Illini Head Back to Texas for Series at Baylor
March 7, 2013
Parrs Among Conference Leaders: Twin brothers Jordan and Justin Parr are both back for the second-straight season and are starting in left and center field, respectively. Left-handed Justin (23-for-48) and right-handed Jordan (16-for-44) boast the top two hit totals on the team and are hitting .424 combined (39-for-92) as the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup. Justin's 23 hits lead the Big Ten and are tied for the fifth-most in the NCAA, while Jordan's 16 hits are tied for fourth. The brothers hold the top two spots in RBI with 14 for Jordan and 13 for Justin. Jordan is tied for first in the conference with two home runs and tied for second with six stolen bases. Justin (.604) and Jordan (.591) are fourth and fifth, respectively, in slugging percentage. Justin is also tied for third in on-base percentage (.510), while Jordan is tied for fifth with 10 runs.
Illini Ace Back in the No. 1 Spot: Senior Kevin Johnson was selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft following the 2012 season, but elected to return to school for his final season in orange and blue. Johnson, who is in his third season as Illinois' No. 1 starter, won his first start of the season for the first time in his career, striking out six over six innings and allowing one run in the Illini's season-opening victory at Tennessee Tech. He picked up his second win at Texas-Arlington, striking out six and allowing no earned runs over 6.2 innings. The Midlothian, Ill., native has not missed a start in his career and owns the most starts on the current Illini staff with 46, which is more than the rest of the Illinois staff combined (44). He currently ranks sixth in school history with 285.1 innings pitched and ninth with 182 career strikeouts. His 18 strikeouts this season are ranked second in the Big Ten.
Freshmen Record First Career Wins: Two freshmen pitchers, left-hander Kevin Duchene and right-hander Nick Blackburn, each picked up their first career wins at the Keith LeClair Classic. Duchene earned the victory over Ohio (11-6), tossing 5.1 innings and allowing four earned runs. Blackburn turned in a quality start in his win over Boston College, striking out five over 6.2 innings with no earned runs. Both freshmen notched their second wins at the UTA/Hilton Invitational, as Duchene gave up no earned runs over 8.2 innings vs. Houston Baptist (8-3) and Blackburn let in two earned runs over 6.2 innings vs. HBU (12-3).
Krug, Hurwitz Sparking Victories: Since moving Will Krug into the leadoff spot vs. Ohio on Feb. 22, the Illini have won six of their last seven games. As the first two hitters in the lineup, Krug and Michael Hurwitz are leading the Illini with nine runs scored over that 6-1 stretch. On the season, Hurwitz holds the top spot in the Big Ten with 11 walks and is tied for third in the conference with a .510 on-base percentage. The pair of 5-8 speedsters set the table for the Illini offense, which has led to the Parr brothers boasting the top two RBI totals in the league.
Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .360 (50-for-139) with two outs in an inning and led by sophomore David Kerian, who is 8-for-13 (.615) when faced with the situation. The Illini have 38 two-out RBI, meaning 55 percent (38-of-69) of their RBI have come with two outs. Kerian, Thomas Lindauer and Jordan Parr lead the team with seven two-out RBI each. Three other players are hitting over .400 with two outs: Justin Parr 10-for-21 (.476), Michael Hurwitz 8-for-16 (.500) and Jordan Parr 8-for-16 (.500).
Solid in the Seventh: The Illini are leading the Big Ten with 77 runs scored on the year and have totaled double-digit runs in four different innings. Illinois' top inning is the seventh with 17 runs followed by the fourth (13), fifth (12) and second (10).
Illini Against Baylor in Waco
The series pitching matchups will feature all right-handed pitchers. Senior Kevin Johnson (2-1) will take the hill on Friday in Illinois' first night game of the season at 6:35 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark. The Illini ace will square off against junior Dillon Newman, who is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA. Saturday will feature a doubleheader with freshman Nick Blackburn (2-0) facing senior Max Garner (1-2) in game one at 2:05 p.m. followed by sophomore John Kravetz (1-0) against sophomore Austin Stone (0-1) at 6:35 p.m. in game two.
Illinois hit .329 as a team and scored 32 runs over the four games in Arlington, where they downed Houston Baptist twice and Texas-Arlington once along with nearly overcoming a five-run deficit in the final game. Four players hit over .400, led by Thomas Lindauer at .467 (7-for-15). Reid Roper registered a .417 average (.512), while Justin Parr hit .412 (7-for-17) and Jordan Parr totaled a mark of .400 (6-for-15). The pitching staff only allowed 10 earned runs and combined for a 2.57 ERA. The Illini also had 13 extra-base hits with nine doubles, two triples and two home runs.