Reid Roper breaking summer league records up in Rochester

reid roperIt seems Illini infielder infielder/pitcher Reid Roper has been making headlines all season helping his summer league team Rochester Honkers win ballgames (here are just a couple from the Northwoods League website and the Post-Bulletin). 

Now, Roper is in the news because he is breaking another record.  According to the Post-Bulletin, Roper holds the all-time hits record for the Honkers. On Monday night, he collected his 180th hit in a Rochester uniform which surpassed Mike Maslowski’s record which stood for 18 years. 

Play was stopped after Roper hit his single on Monday night and he received the ball that was hit.  Unfortunately for Roper and the rest of the Honkers, Rochester lost the game to St. Cloud Rox 5-4.

Roper would have preferred the win, of course:

"The loss detracts (from the hits record) a little bit; obviously you want the team to do well and get the win…It’s definitely special to me; the hits record is looked upon as a high achievement, I think.”

Reid Roper already holds the team record for career at-bats, games played and walks. 

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Introducing new assistant coach Spencer Allen!

With the departure of assistant coach Eric Snider, the Illinois Baseball program didn’t waste time in finding a replacement to fill the coaching ranks.  They’ve landed Spencer Allen who comes most recently from Creighton University’s coaching staff.  Allen also has ties to the Big Ten having coached with Purdue a couple years.  Coach Allen has the official title of Assistant Coach for the Illinois baseball team.

Allen can claim considerable success in his recent stint with Creighton.  Overall, the Bluejays went 62-35-1 with Allen as Assistant Coach.  In 2013, they placed third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 13-8 conference record.  The following,  they took the BIG EAST by surprise winning the conference in their initial year in the conference with a 32-17-1 record. 


Spencer Allen’s Timeline

  • 2001:  Graduated with a B.A. in History, Iowa State
  • 2008: Received an M.S. in Sports Management California University of Pennsylvania
  • 2005-06: Assistant Coach, Creighton
  • 2008-09: Assistant Coach, Purdue
  • 2010-12:  Assistant Coach, Washington State
  • 2013-14: Associate Coach, Creighton
  • 2014-??  Assistant Coach, Illinois


Illini baseball fans know that former Illinois coach Snider was a formidable recruiter.  While no one expects Coach Allen to fill Snider’s shoes immediately, he does bring some scouting skills to the table.  He acted as an area scout for the Detroit Tigers and helped them recruit talent for their organization.

Coach Hartleb says:

"I am extremely excited about the addition of Spencer Allen to our coaching staff.  Spencer has a proven track record of being one of the top recruiters in the Midwest. He has great experience and is well-respected by his peers as a recruiter and an on-the-field coach. Spencer will continue to help us bring in quality players that allow us to compete at the national level. Spencer brings a great work ethic with high energy and impeccable integrity."

Coach Allen says:

"I am very excited to be a part of the Illinois baseball program, this coaching staff and the athletic department.  I am very familiar with this program and the success it has had recently and in its rich history. I look forward to meeting with the players and getting things going once I get on campus."

Spencer Allen hails from Olympia, Washington and attended Iowa State University where he was named an All-Big 12 Academic selection and served as team captain in his final year. 

You can read Coach Spencer Allen’s bio on the Fighting Illini’s website.  Welcome aboard, Coach Allen!

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Coach Snider is packing his bags and heading to Louisville

Eric SniderThe news that Coach Eric Snider has been hired by the Louisville Cardinals as an assistant coach is very bittersweet indeed. 

Coach Snider has been with the Illini since 1999 and has been head coach Dan Hartleb’s right-hand man since he took over.  He’s a smart baseball man and quite known for recruiting talents.  He can lay claim to 27 recruits who have gone on to professional baseball. 


Coach Eric Snider’s Timeline

  • 1992-1993 Champaign Colts Manager
  • 1992-1995 Austin Peay State Assistant Coach
  • 1995-1998 Waterloo Bucks GM/Head Coach
  • 1999-2008 Illinois Assistant Coach
  • 2008-2014 Illinois Associate Head Coach


It will be an exciting move for Snider and I’m begrudgingly happy for him.  The fact that Louisville wants him on their team, says a lot about the man.  The Cardinals are consistently in the ranked in the top twenty in the nation. 

What does Illini head coach Dan Hartleb say?

"Eric is an outstanding recruiter and has done a great job throughout the country, in particular in the Midwest. He has a great eye for talent and will continue to bring in quality players to the University of Louisville. He has a great offensive mind and does an excellent job relating to players. He teaches the necessary skills and mechanics to be a successful hitter at the highest levels of baseball. Eric will be a great asset for the University of Louisville."

From where I stand, Coach Snider has always had a good rapport with Illini players, parents and fans. For me, it will not be the same without him in his usual spot as the third base coach. 

Thanks and good luck Coach Snider!  And remember, it’s Loo-ah-vul. 

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Tyler Jay making his mark in no-no for Team USA

Tyler Jay2014 seems to be the summer of the no-hitter for Illini pitchers.  First it was Andrew Mamlic then Matthew James.  Now you can put Illini reliever Tyler Jay on that list. 

Via Illinois Baseball Twitter, news comes that on Saturday, Jay contributed to a no-hitter for Team USA in the Pan American Championships.  USA defeated the Netherlands 3-0 in Haarlem, Netherlands.  It was the third no-hitter of the Collegiate National Team and first on international soil. 

Jay collaborated with Carson Fulmer from Vanderbilt, Dillon Tate from UCSB and Ryan Burr of Arizona State for the no-hitter.

Here is the box score of the game

Currently, the USA Collegiate National Team is 14-3-2 this summer. 

Congrats, Tyler!

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Coach Hartleb to assist with National Training Development Program

IMG_7558Coach Dan Hartleb is going places this summer.  Specifically, he’s heading to North Carolina to assist at the National Training Complex for the 2014 USA Baseball 14U National Team Development Program.  Hartleb was named to the coaching staff for the program and will help Eric Kibler at the complex in Cary, North Carolina.

Here is the NTDP’s mission according to

…players will participate in skill development sessions, various off-field educational components including guest speakers/instructors and intrasquad Red vs. Blue games. The NTDP programs will be used to further connect identified athletes with USA Baseball staff to better prepare and develop the athletes for a future USA Baseball National Team experience.

Good luck, Coach!

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Tyler Jay wins a spot on USA Collegiate National Team

Tyler JayThe USA Collegiate National Team has begun its season and Illini Tyler Jay is right in the middle of the action.  Jay won a spot on the roster after a superb performance during tryouts in June.  Now, he and the rest of Team USA are taking on the world in a manner of speaking.

USA defeated Chinese-Taipei in two straight games on July 1 and July 2.  Tonight, they take them on again at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina.  They conclude against Chinese-Taipei on July 4th and 5th in Durham, North Carolina at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. 

Follow the action at the USA Collegiate Baseball website.

Good luck Tyler!!

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Former Illini Roark makes a visit home

Tanner RoarkSeems former Illini pitcher Tanner Roark who is now pitching for the Washington Nationals, is making the headlines more and more.  CBS Chicago covered Roark’s return to Illinois as he took on the Chicago Cubs today.  Roark is a Wilmington High School alum so there were some friendly faces in the crowd. 

Unfortunately for Roark, the Cubs were not gracious hosts today and handed the Nationals a 7-2 loss. 

This season, Roark has been a bright spot in the Nationals’ pitching rotation with a 7-5 record and miniscule 2.98 ERA.  He’s helped the Nats to a league best 3.04 team ERA which is has kept them in first place in the National League East division. 

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Matthew James dual role pays off in no-hitter for Lexington

jamesIt’s a new one on me.  Illini infielder Matthew James can pitch.  Apparently pretty well. 

And James (right) pitched REALLY well on Saturday as he threw a complete  game no-hitter for the Lexington Snipes against the Joliet Admirals.  Behind James’ pitching, the Snipes defeated the Admirals 6-1. 

The line on James:  7 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 1 ER.  James also went 1 for 2 with an rbi at the plate. Here is the boxscore for the record.

James is off to a great start for Lexington hitting .429 in 13 games.  From the hill, he’s 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 20 innings.  Lexington is now 8-5 and in third Mamlicplace in the Midwest Collegiate League.  

James is the second Illini player to pitch a no-hitter in summer league play in 2014.  Andrew Mamlic (left) threw a no-no back on June 21st for the Lombard Orioles.  Mamlic’s performance against the Sheboygan A’s was one walk away from a perfect game. 

Congrats Matthew and Andrew!

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Summer league action in full force

IMG_6872This summer, the boys are out to play.  Twenty-eight Illini baseball players are playing summer ball around the country for twelve teams in seven leagues.  As usual, team Sports Information Director Matt Wille has the Summer Ball Central web page up so we know what they’re up to.  Each team and league on Summer Ball Central is linked to its web site so click away. 

As usual, the Northwoods League is the big benefactor of Illini talent.  Illinois is sending sixteen players to play on five NWL teams. 

Matthew James (pictured) will be playing closest to the U of I as his Lexington Snipes are in nearby McLean County.  Kevin Duchene, Jason Goldstein and Tyler Jay will have to brush up on their Boston accents because they are joining the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in Massachusetts. 

Good luck to all the Illini!

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Class of 2014 Recruits: Ryan Haff

The Illini Coaching staff is off to an early start in recruiting this off-season.  They have already landed Ryan Haff, a Hinsdale Central product.  Haff primarily plays shortstop but looks pretty versatile in the field.  He also has plenty of pop, too leading Hinsdale Central in hits, doubles, triples and homers this past season.

You can read a pretty in-depth feature piece on Haff from April on the High School Cube News site. Haff seems serious about the sport of baseball and training.

Haff will be eligible to join the Illini for the 2014-15 season.

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