Ronnie Muck drafted by the Angels in round 30

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On the last day of MLB’s First-Year Player Draft, Illini bullpen stalwart Ronnie Muck got the call.

With the 899th pick in the 30th round, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim chose Muck.  The right hander from Maine South (Park Ridge, IL) graduated this past year and pitched four years for the Illinois baseball program.

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In four years, Ronnie Muck was always a solid reliever from the pen.  In four years, he tabulated a 3.62 ERA in 102 innings with 81 strikeouts.  More importantly, he only gave up 88 hits with a .235 opposing batting average.  Statistically, his junior year was his best with a 2.70 with just nine walks in 26 2/3 innings.  He also pitched in two different NCAA regionals.

Muck’s career college stats

Congratulations Ronnie!!


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Adam Walton named Freshman All-American Shortstop

IMG_3924-001Congrats to Illini shortstop Adam Walton.  It was announced yesterday that Walton was honored as an Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Shortstop.

Here is the full list of Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honorees.

Walton topped all Illini with a .329 batting average and scored 22 runs while maintaining an 18-game hitting streak during the 2014 season.

In other news, today the MLB First-Year Player Draft began.  No news yet on Illini players yet but tonight’s activities included the first few rounds.  Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber was chosen in the 4th round as the Big Ten’s first pick and highest in Indiana history.

Keep an eye on the draft the next two days here.

Good luck, prospective Illini!


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Spartans end Illini’s tournament run 11-2

On Friday, Illinois gave it their best shot but eventually the Spartans’ offense caught up to them.

The #3 seed Illinois (32-21) got an early lead against Michigan State (31-25) and had a 2-1 lead as late as top of the seventh inning.  But then things went sour and the Spartans tied in the seventh.  Illinois proceeded to give up five runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth.  That sealed a Spartan win and finished the Illini’s bid in the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha possibly ending their 2014 season.

 

Game #53 / May 23, 2014
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Starter John Kravetz pitched a great game against the rival Spartans spreading out six hits in 6 2/3 innings and allowing just 2 runs, one earned.  The Illini’s first run came in the second inning when Ryan Nagle drove home Casey Fletcher who doubled earlier, on a sacrifice fly.  Illinois’ second run occurred in the third when Jason Goldstein IMG_6584-001drove home Will Krug on a two-out double.

It has to be difficult for senior Ronnie Muck (left), who has been one of Illinois’ most reliable relievers in the past two years to finish his college baseball career in the way he did.  Everyone knows his five-run on 1/3 innings performance is in no way indicative of his overall value to the ball club.  I’m sure many would like to see Illinois get a NCAA bid just so Muck can vindicate himself.

Boxscore

Wrapup

Next up

Speaking of which, Coach Dan Hartleb thinks that Illinois is one of best NCAA bubble team out there and he’s doing his best to promote that:

“I’m really proud of this team.  I do believe we are a team that can go into a regional and compete and even win a regional. If you look at our résumé with our record against Top 100 and Top 25 RPI teams, we may be the best bubble team, so hopefully those are things the committee looks at. I think we are worthy of a bid, but I also know that committee has a tough job because there are other teams that our worthy.”

Hartleb makes a good case but I’m sure there are ten or fifteen other coaches making similar arguments.  We will find on Monday if Illinois’ season will continue on to the Regionals as an at-large selection.  The NCAA Selection Show will be at 11am Monday on ESPNU.

By the way, keep an eye on Dewi Krug’s photo gallery.  She’s been posting pictures all year and as Will Krug’s mom, she was in Omaha all week.  Soon, I’m sure she’ll be posting photos from this week’s games in Omaha.

Good luck Illini!


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Illini find their bats against Ohio State at Big Ten Tournament 6-5

Kevin DucheneOn day after the #3 seed Illinois Baseball team (32-20) couldn’t find their bats in Game One of the Baseball Big Ten Baseball Tournament in Omaha, they turned it around.  At TD Ameritrade Park, they provided all the offense starting pitcher Kevin Duchene (left) needed against #7 seed Ohio State in their 6-5 win.

Duchene (4-1) was pretty effective given the 6-5 score.  Of the five Buckeye runs, only one was earned.  He gave up just five hits and walked two in his six innings.

It probably helped that the pressure was off Duchene.  From the first inning on, the Illini never fell behind in the game and only for a short inning were they tied.  A key error in the seventh inning helped the Illini put two runs on the board and take the lead for good.

 

Game #52 / May 22, 2014
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It was a team effort today.  Every starter in the Illini lineup got at least one hit.  The top five (Krug, Walton, Kerian, Goldstein and Reid Roper) contributed two hits as did Kelly Norris-Jones who spear-headed the key seventh inning with a lead off basehit.

IMG_6156Once Duchene was pulled after six innings, Nick Blackburn (left) and Tyler Jay did him justice by pitching a combined three innings of scoreless ball.  Jay earned his 10th save of the 2014 season.

 

Boxscore

Wrapup

Next up

What happens next?  I guess it depends on what happens in tonight’s game between Nebraska and Michigan State.  On Friday afternoon at 3:30pm, Illinois will face the loser between those two.  That’s a tough call.  Nebraska is a tough team but the Spartans despite their win earlier in the tourney may still be harboring some grudges against the Orange and Blue.  Regardless. it will be John Kravetz (6-1) on the mound and THAT’s good news for the Illini.

The winner of that game goes plays on Saturday and that’s when you know things are getting exciting.

For the full Big Ten Tournament bracket and other info, check out Tournament Central.

Go Illinois!!


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Spartans find revenge against Illini at Tourney, 2-1

Like almost every other one of his starts this year, Drasen Johnson did his part. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough.

IMG_4512In Game One of the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, the Fighting Illini couldn’t get the offense going against Michigan State.  While Johnson struck out a career high ten batters and only allowed two runs and just one earned in seven innings, the Illini could only muster a run on a walk by Ryne Roper in the third inning.

Coach Dan Hartleb on Drasen Johnson today:

“Drasen has been good for us all year, but we haven’t given him any run support at all.  He had a tough first two innings but battled his way through it. The winning run was an inning where we didn’t talk on defense and didn’t get an out on a bunt play. Drasen deserved to win again today, but we didn’t get our jobs done.”

 

Game #51 / May 21, 2014
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Johnson has had a hard luck 2014 season.  Despite a 2.91 ERA in 15 starts, he has a 5-7 record.  He’s allowed two or fewer runs in a game eight times this season and the Illini offense average 2.4 runs per game when he starts.

It was Cam Gibson who got things going for Michigan State today with a leadoff homerun in the first inning.  I saw his intensity in the Spartan series at Illinois Field and I knew he would be ready to even the score.  He certainly didn’t waste any time.

Boxscore

Wrapup

 

Next up

The Illini are in the loser’s bracket now at the Big Ten Tournament.  To stay in it, they’ll need to win.  It will be another 9am game on Thursday this time against #7 seed Ohio State who lost against Nebraska.

For the full Big Ten Tournament bracket and other info, check out Tournament Central.

Go Illinois!!


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Seven Illini honored by Big Ten

Six fighting Illini baseball players were awarded with All-Big Ten honors yesterday.  In addition, two were named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team…

 

Jason Goldstein, Catcher
All-Big Ten Second Team
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IMG_3924-001 Adam Walton, Shortstop
All-Big Ten Second Team
All-Big Ten Freshman Team
John Kravetz, Pitcher
All-Big Ten Second Team
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IMG_4614-001 Tyler Jay, Pitcher
All-Big Ten Second Team
Will Krug, OF
All-Big Ten Second Team
Illinois Team Sportsman Award
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IMG_6179 Casey Fletcher, OF
All-Big Ten Third Team
Ryne Roper, 3B
All-Big Ten Freshman Team
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Congrats to all seven honorees!

Here is the full list of All-Big Ten award winners:

ALL-BIG TEN FIRST TEAM
C – KYLE SCHWARBER, IND
1B – SAM TRAVIS, IND
2B – Pat Kelly, NEB
SS – Jake Yacinich, IOWA
3B – DUSTIN DEMUTH, IND
OF – Brad Hartong, IND
OF – Jimmy Pickens, MSU
OF – Michael Pritchard, NEB
DH – Scott Donley, IND
SP – JOEY DENATO, IND
SP – CHANCE SINCLAIR, NEB
SP – Christian Morris, IND
RP – Luke Harrison, IND

ALL-BIG TEN SECOND TEAM
C – Jason Goldstein, ILL
1B – Blake Headley, NEB
2B – Jake Mangler, IOWA
SS – Adam Walton, ILL
3B – Nick Day, IOWA
OF – Will Krug, ILL
OF – Jackson Glines, MICH
OF – Ronnie Dawson, OSU
DH – Blaise Salter, MSU
SP – John Kravetz, ILL
SP – Christian DeLeon, NEB
SP – Tanner Tully, OSU
RP – Tyler Jay, ILL

ALL-BIG TEN THIRD TEAM
C – Joel Fisher, MSU
1B – Josh Dezse, OSU
2B – Scott Heelan, NU
SS – Travis Maezes, MICH
3B – Troy Kuhn, OSU
OF – Casey Fletcher, ILL
OF – Will Nolden, IND
OF – Eric Toole, IOWA
DH – Dan Potempa, IOWA
SP – Mick VanVossen, MSU
SP – Alec Crawford, MINN
SP – Greg Greve, OSU
RP – Zach Hirsch, NEB

ALL-BIG TEN FRESHMAN TEAM
C – AUSTIN ATHMANN, MINN
1B – MATT HOPFNER, NU
2B – JOHNNY NATE, MSU
SS – Adam Walton, ILL
3B – Ryne Roper, ILL
OF – Ryan Boldt, NEB
OF – JOE HOSCHEIT, NU
OF – RONNIE DAWSON, OSU
DH – Carmen Benedetti, MICH
SP – Brett Adcock, MICH
SP – CAM VIEAUX, MSU
SP – TANNER TULLY, OSU
RP – Jake Kelzer, IND

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
SAM TRAVIS, IND

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Joey DeNato, IND

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Tanner Tully, OSU

COACH OF THE YEAR
Tracy Smith, IND

SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD HONOREES
Will Krug, ILL
Dustin DeMuth, IND
Jared Mandel, IOWA
Dominic Jamett, MICH
Joel Fisher, MSU
Alec Crawford, MINN
Ty Kildow, NEB
Jack Quigley, NU
Greg Greve, OSU
Tyler Kendall, PSU
Sean McHugh, PUR

Unanimous honorees in ALL CAPS


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Series loss against Huskers gives Illinois a #3 seed in tourney

Kevin Duchene

Is Kevin Duchene slated for Game 1 of the Big Ten Tournament?

It’s probably fitting that the two second place teams who entered this weekend would have one of closest series of the Big Ten weekend.  Both teams have had won their share of three game sweeps but I had a feeling from the start this wasn’t going to be one of them.

A pitchers’ duel on Friday won by Nebraska.  A win by Illinois to tie it on Friday.  And sadly, a comeback win by the Huskers today 7-4.

The loss today puts Illinois at 31-19 and 17-7 in the Big Ten.  It was a important loss as it puts the Illini in third place and gives them a #3 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament next week.

It was an important loss but not critical.  This year, the Illini had the luxury of being further up the standings and not battling for Big Ten Tournament participation. In fact, this year’s performance is only the second time the Illini have finished in the top three in the Big Ten under Dan Hartleb’s leadership.

Yes, a third seed is still doable.

Some quick game recaps for this weekend:

 

Game #48 / May 15, 2014
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On Thursday, Nebraska ended Illinois seven-game winning streak in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel.  Drasen Johnson was on the losing but similar to many outings this season, he pitched brilliantly.  In his complete game loss,, he gave up just two runs and his ERA dropped to 3.03 for the year despite his 5-6 record.

The Illini offense only managed three hits and struck out twelve times.

Boxscore

Wrapup

 

 

Game #49 / May 16, 2014
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Behind the pitching of Kevin Duchene and the bat of Adam Walton, the Illini rebounded for a win on Friday.  Duchene won his sixth game of the year giving up one run in six innings.  Walton went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning giving the Illini the lead for good.

The heart of the Illinois order, David Kerian, Jason Goldstein and Reid Roper all collected two hits in the game.  Ronnie Muck garnered a three-inning save, his third of the year.

Boxscore

Wrapup

 

 

Game #50 / May 17, 2014
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It was close.  The Illini had a 4-2 lead at the top of the fifth inning. Nebraska tied it up on an apparently controversial balk call in the bottom of the fifth.  It was goose eggs until Nebraska won it on a walk-off homerun in the bottom of tenth.

Adam Walton had three hits including a triple.  Will Krug and Ryan Nagle both had two hits with a double.  Ryne Roper hit his first homer of the year.

Boxscore

Wrapup

Next up

The Illini will stay in Nebraska as the Big Ten Tournament takes place at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.  As #3 seed, they will be taking on #6 seed Michigan State on Wednesday.  It’s an early 9am game.

…and no doubt, revenge will be on the Spartans’ mind.

Great job, Illinois!!


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#28 Huskers host Illini for last regular season series

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John Kravetz scheduled to pitch last game of the regular season

The final regular season is upon the Illinois (30-17, 16-5 Big Ten) baseball team as they face the tough #28 Nebraska Cornhuskers (35-17, 16-5 Big Ten).  It will be a battle of the two second place teams and one team will end up owning that spot.  First place Indiana (36-12, 19-2 Big Ten) is three games up on both teams and catching them is a remote chance for either team.

If Illinois wins this series, they will garner a #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament next week.  If they lose, they will get the #3 seed.  It’s as simple as that.  The first game begins Thursday night at 6:35pm.

According to the Fightingillini.com series preview, Coach Hartleb has decided on the rotation and he’s not deviating from last week.  It will be Drasen Johnson (5-5, 3.11 ERA) on Friday night, Kevin Duchene (2-1, 1.88 ERA) on Friday and John Kravetz (6-1, 2.88 ERA) for the final game of the regular season.

Hawks Field at Haymarket Park
Lincoln, Nebraska

Thu. May 15

6:35 pm CT

Fri. May 16

6:35 pm CT

Sat. May 17

1:05 pm CT

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University of Nebraska Cornhuskers

huskers

35-17 (16-5 Big Ten)

2014 stats

 

This won’t be easy… the Cornhuskers are #28 in the nation for a reason.  They are tops in the conference in hitting, fielding, runs, walks and saves.

Chance Sinclair (8-1) and Aaron Bummer (5-3) are the Cornhuskers’ top starting pitchers and they’ve gotten the job done, too.  Their big save guy is Josh Roeder with 11 but they have Zach Hirsch who has done well out of the pen as well.

It should be an exciting series from a purely baseball perspective. I’m sure our guys are geared up for this one.

Following this weekend’s games

For those at home, you can follow the games via LiveStats.  WDWS will be broadcasting at AM1400 with Dave Loane and Matt Wille behind the mike.  Here’s the Twitter feed for @IllinoisBaseball for the play-by-play in 140 characters or less.

The game will also be broadcasted via BTN and Huskers.com.  Here are the links from the Fightingillini.com page:

Live Audio ($)
Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3

Live Video ($)
Huskers.com (Thursday) | BTDN (Friday) | Watch on BTN2Go(Saturday)

 

Go Illini!


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Second place Illini guaranteed a #2 or #3 seed in Tourney

A little pressure has been lifted off the Illini for the time being, at least.

Illinois is now guaranteed a #2 or #3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.  Illinois Baseball puts it simply on Twitter

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As far as the top three, it really is that simple.  Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska have distanced themselves from the rest of the conference.  Fourth place Minnesota is a full four games behind the Illini and the Cornhuskers.  As for Indiana, they have even distanced themselves from the two tied for second.  Currently, they are three games up in the standings.

Going into the last regular season weekend, let’s take a look at the standings of the Big Ten:

 

Big Ten Overall
Team Record Pct. Record Pct.
1. Indiana 19-2 .905 35-12 .745
2. Nebraska 16-5 .762 35-17 .673
   Illinois 16-5 .762 30-17 .638
4. Minnesota 12-9 .571 26-20 .565
5. Michigan 13-11 .542 26-26-1 .500
6. Ohio State 9-12 .429 28-24 .538
7. Iowa 8-13 .381 27-20 .574
   Michigan State 8-13 .381 26-23 .531
9. Penn State 5-15 .250 17-29 .370
10. Northwestern 5-15 .250 17-32 .347
11. Purdue 5-16 .238 12-35 .255

 

With Illinois’ sweep of Iowa last weekend, Coach Hartleb has already equaled his season-high in Big Ten victories with 16.  That with three more games left in the regular season, too.  Illinois’ mark of 30-17 also means that Hartleb has six 30-win seasons under his belt, too.  Quite a year of accomplishment for the manager who moved into 4th place among Illini baseball coaches in wins.

Worth noting, the Fighting Illini swept their Big Ten opponents on the road for the first time in history.  They went 9-0 against opponents Penn State, Northwestern and this previous weekend, Iowa.

Next Up

The Illini will have a long trip coming up.  They’ll be playing Nebraska this weekend.  Note the series starts on Thursday this time.  Win or lose, they will be in the Big Tournament which is conveniently in Omaha and starts on May 21.

Game time for Thursday’s game is 6:35pm.

Go Illini!


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Illinois baseball renews Iowa rivalry this weekend

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Will Krug and David Kerian are hoping to spark some offense at Duane Banks Field this weekend

A lot has happened in the Illinois baseball program in the past week but it’s time for them to buckle down and play some baseball.  They’ll be playing the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City this weekend.

To recap the excitement of the past week, Illinois Baseball (27-17, 13-5 Big Ten) has:

I know Coach Hartleb has taught our players not to dwell on their successes but to simply strive to build on them.  So I know their minds are on the Iowa Hawkeyes (27-17, 8-10 Big Ten) now.  It’s been a long time.  Illinois hasn’t played Iowa since 2011 so all of our players will be new to playing the Black and Gold of the Hawkeyes.

 

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Is Kevin Duchene ready for the long haul this weekend?

There’s one big announced change in the pitching rotation.  Along with Drasen Johnson (4-5, 3.25) and John Kravetz (5-1, 3.09), starter Kevin Duchene (2-1, 1.80) will be pitching on Sunday.  Duchene was a previously unannounced starter in last Sunday’s game but was on a limited pitch count.  He got in three innings and both he and Coach Hartleb must have been pleased with the outing. He’s back for more.

Duane Banks Field
Iowa City, Iowa

Fri. May 9

4:00 pm CT

Sat. May 3

11:00 am CT

Sun. May 4

1:00 pm CT

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University of Iowa Hawkeyes

iowa logo

27-17 (8-10 Big Ten)

2014 stats

Like last week’s opponents, the Spartans, Iowa has a similar overall record to Illinois (27-17). However, the Fighting Illini (13-5) have made a lot more of their conference season than Iowa (8-10) has.  From where I stand, part of the reason might be the competition but a lot of it is that the Illini have just gotten motivated at the right time.

The Hawkeyes CAN hit though.  They went 1-2 against Ohio State last weekend but outscored them 22-11 including a 17-2 drubbing on Friday, worth mentioning since it was against the Buckeyes’ Friday night starter.  Overall, the Hawks are hitting .303 for the year as a team.  That ranks second in the Big Ten.

Following this weekend’s games

For those at home, you can follow the games via GameTracker or its Mobile Live version.  WDWS will be broadcasting at AM1400 with Dave Loane and Matt Wille behind the mike.  Here’s the Twitter feed for @IllinoisBaseball for the play-by-play in 140 characters or less.

Also, Saturday’s game will be broadcasted over Big Ten Network’s BTN2Go with Kevin Kugler and Scott Pose.

 

Go Illini!


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