Brian Long finished both of Illinois' wins at Texas-Pan American last weekend.
March 8, 2007
Games 7-9 // Texas-Arlington
March 9 // 6:30 pm
March 10 // 2 pm
March 11 // 1 pm
Clay Gould Ballpark // Arlington, Texas
Illinois (2-4) at Texas-Arlington (6-10)
Live Coverage: Gametracker on fightingillini.com
Saturday's game on Arlington cable access
Series: Illinois leads 2-1
Last Meeting: Illinois 3, Texas-Arlington 2 (3/13/05)
Game 1 Probables: Scott Shaw (RHP, 1-1, 6.43 ERA) vs. Chris Taylor (RHP, 2-0, 3.10 ERA)
Game 2 Probables: Mike Stankiewicz (RHP, 0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (RHP, 1-3, 4.76 ERA)
Game 3 Probables: Tanner Roark (RHP, 0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Kendal Carrillo (RHP, 0-0, 4.61 ERA)
Illini Line Drives
The Fighting Illini lead the Big Ten in hitting with a .330 team average, 12 points higher than Northwestern, who is second.
Illinois is third in the conference in runs scored - having played fewer games than the teams in first and second place - and second in stolen bases.
Illinois is hitting over .400 as a team in four different innings - the first, third, seventh and ninth. The ninth has been the Illini's most producting inning with 11 runs.
Illinois' pitching staff has a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, fanning 32 batters while putting on only 16.
Four Illini hit better than .400 at the Al Ogletree Classic: Kyle Hudson (.667), Lars Davis (.533), Brandon Wikoff (.429) and Shawn Roof (.417). Those same four hitters are also hitting better than .400 for the season.
Kyle Hudson leads Illinois with five multiple-hit games (4 two-hit, 1 four-hit), while Lars Davis' two multiple-RBI games are best on the squad.
Series History: Texas-Arlington
All-time, the Illini are 2-1 against Texas-Arlington with all three meetings coming in a three-game series at the Mavericks' home field in 2005. Illinois won the first and third games of that series.
Last Time vs. Texas-Arlington
The last time Illinois faced Texas-Arlington, the Illini took two of three games from the Mavericks in their 2005 series. Illinois lost the first game, 5-1, after grounding into three double plays and getting just four hits from the lower six hitters in the batting order. The Orange and Blue rebounded for a 4-2 win in the second game behind a strong outing from starter Jimmy Conroy. On Sunday, the Illini manufactured a run in the 11th inning to take a 3-2 win with Trevor Huisinga singling home Drew Davidson from second for the winning run.
Current Illini vs. UTA
Five current Illini faced Texas-Arlington in that 2005 series, with Mike Rohde serving as the DH, Ryan Hastings and Shawn Roof splitting time at second base, Jake Toohey throwing relief in game three and Aaron Ifft pinch-running in the first game.
Rohde went 3-for-10 in the series with a run and a walk, Roof was 2-for-7 with two runs and two sacrifice bunts - including a suicide squeeze in game two - and Hastings went 1-for-4 in his last game of 2005 before being shut down for the season with a wrist injury. Toohey threw 4 2/3 innings of relief in two appearances, tossing two shutout innings in Illinois' 4-2 win in game two and allowing an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings of action in game three.
Last Time Out: Al Ogletree Classic
Illinois started hot at the Al Ogletree Classic last weekend, whipping Sam Houston State 14-5 for its first win of 2007. Lars Davis went 4-for-5 with a triple, three runs and two RBI to lead a 15-hit attack by the Orange and Blue. Illinois scored in five innings, including a six-run explosion in the sixth inning. Scott Shaw got the win on the mound.
The Illini bats cooled off against host Texas-Pan American and the Orange and Blue fell, 5-3. Illinois recovered from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game 3-3 but UTPA scored in the sixth and eighth innings to take the lead for good. Kyle Hudson and Brandon Wikoff each went 2-for-4.
The Orange and Blue jumped ahead of Stephen F. Austin, but the Lumberjacks fought back for a 4-3 lead after six innings. Illinois bounced back with eight runs in the final three innings to win 11-6 and win two of three games at the tournament. Hudson had a career day, hitting 4-for-5 with a double, four RBI, a run and a steal, and Shawn Roof tied the single-game school record with four stolen bases.
Just One, Please
Through the season's first six games, 63 of 75 (84 percent) of Illinois' hits have been singles. Despite the lack of power, the Illini have found ways to bunch hits together, registering more than 10 hits in all but two games, and notching nine hits in each of those contests. Illinois is averaging 12.5 hits per game.
Three Down, One to Go
Illinois has had a surprisingly high rate of success of driving in a runner from third with less than two outs so far this season. In that situation, the Illini have brought home the runner 74 percent of the time (20-of-27). Of those opportunities, Kyle Hudson (3-for-3), Mike Rohde (2-for-2), Shawn Roof (2-for-2), Joe Bonadonna (1-for-1), Craig Lutes (1-for-1) and Daniel Webb (1-for-1) all are perfect in the situation.
Wikoff Showing He Belongs
Freshman third baseman Brandon Wikoff has provided a hot bat and solid defense in his rookie season, hitting .407 through six games while committing just two errors. In moving Mike Rohde to first, the Illini needed a third baseman to fill his shoes. Wikoff has done just that, also serving as the Illinois lead-off man in three games. Last week at the Al Ogletree Classic, Wikoff hit .429.
Strong at Both Ends
Illinois was good offensively in both the first and ninth innings last weekend, hitting .429 to start games and .467 in the final frames. Two players - Brandon Wikoff and Shawn Roof - have at least one hit and one run in each of the first and ninth innings.
Roof at it Again
After finishing second in the Big Ten in steals in 2006, Shawn Roof hasn't wasted any time on the basepaths this season. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, he stole a pair of bases on the same trip around the infield, taking both second and third bases in the fourth inning of the Sunday game. Exactly one week later, Roof broke his career high and tied the school single-game record with four steals against Stephen F. Austin. He now has seven multiple-steal games in his career.
Long Finishes the Job
After a less-than-impressive outing in his first appearance of the season, Brian Long appeared to return to his 2006 form at the Al Ogletree Classic, picking up a save and finishing two games. The senior right-hander finished the Illini's 14-5 win over Sam Houston State with a scoreless ninth inning, then picked up the save with two near-perfect innings of work. Long came on in the eighth with one run already in and runners on second and third. He allowed a sacrifice fly to the first hitter he faced, then induced a groundout and another flyout to get out of the jam before pitching a scoreless ninth. It was his first save since 2004, when he was a freshman at Eastern Illinois.
K-Hud Proves to be a Pest
Centerfielder Kyle Hudson has been quite the best to opponents this season, both offensively and defensively. Hudson's range in the outfield is well known, and never was it more apparent than on a flyball hit by the first Stephen F. Austin batter who faced Brian Long in the eighth inning. The hitter lifted a shallow pop-up to left-center, but Hudson appeared to misjudge the ball off the bat. He quickly got a better read on it, sprinted in and made a diving catch. A run scored on the sacrifice fly, but the out diffused a potentially ugly situation for the Illini.
Offensively, Hudson has been a demon, hitting .667 at the Al Ogletree Classic with five RBI and four runs, while reaching base at a .714 clip. He stole two bases over the weekend and had the game-winning hits in both Illinois victories. He also had at least two hits in every game of the tournament and now leads the team with a .500 average. He currently has a five-game hitting streak, tied for second-best on the team, and leads the team with five multiple-hit games.
Lars Davis, Canadian Hitting Machine
Trying to keep up with Hudson's torrid pace over the weekend, catcher Lars Davis swung it at a .533 clip at the Al Ogletree Classic, with two triples, five RBI and five runs for an .800 slugging percentage. Davis also threw out 4-of-10 would-be base-stealers, effectively shutting down the running games of Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin. Davis currently holds a team-best six-game hitting streak.
*Complete game notes available in the above PDF.