Bring on the Commodores! Illinois hosts Vanderbilt in NCAA Super Regional

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With a 3-0 Regional Championship win under their belt, the #6 national seed Fighting Illini (50-8-1) welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores (45-19) to Illinois Field for the NCAA Super Regional this weekend.  Beginning Saturday night at 7pm CT, the two will play a best of three series to determine who will go on to the College World Series and who will just go home. 

While both teams are quite comparable, they come from very different perspectives.  The Commodores are the reigning champions.  The Illini are the upstart newcomers who have never reached the Super Regionals yet own the highest winning percentage in the country.  Both teams share high profile players and of course, the desire to advance to the Elite Eight who play in the College World Series at Omaha. 

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Follow along this weekend at Tournament Central.  The Fighting Illini have posted their Super Regional preview.  Of interest, pitchers Kevin Duchene of Illinois and Carson Fulmer of Vanderbilt have been announced for Saturday’s game but the rest are listed as TBA.  Either both coaches are being coy or just keeping their strategies to themselves.  Personally, I don’t think Coach Hartleb would deviate from what has been working for him all year but he probably wants to keep everybody guessing. 

 

Illinois Field
 
Champaign, Illinois

Sat. June 6

7:00 pm CT

Sun. June 7

8:00 pm CT

Mon. June 8

(if necessary)

TBA

vs

Vanderbilt Commodores

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W-L: 45-19 SEC 20-10

My take on Vanderbilt: 

Vanderbilt got this far via the Nashville Regional where they swept the field.  That included a 6-4 win over the Big Ten Indiana Hoosiers. 

Take a look at any mock draft out there (like Baseball America’s, for example).  Along with Illinois reliever Tyler Jay, you will most likely find at least three Vanderbilt players in the top 20.  Among them is shortstop Dansby Swanson who is projected to go in the top five picks.  Swanson is batting .348 with 14 homers and 61 rbis. 

Right behind him are two right handers, Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler who are both ready for this weekend and for draft day on Monday.  Fulmer in particular, has been effective for the Commodores.  He has a 12-2 record with a 1.92 ERA.  He also brings heat with 147 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings. 

And since excellence isn’t bred in a vacuum, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse after that.  Philip Pfeifer has struck out 101 in 77+ innings.  The Commodores have six players hitting .300 and three with 13 or more homers. 

In short, reigning champion Vandy is not going to be a walk in the park.  At the same time, their Coach is most likely telling the players the same about Illinois. 

 

Random Ramblings

As always, there are a couple more Fighting Illini awards to announce…

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Tyler Jay was named the District V Player of the Year by the NCWBA.  He was one of ten honored on Friday from each district.  District V encompasses Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Senior Reid Roper was named as a Capital One second team Academic All-American.  The award emphasizes academic as well as athletic excellence.  Roper is only the sixth Illini to receive the award and the first since Jason Anderson in 2000. 

 

Notes about this weekend

For those wishing to go to the games at Illinois Field, I hope you were able to procure tickets early on Tuesday.  They were sold out within a few hours.  Unless you happen to be lucky to win some, you may be listening to Dave Loane on the radio.  Not that’s a bad thing.  

If you’re looking for a good unbiased comparison between the Illini and the Commodores, D1Baseball.com has one

Finally, usually by this time Illinois players are done with their season and thinking about their summer assignments.  Those who are draft eligible are looking towards the MLB First-Year Player Draft.  Not this year.  While the draft is happening and I’m sure certain players are definitely keeping an eye on it, they have business to finish at the Super Regional. 

This year’s MLB Draft will commence on Monday, June 8th potentially while Illinois is still playing in the Super Regional.  MLB’s Draft Central is the best place to track the draft.  This year may have a bumper crop of Illinois draftees and most certainly have the highest drafted pick in Tyler Jay. 

See you at the ballpark!!


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Between Regionals, Illini baseball doesn’t get much better than this!

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Success breeds success, they say.  On the heels of their 3-0 Champaign Regional Championship, Illinois baseball can claim three All-Tournament honorees. 

Drasen Johnson’s complete game shutout was a no-brainer.  I knew David Kerian and Will Krug both had a great weekend but did you realize the impact of the 7-8-9 hitters of the Illini?  That also includes #9 hitter Ryne Roper. 

Check the stats.  For the weekend, Krug went 6 for 10, Kerian went 5 for 8 with 2 HR and Roper went 4 for 11.  Together they drove home 12 runs in the three games at the Champaign Regional. 

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As long as we’re on the topic of awards, dominant Illini reliever Tyler Jay is one step closer to the NCWBA Stopper of the Year Award.  The list is down to just five now.  The Big Ten Player of the Year, Jay is second in the country in ERA (0.60) and leads in WHIP (0.61).  Ten days from now, the winner will be announced. 

 

Everything’s super now!

On to the Super Regional now.  The once overwhelming 64-team NCAA bracket is suddenly down to just sixteen teams now.  The chaff has been separated from the wheat and we’re on to some serious baseball now. 

Here is the current NCAA Division I bracket.

This weekend, sixteen teams will face off in eight separate Super Regionals in a best of three series and those winners will earn the right to move on to the College World Series in Omaha which starts on June 13th. 

As for Illinois, they will take on the Vanderbilt Commodores here at Illinois Field.  Vandy is the reigning national champion having taken it all in 2014.  They have a few of their players back for the 2015 campaign and are a team to be reckoned with.  The good news (aside from boasting about our own greatness) is that Illinois is playing on their home turf in front of mostly friendly crowds. 

If you were thinking of attending this weekend’s Super Regional, the word right now is that all games are sold out.  As always, keep an eye on @IllinoisBaseball in case more tickets become available at a later date.

It’s worth noting that one other Big Ten team made it to the Super Regionals.  The Terps will be taking on the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville.  Both were #3 seeds in their respective Regionals so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out. 

Also, former Illini coach Eric Snider and his tough Louisville Cardinals are hosting Cal State-Fullerton.  Both were top seeds.  Will Coach Snider get to meet up with his former team?  Stay tuned!!

  3 days till #SuperRegional


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Illinois advance to Super Regional with 8-4 win over Wright State

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Will Krug hit an rbi double in the fifth inning

In a wild comeback game with just a little bit of controversy, the Illini have advanced to their first Super Regional!  Behind the strong bats of Will Krug, David Kerian and Ryne Roper and lights-out pitching of Tyler Jay, Illinois defeated the Wright State Raiders 8-4.  With the win, they clinch the NCAA Champaign Regional Championship and advance to the Super Regional.

Illinois went a clean 3-0 in the Champaign Regional defeating each tournament team once.  They will face Vanderbilt in the Super Regional hosted here in Champaign next weekend.  The win is Illinois’ 50th which is the most in the school’s history breaking the record set in 1982.

Game #59 / June 1, 2015
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David Kerian gets congrats from the Illini batboy after his two-run homer

Baseball is funny sometimes,  With a 4-4 tie, Wright State walked Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian in the sixth inning to get to Will Krug.  Gutsy move.  Krug has already had a fantastic Champaign Regional weekend and on top of that, he doubled in a run in the fifth inning.  How did Krug respond?  Simply by doubling again, this time scoring Jason Goldstein.

They didn’t intentionally walk Kerian in the ninth inning.  THAT was big mistake.  Kerian hit a two-run homer extending the Illini lead to 7-4.  Krug did get his third of the day though and eventually scored.

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Going back to the sixth inning, Kerian was thrown out at the plate on Krug’s double and there was a collision at the plate.  As you can see from the photo, the Wright State catcher was blocking the plate.  The Wright State head coach thought Kerian should have been ejected and thought he could convince the umpire.

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Well, you know how discussions like that can go.  Coach Greg Lovelady was eventually ejected himself.  When he wouldn’t leave, he was escorted out by the U of I Police.  An inning later, Wright State shortstop Mitch Roman was also ejected and escorted out.  Both had to watch (listen?) from the Illinois Field parking lot.

Oh, it turns out that the U of I Police Department has a sense of humor…

The bottom third of the order, Kerian, Krug and Ryne Roper combined for six hits and six rbis.

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Tyler Jay breaks school save record

J.D. Nielsen got the big win today with just one third of a innings work.  It was Tyler Jay who came in the sixth inning and showed everyone why he was chosen Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.  In four innings, he allowed just hit and struck out five Raider batters.  Retiring the last 12 batters, he earned his 14th save and clinched the win for the Illini.  Jay’s save break’s the school record for saves in a season.

 

 

Lots of photos are here at the IBR photo gallery.

If you’re interested in going to the Super Regional, keep an eye on @IllinoisBaseball on Twitter or their website.  Tickets are probably going on sale on Tuesday in the morning.  Vanderbilt was last year’s National Champion so either way you look at it, we’re looking at a new brand of baseball next weekend.

Great job, Illini!!


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Johnson’s shutout advances Illini to the Champaign Regional final!!

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Will Krug rounds third to score the first run in today’s win

In front of a rocking crowd of over 3000 at Illinois Field, top seed Illinois defeated #2 seed Notre Dame 3-0 behind a strong effort by starter Drasen Johnson who pitched a complete game shutout.  Illinois rallied for all three runs in the fifth inning. 

With the win, Illinois advances to the NCAA Champaign Regional Championship game played Monday at 1:05pm.  They will face the winner of tonight’s elimination matchup between Notre Dame and Wright State. 

Not only that but today’s victory gives Illinois a 49-8-1 record.  That ties the school record for the most wins in one season.  The 1982 baseball team also had 49 victories.  That’s extra incentive for winning as if Illinois needed any. 

 

Game #58 / May 31, 2015    
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Drasen Johnson was lights out against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

To be honest, Drasen Johnson didn’t get off to the best start today.  In the first, he walked a batter and hit another.  It didn’t help that another got on via an error. 

However, Drasen got through it unscathed.  He allowed two hits in the second but after that, he seemed to just get stronger as the game progressed.  In fact, he only allowed three more hits for the rest of the game.  In typical Drasen Johnson fashion, he was efficient with his pitches and only walked one batter.  In all a fantastic performance. 

Drasen Johnson’s line:  9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Johnson improves to 10-3 for the year and his ERA is hovering just over the 2.00 mark at 2.01.  Today’s shutout was his first ever and his fifth career complete game. 

The Illini offense gave Johnson just what he needed in the fifth inning.  Will Krug started things off with a one-out base hit.  Ryne Roper hit the second pitch for s double scoring the speedy Krug.  Adam Walton followed that up with an rbi single driving home Roper.  Ryan Nagle’s base hit made it first and third then Reid Roper’s sacrifice fly scored Walton. 

That would be all the runs either team would score and Illinois came home winners 3-0. 

 

Random Ramblings

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Drew Dickinson, whatever you said to Drasen on the mound in the first inning, those were truly words of wisdom.  More photos from today’s game are here.  I included some from pre-game activities too. 

As I write this, I see that Notre Dame was blanked by Wright State 4-0 in tonight’s elimination game.  Wow, tough day for the Irish.  I had said to a few people that the Wright State Raiders were going to be a opponent to contend with.  So far, they’re hanging tough.  Seeing that’s the case, Illinois will be playing the Raiders tomorrow at 1pm at Illinois Field. 

So far, Illinois has two straight complete games in the Champaign Regional.  The elephant in the room is Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Tyler Jay who is always ready and willing to come in.  Coach Hartleb isn’t afraid to use him for four or five innings if need be either.  I’m willing to bet we’ll see Jay at some point tomorrow’s final game.

Can I say that I’m having the time of my life?  The atmosphere at Illinois Field is electric!  At this Regional event, I’ve noticed that there is less of a home field “feel” compared to regular season games.  I feel that’s fair, this is an NCAA event.  Having said that, I’ve noticed that the huge crowd is taking really taking initiative and showing their Illini Pride.  I’ll bet the players notice as well too.

It’s been great to see some former players this weekend who want to share in this team’s success.  So far, I’ve run into Pete Cappetta, Bryan Roberts, Mike Sterk, Dom Altobelli and Casey McMurray. 

 Great job, Illini!!


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Mother Nature a winner Saturday at Champaign Regional

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The Fighting Illini hope to repeat their Friday success against Notre Dame

In what was going to be a big day at the Champaign Regional turned out to be wash, literally speaking.  Saturday afternoon and evening rains prevented all but a few innings to be played.  Both games have all been pushed back one day and Game 3 will resume in third inning with the Wright State Raiders leading the Ohio Bobcats 5-2. 

New schedule

Game Three: No. 3 Wright State vs. No. 4 Ohio (resumed)
• 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 31.

Game Four: No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 2 Notre Dame
• 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

Game Five: Winner Game Three vs. Loser Game Four
• 55 minutes following the conclusion of Game Four.

Game Six: Winner Game Four vs. Winner Game Five
• Monday, June 1. Time TBA.

You can find the full updated schedule here.  If you’re attending the Champaign Regional games, your ticket for the original game will be honored.  Also, having posted the updated schedule, keep in mind we live in Illinois with its weather.  Illinois Baseball’s Twitter account @IllinoisBaseball is the best way to keep up with the latest updates.

NCAA Regional Update

As this writing, the Big Ten is no longer undefeated in the NCAA Regionals.  Michigan took it on the chin from top seed Louisville 4-3 in the Louisville Regional (who have been battling the weather as well today).  Michigan will have a rematch with Bradley tomorrow in an elimination game. 

The Lake Elsinore Regional has experienced the first real upset of the Regionals.  Top seed UC Santa Barbara has already been eliminated after two games.  They’ve been defeated by San Diego State and USC.  In the Stillwater Regional, top seed Oklahoma State is on the rocks having lost to St John’s in the second round. 

So far, twelve teams have already been eliminated from the 64-team bracket. 

  • Ole Miss
  • UCSB
  • Oral Roberts
  • Canisius
  • East Carolina
  • Mercer
  • Florida A&M
  • Lehigh
  • Texas Southern
  • Sacred Heart
  • Lipscomb
  • Morehead St.

After tomorrow, this list should grow considerably.  Only four teams have gone 2-0 so far in the Regional.  They are Arkansas, Florida, Florida State and Louisville. Many games are in progress right now so a lot can change till the morning. 

Catch the full NCAA interactive bracket at 2015 Baseball Tournament Central.

See you at the ballpark!


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Homers by Roper and Kerian bolster Duchene’s NCAA Champaign Regional win over Ohio, 10-3

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Reid Roper gets congrats after his first inning homer

Friday night, top seed Illinois baseball got off to a good start in the NCAA Champaign Regional.  Behind a solid start of Kevin Duchene (11-1) and homers by David Kerian and Reid Roper, they defeated fourth seed Ohio University 10-3. 

With the win, Illinois will advance in the tournament and face Notre Dame on Saturday at 7pm.  The Fighting Irish defeated the Wright State Raiders 13-7 earlier in the day.  The Ohio Bobcats and Raiders will face off in an elimination game at noon. 

 

Game #57 / May 30, 2015    
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Kevin Duchene improves to 11-1 after his Champaign Regional win

Technically speaking, today’s Illini win was a comeback.  Ohio led 2-1 after one and a half innings but Illinois’ barrage of five runs pretty much established the dominance that would continue for the rest of the game.  David Kerian’s three run homerun was key to the big rally. 

Kevin Duchene pitched a solid complete game giving up just seven hits and three runs all earned.  That’s a good thing though as Duchene enjoyed the support of good defense to go along with the plentiful offense.  His win gives him an 11-1 record for the season. 

Offensive performers in today’s game:  David Kerian 1 for 2, HR, 3 rbis, 3 runs, Reid Roper 2 for 3, HR,  Will Krug 2 for 3, 3B, 2 runs, Ryne Roper 2 for 3, 2 rbis

 

 

Random Ramblings

Photos from tonight’s game here.  I also took a few photos at Game 1 between the Wright State and Notre Dame.

Illinois is one victory away from the school record of 49 set in 1982.  No time like this weekend to set a new record!

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Congratulations to Tyler Jay (above), Kevin Duchene and David Kerian.  Jay was named first team All-American and Duchene and Kerian were named second-team All-American.  This is the first time Illinois has had three All-Americans. 

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Former Illini Casey McMurray and Pete Cappetta were all thumbs up about the success of this year’s baseball team

The Big Ten was a perfect 5-0 today.  Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Maryland were winners in their respective Regionals.  As always, get more info from 2015 Baseball Tournament Central.  

Great job, Illini!!


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Get ready for some Champaign Regional action!

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In preparation of the Champaign Regional, the interns at the UI Athletics program have been working overtime to put out this great press release.  It is quite comprehensive.  Reading through it, I am still amazed at what the Illini players have accomplished this year.

 

What do I need to know about this weekend?

A lot of your questions can be answered at the Fighting Illini 2015 Baseball Championship site or Champaign Regional Tournament Central.  Those new to Illinois and coming from out of town might want check out the tour of Illinois Field.

Here’s another taste of the changes to Illinois Field…

 

If you want tickets for Friday night’s game against the Ohio Bobcats, you may be too late.  Rumor has it that advance tickets have been sold out.  However, Associate Athletic Director Jason Heggemeyer does say that if available, there will be a small amount of standing room only tickets will go on sale at the Illinois Field ticket office. 

Speaking of standing, those of us who love standing by the fences during the game will need to find a seat.  Because of the extended seating, there will be no standing along the fences.  It’s only fair that everyone can see the game.

Parking:  Fans can park in the grass lot at Illinois Field as usual (unless we hear different because god forbid, the weather prevents it).  This weekend, there will be attendants directing drivers where to park.

Weather:  The weather forecast doesn’t look perfect but compared to a couple days ago it’s looking a whole lot better.  There may be scattered thunderstorms but if we’re lucky, they will be scattered around the games.

Finally, let’s do our best to represent our team well as fans.  Our Illini players do us proud by showing good sportsmanship behavior.  Let’s do the same in the stands!


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NCAA Champaign Regional taking shape

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On Monday, the regional pairings were announced for the NCAA Baseball Championship and Illinois received a #6 overall seed, their first ever in school history.  Among others, the teams were announced that are going to play in the Champaign Regional on May 29th-June 1st. 

The Fighting Illini have brought up 2015 Baseball Tournament Central for this weekend. Keep an eye on that for all news regarding the regional’s happenings. 

 

Champaign Regional

 

#1 seed


Illinois Fighting Illini

47-8-1
#2 seed

nd
Notre Dame Fighting Irish

36-21

#3 seed

wtst
Wright State Raiders

41-15

#4 seed

ohio
Ohio Bobcats

36-19

The Fighting Illini break down the Champaign Regional in their announcement.  They also include a link for tickets (hint, hint… get some and come out this weekend!). 

The schedule is out too… as much as it can be.  Regional top seed Illinois will be taking on #4 on Ohio Bobcats at 7pm Friday.  Here is the full schedule:

Friday, May 29
Game 1: #2 seed Notre Dame (36-21) vs. #3 seed Wright State (41-15), Noon
Game 2: #1 seed Illinois (47-8-1) vs. #4 seed Ohio (36-19), 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 30
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, Noon
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Sunday, May 31
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, Noon
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.

Monday, June 1
Game 7 (if necessary): Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 1 p.m.

It’s a banner year for Big Ten teams in the NCAA Championship bracket.  Not only is it Illinois’ first time being named as a national seed but as Chris Webb notes on B1GBaseball.com, the Big Ten’s five nominations far exceeds its past successes in the NCAA postseason.  This year, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa will join Illinois for the quest for Omaha. 

Here is the full interactive NCAA bracket

The boys were all together to watch the NCAA Selection Special today. 

If you hadn’t noticed, many of the ballplayers have shorn their locks.  They have apparently decided that since the win streak is over, they can go back to the ‘clean’ look. 

Wrapping up the Big Ten Tournament

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Before too much time is passed, I want to recognize the performances of John Kravetz (above) and Ryan Nagle at the Big Ten Tournament.  They were both named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team.  Nagle batted .375 and scored four runs while Kravetz pitched a complete game shutout. 

Congratulations, Ryan and John!

 

Now if you haven’t gotten your tickets for this weekend, order them now.  Rumor has it, they are going quick. 


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Illinois to host NCAA Regional May 29th-June 1

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The long wait is over.  After weeks of projections and previews, the NCAA has officially announced that Big Ten Champions Illinois will play host in the Champaign Regional.  On May 29th-June 1, the Illini will host a Regional at Illinois Field.

Directly from the Twitter account of NCAA Baseball:

 

This is Illinois’ 11th NCAA Regional appearance but the very first time that they will actually host a Regional.

The Champaign Regional is one of sixteen national Regionals around the country hosted by the best college baseball teams in the nation in 2015.   Each Regional will field four teams and will conduct a double elimination tournament. 

According to NCAA.com, the cities and corresponding teams hosting a Regional are:

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana – LSU (48-10)
  • Champaign, Illinois – Illinois (47-8-1)
  • College Station, Texas – Texas A&M (45-11)
  • Coral Gables, Florida – Miami (Fla.) (44-14)
  • Dallas, Texas – Dallas Baptist (43-13)
  • Fort Worth, Texas – TCU (43-11)
  • Fullerton, California – Cal State Fullerton (34-22)
  • Gainesville, Florida – Florida (*43-16)
  • Houston, Texas – Houston (42-18)
  • Lake Elsinore, California – UC Santa Barbara (40-15-1)
  • Los Angeles, California – UCLA (42-14)
  • Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville (43-16)
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Vanderbilt (*42-18)
  • Springfield, Missouri – Missouri State (45-10)
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma – Oklahoma State (37-18)
  • Tallahassee, Florida – Florida State (41-19)

A side note:  Congrats to former Illini associate head coach Eric Snider who is now at Louisville.  His Cardinals are also hosting a regional.

Those of you who are interested in attending the Champaign Regional should head on over to Fighting Illini’s NCAA Regional page.  There’s all kinds of information there including a link to order tickets. 

Who will the Illini face at the Champaign Regional?  That is still up in the air but we will find out Monday morning at 11am.  The entire 64-team field will announced on ESPNU by NCAA Baseball  and will be spread via Twitter or Facebook as well. 

Congratulations to the Illinois Baseball program!!


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Loss to Michigan drops Illinois from B1G Tourney

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David Kerian homered and drove in two runs in Illinois’ loss

The Illini gave a great effort at the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis but their chance for a tourney championship came to an end at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines. 

After a lights out performance on Friday night by John Kravetz shutting out the Michigan State Spartans, Illinois advanced to the semi finals.  On Saturday though, errors hurt the Illini again as all five Michigan runs were unearned.  Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian drove in a run early in the game and in the sixth homered to put them ahead.  An error-laden sixth inning put Michigan up for good and Illinois lost 5-3. 

Winner Michigan will advance to take on Maryland in the Championship game on Sunday. 

 

 

Game #55 / May 22, 2015    
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john kravetzOn Friday, Illinois rebounded from their loss against Maryland with a stifling shutout  win versus the Michigan State Spartans.  The ball was handed to senior starter John Kravetz for his most important assignment to date and he exceeded expectations. 

Kravetz who had never pitched past the eighth inning all year, went the distance against the Spartan offense for his first career complete game.  The numbers on Kravetz:  9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 

John Kravetz didn’t strike out many batters on Friday but instead was incredibly efficient all night.  He induced a lot of early outs and didn’t go deep into the count very often.  In fact, when the night was done, he had only thrown 92 pitches. 

Illinois’ two runs came in the third inning.  With two outs, a costly Spartan errors and two walks Adam Walton and Ryan Nagle on the in scoring position for Jason Goldstein.  Goldy’s single drove home both runners to put the Illini up 2-0 and that’s exactly where the score stayed for the rest of the game. 

John Kravetz’ win gives him a 5-0 record for the year and lowers his ERA to 3.32. 

 

 

 

Game #56 / May 23, 2015    
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IMG_5133-001No doubt, it was a solid effort by starter Rob McDonnell.  However much like the first game of the tournament, Illinois was a victim of their fielding.  A two-out error in the second inning led to two runs.  In the sixth, two more errors contributed to three runs by Michigan.  The line on McDonnell is good 5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.  The one stat he would love to take back is the ‘L’. 

Big Ten Player of the Year David Kerian gave a performance worthy of the title.  He drove in a run in the fourth with a double to bring Illinois within one, 2-1.  Later in the sixth, he solo homered to put Illinois ahead 3-2. 

Ryan Nagle (right) who continues to be productive, got two hits and drove in a run. 

 

 

 

Random Ramblings

donn pallCurious trivia:  Bryan Pall, the pitcher who won Saturday’s game for Michigan, is the nephew Donn Pall, former Illini pitcher and MLB reliever for the White Sox. 

All in all, still a very solid performance by the Illinois baseball team.  By this time, Illinois fans have higher expectations so when we see our team lose two games in three days, we wonder.  That’s just the nature of late season tournaments.  It would have been nice to see the Illini roll on through without missing a beat and still on their streak.  That’s in the past though and they have bigger things to be concerned about. 

Regardless, winning two games and lasting into the semis in the Big Ten Tournament is a great accomplishment.  I’ve gone to my share of Tourneys and seen some teams (Illinois included) go home on the second day.  The fact that Illinois did this on eight runs in four games makes it that much more amazing.  Kudos to the pitching staff.

Here is the updated tournament bracket sadly with no Illinois in the Championship rung.  Note the change in time for Sunday’s Championship game between Michigan and Maryland.  Check out more info at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Central

So what’s next for the Illini?

Illinois are dropped from the Big Ten Tournament but the action doesn’t stop now.  Because of their phenomenal season, they almost assuredly will be going on to the NCAA Regional.  In fact, they are in the running to host the Regional here at Illinois Field.  The official announcement of Regional hosts will be made on Sunday night at 7:30pm.  Keep an eye on the NCAA’s Twitter and Facebook pages or tune in to ESPN around 8pm for all the details.  Regional pairings will be announced on Monday at 11pm. 

And don’t forget, Fighting Illini has their own NCAA Regional page… you know, just in case.

Great job, Illini!!


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