave the Illini a 2-1 series edge for the series and a win for the conference home opener. 

Illinois starter Rob McDonnell came away a winner in his third start of the year.  He gave up four hits and two runs in five innings and is 2-0 for the 2014 season. 

This puts Illinois at a respectable 14-11 mark and a 2-1 conference record.  Off to a good start!

 
 
Game #25 / March 30, 2014    
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The game was never really in doubt today.  The Illini offense made sure of that.  They scored seven runs in the first three innings and five before the Boilermakers even put one across the plate.  From there, it was just a matter of keeping Purdue from scoring.  Fortunately, this year we have a reliable bullpen.  After McDonnell came out after his admirable job, Nick Blackburn, Ronnie Muck, Tyler Jay, and Reid Roper combined for one hit in four innings.  The unfortunate part for Blackburn was that one hit was a solo homer.  Regardless, Nick recovered and got the next two outs with no problem. 

Everyone seemed to hit today.  Will Krug, Reid Roper, Ryne Roper and David Kerian all contributed two hits.  One of Reid Roper’s was a hustling triple in the seventh which seemed to catch Purdue’s fielders off-guard. 

Box Score

Wrap up

My photos from Sunday’s game are here

Weekend Wrapup

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Will Krug:  .500 for the weekend

Our bottom two guys in the lineup, Ryne Roper and Adam Walton have really killed this weekend.  Walton finished up 6 for 11 and Roper went 4 for 11… Will Krug hit .500 (6-12)…Michael Hurwitz continues his Eddie Gaedel imitation by walking five times in the past three games.  He now has 23 walks on the season almost double of the next highest Illini…    Over the weekend, the entire pitching staff had a nice 2.67 ERA. 

Next up

On Wednesday is the Battle for Braggin’ Rights at Busch Stadium against Missouri.  Game time is 6:30.  If you’re interested in going, you can still get tickets here

Go Illini!


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Castellanos helps Illinois tie series against Boilermakers

Ryan CastellanosIn Saturday’s game against Purdue (5-17, 1-1 Big Ten), the Illinois squad (13-11, 1-1 Big Ten) combined timely hitting with another fine performance by sophomore righty Ryan Castellanos to tie the weekend series 1-1. 

Castellanos pitched his first complete game as an Illinois pitcher and improved to 3-1 for the win.  He allowed nine hits but more importantly,he gave up no walks for the second start in a row. 

 
 
Game #24 / March 29, 2014    
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Offensively, it was the top and the bottom of the order that did the most damage.  Will Krug and Michael Hurwitz combined for three hits and three rbis while Ryne Roper and Adam Walton both had two hits and scored a total three runs.  Hurwitz plopped a double and Krug slapped a triple to help the cause. 

Krug’s triple came in the 7th which was the key inning for the Illini.  Ahead 3-2, the Illini scored three runs to cushion their lead. 

Box Score

Wrap up

In other news

Kevin DucheneSome of you have been wondering what has happened to our ace starter, Kevin Duchene.  Duchene, who won Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor earlier this season, hasn’t been on the mound for a couple of weeks.  I asked SID Matt Wille a week or so ago and he assured me they are just being careful due to forearm soreness.  The local paper, the News Gazette, also just published an article on Duchene’s situation

To sum up, coach Hartleb is just being careful to not place any more strain on Duchene’s forearm.  They’ll bring him out when he ready.  Duchene’s forecast?  He’s good to start playing catch next week. 

Also, here some good news about a former Illini. It was announced today that former Illinois starting pitcher Tanner Roark has made the 25-man roster for the Washington Nationals

Next up

Illinois and Purdue play the rubber game of their series on Sunday.  Game time is scheduled for 1pm.  Pitcher Rob McDonnell is the probable starter for the Illini.

See you at the ballpark!


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Missed opportunities: Illinois drops Big Ten opener vs Purdue 4-3

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Firstbaseman David Kerian flashes some leather during Friday’s game

It’s spring break but the Illinois baseball player cut theirs short to host the Purdue Boilermakers for the Big Ten opener this weekend at Illinois Field.  Unfortunately, game one was no vacation.  The Boilermakers held off an Illini ninth inning rally to take the opening game of the series, 4-3. 

The good guys almost pulled it off.  With the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning, it looked like Illinois was going to pull on out of the hat.  Will Krug managed to drive home a run with a hit to center.  A line drive out later, a bang-bang double play to the Purdue pitcher ended the Illini rally as quickly as it started and the visiting team went away happy.

 
The Illinois loss puts them at 12-11 overall but more importantly with an 0-1 conference record. 
 
Game #23 / March 28, 2014    
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I can’t emphasize that despite his loss, how well starter Drasen Johnson did off the mound.  He pitched effectively and minimized the effect of three Illini errors in the first four innings.  When Johnson gave up his second run in the eighth, Coach Hartleb thought he had enough.  Unfortunately.  Purdue kept hitting and ended up scoring three runs that inning, giving them a 4-2 lead. 

Will Krug, who went 2 for 4 with a rbi and a run scored, stole his 13th base of the season. 

Box Score

Wrap up

My photos from today’s game.

 

Next up

Illinois is scheduled to play Purdue Saturday at 3pm at Illinois Field.  Ryan Castellanos will take the mound.  The forecast is mostly sunny and 47 degrees so bring your coat. 

See you at the ballpark!


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Illini Baseball host Purdue for Big Ten opener

Ryan Castellanos

Ryan Castellanos scheduled to toe the rubber on Saturday

As I’m fond of saying this time of year, it’s a whole new season.  Unless you follow the RPI rankings and such, the we start anew in the Big Ten and all games from here on out are what really count.  Not only is a new season from a standings perspective but conference baseball is a totally different brand of play.  It’s more intense and more competitive.  Every game counts! 

With that in mind, the Illinois Baseball team (12-10 will take on the Purdue Boilermakers (4-16) at Illinois Field this weekend for three games. 

The FightingIllini.com weekend preview is up along with the probable starting pitchers. Drasen Johnson (2-3, 3.09) gets the nod for Friday afternoon.  Ryan Castellanos (2-1, 4.00) will take the hill on Saturday and on Sunday, Rob McDonnell (1-0, 2.89) gets his turn.

 


Illinois Field
 
Champaign, Illinois

Fri. March 28

4:00 pm CT

Sat. March 29

3:00 pm CT

Sun. March 30

1:00 pm CT

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Purdue University Boilermakers

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2014 record:  4-16

Purdue had a rough season last year after their fantastic 2012 campaign when they won their first Big Ten championship.  They followed that up with a lackluster 17-34 record in 2013 with an even worse 5-14 conference mark.  There were rumors that things were going to change this year but so far against non-conference teams, they’ve put up a 4-16 record. 

That all said, of their four wins, three have come in the last eight days.  Purdue is showing some signs of life with the Big Ten season around the corner.  They’ve won three of their last five games. 

Purdue’s pitching is a bit down to put it mildly.  Their team ERA of 6.97 is last in the conference.  For that matter, so is their .228 batting average.  Do watch out for Sean McHugh (.333, 3 HR) and Conner Hudnall (14 rbis) though who can contribute with the bat. 

Promotions this weekend include player autographs on Friday and Super Hero Day and post-game wiffleball on Sunday.

Following this weekend’s games

If you can’t make to Illinois Field, you can follow the game via GameTracker or its new Mobile Live version.  WDWS will be broadcasting at AM1400 for local folks and there will be live audio streamed (at cost).  

Speaking of which, they have now started to broadcast the play-by-play outside the Illinois Field press box during games.  Nice touch!  It’s not incredibly loud but if you’re near the press box, you can hear it fine.  There’s nothing like hearing Dave Loane or Lee Zerrusen while watching the Illini. 

Go Illini!


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Illinois Baseball cook the ISU Redbirds 6-1

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Ryan Nagle, Will Krug and Casey Fletcher celebrate after today’s win
I stopped by for the last few innings of Wednesday’s game between the Illini and the Illinois State Redbirds.  The Redbirds came in with a 15-6 record but when I got there, Illinois was putting the finishing touches on a two-run rally in the seventh inning to put them up 5-1.  They were in cruise mode. 

Being a midweek game, Coach Hartleb was getting some playing time in for some of his pitchers.  Six pitchers entered the game including starter Cody Sedlock who struck out four in three innings and allowed one run and four hits.  J.D. Nielsen got his first win of the season by pitching two scoreless innings and striking out three. 

The win puts Illinois at 12-10 now heading into the Big Ten opener at Illinois Field this weekend. 
 
Game #22 / March 26, 2014    
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Goldstein, who had a 10-game hit streak earlier in the season, continues to rake.  Today, he went 4 for 4 with a double and three rbis.  Heck, he even stole his first base of the season.  Goldy now leads the Illini with a nice .408 batting average as well as 15 runs scored. 

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David Kerian and Ryne Roper both contributed two hits today. You can see Roper flashing a little glove in the photo above too.

Box Score

Wrap up

Here are a few photos I took towards the end of today’s game

 

Big Ten Opener

It’s a big weekend with the Big Ten opener against Purdue.  Illinois will be taking on the Boilermakers for three games at Illinois Field.  Friday’s game is scheduled for 4pm. 

See you at the ballpark!


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Illinois Baseball finish off Xavier 3-2, now above .500

After 13 innings and four hours of play, a baseball coach might look to some unconventional methods to do what it takes to win a ballgame.  That occurred in Sunday’s game against Xavier when Illinois Coach Dan Hartleb called for the suicide squeeze with Zack Kolakowski (left) at the bat in the bottom of the thirteenth inning with Casey Fletcher on third base.  The score had been 2-2 since the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sure enough, Kolakowski was successful and the Illini won their third straight game.  That gives Illinois a winning record now with a 11-10 mark.

 

Game #21 / March 23, 2014
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Starter Rob McDonnell wasn’t as effective as he was last Tuesday in our home opener against Indiana State.  While he only gave up just two runs, his control was off giving up four walks in 3 1/3 innings and he gave up five hits.  I will say this… he did strike out six batters which might have helped in keeping the Musketeers to two runs.

The big heroes today are those from the Illini bullpen.  Nick Blackburn, Ronnie Muck, Tyler Jay and Reid Roper pitched a combined total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings.  Blackburn was key in getting the Illini out of the 4th inning jam while Tyler Jay pitched a full five innings giving up just two hits.  Reid Roper who pitched the top of the 13th inning, got his first win of the 2014 season.

Offensively, check out Casey Fletcher’s line in the boxscore.  He went 4 for 5 with two doubles.  He of course, scored the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Box Score

Wrap up

 

Next Up

This week, it’s the I-74 Matchup with Illinois traveling to Normal, Illinois to play the Illinois State University Redbirds.  This game is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday at 6pm but FightingIllini.com has announced that this game could be moved to Wednesday due to the weather.  Keep an eye on the Illinois Baseball schedule for up-to-date info.

Go Illini!


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Illinois Baseball sweep twin bill from Xavier

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Castellanos and Kravetz get the job done

Thanks to a pair of solid pitching performances by Ryan Castellanos and John Kravetz as well as some offensive support from the hitting crew, the Illinois baseball team swept the Xavier Musketeers in today’s doubleheader.  Both Castellanos and Kravetz improved their records to 2-1 for the season.  Meanwhile right fielder Casey Fletcher hit his first homerun as an Illini and shortstop Adam Walton went five for five for the day.

The doubleheader sweep evens the Illini record at 10-10 for the 2014 season.

 

Game #19 / March 22, 2014
Game 1
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Ryan Castellanos was really on his game today.  He didn’t allow an Xavier run for the first seven innings, spreading out four hits and no walks.  He did get into a jam in the eighth giving up three hits and a run.  Coach Hartleb called on secondbaseman Reid Roper to relieve Castellanos who promptly coaxed two quick outs then went back out to play second the next inning  (I’d love to see this kind of thing catch on in the majors).  Josh Ferry came on for a near perfect ninth to finish off the Musketeers.  He hit the first batter but erased the runner on a game ending double play.

The Illini didn’t need a lot of runs but the offense were happy to oblige for six.  Ryne Roper contributed two rbis on two hits while Adam Walton went 2 for 2.

Note that the Illini scored four runs, three earned on Xavier starter Vinny Nittoli who entered the game with a 3-0 record and a 0.38.  He now has one in the ‘L’ column and I’ll bet that his ERA has gone up significantly.  Nice going, guys!

Box Score

Wrap up

Game #20 / March 22, 2014
Game 2
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Adam Walton: 5 for 5, 3 stolen bases and triple for the day

It wasn’t until midway through the second game when I realized that shortstop Adam Walton seemed to be getting on base a lot throughout the day.  When I later checked the box scores, sure enough, he was 5 for 5 for the afternoon.  Not only that, he hit a triple and stole three bases (his first three of year, actually).  Walton is starting own his role as shortstop, too.  He made a couple impressive plays in the field during game one.

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Casey Fletcher hit homer #1…

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…and gets a congratulatory hug from Adam Walton

The wait is over for Casey Fletcher.  He got his first Illini homer out of the way.  His solo shot in the fourth helped buffer the 3-1 lead before the Illini broke it open with a three-run rally in the fifth.

It was good to see the John Kravetz we know and love back on the mound today.  Like Castellanos, he pitched efficiently and only gave up two runs in 8 innings.  Nick Blackburn pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

By the way, the Illinois pitching staff didn’t walk ONE batter all afternoon today.  I’ve noticed that our pitchers have been pretty stingy with the free passes all season and the stats bear that out.  They’ve allowed 45 walks this year while opponents have 79 base on balls.

Box Score

Wrap up

More of my photos from today’s doubleheader against Xavier are at the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery.

 

One more game

Assuming the cold weather isn’t an issue, there’s one more game against Xavier.  Game time on Sunday is at noon.  Rob McDonnell, who was lights out in the Illinois Field home opener, is the scheduled starter for the good guys.

See you at the ballpark!


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Illini Baseball can’t get it going against Xavier, 6-2

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Cody Sedlock keeping it close for the Illini

In game one against the Xavier Musketeers (12-7) tonight, Illinois Baseball (8-10) just couldn’t get the hits they needed.  While they weren’t exactly out of it until late in game, it was difficult to get the offense going.  All told, Xavier outhit the Illini 14-3.

While that seems like a lot, the Illini were within striking distance for most of the game.  Thanks to Reid Roper’s third homer of the year in the sixth inning, the score was 3-2 Xavier at the top of the ninth.

We can thank freshman righty Cody Sedlock for keeping it as close as it was.  After starter Drasen Johnson gave up three runs in the third inning, Sedlock inherited two baserunners and did a fantastic job getting out of the inning with no further damage.  Not only that, he pitched five more scoreless innings.  The impressive line on Sedlock tonight:  5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 5 K.

 

Game #18 / March 21, 2014
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Reid Roper gets congrats from David Kerian and Jason Goldstein after his two-run homerun in the sixth

In case you’re wondering, Jason Goldstein got hit today to extend his to double digits.  He singled in the fourth and went 1 for 3 for the game.  He has now has hit in 10 straight games.

Reid Roper’s two-run homer has now tied him for the team lead in rbis with Ryan Nagle with 14.

Box Score

Wrap up

I posted a few photos on the Illinois Baseball Report photo gallery…   including this one of Champaign Mayor Don Gerard.

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It’s no secret that Mayor Gerard (left) is a fan of baseball and of the Illini baseball team in particular.  He still likes to talk politics at the ballpark though.  :)

 

Let’s Play Two!

There’s a doubleheader tomorrow against Xavier.  Game time for the first game is noon.  Weather is looking a little better right now with temps in the 40s and partly sunny.

Ryan Castellanos (1-1, 5.91) will start for Illinois in game one and John Kravetz (1-1, 4.91) is back to pitch in game two.

See you at the ballpark!


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Xavier visits Illinois for a four-game series

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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.  IMG_3814

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).

 

Illinois Field

Champaign, Illinois

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

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Xavier University Musketeers

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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.

Go Illini!


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