Catcher Aaron Johnson was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and pitcher Ben Reeser earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors after the Illini took two of three games at No. 1 LSU last weekend.
March 9, 2009
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Junior catcher Aaron Johnson was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and senior pitcher Ben Reeser earned the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor after both were instrumental in Illinois' series victory at No. 1 LSU this past weekend. Johnson shared the honor with Michigan center fielder Ryan LaMarre.
It is the first time that the Illini have won both Player and Pitcher of the Week honors in the same week since Larry Sutton and Bubba Smith accomplished the feat on April 2, 1991, and it is Illinois' second co-Player of the Week award this season with second baseman Josh Parr receiving the laurel on March 2.
The Illini won two out of the three games in the series to earn a No. 21 national ranking in this week's Collegiate Baseball poll, Illinois' first appearance in the national polls since April 17, 2000, and the program's highest ranking since being voted No. 20 in the May 11, 1998 poll.
Johnson led the Illini with a .500 average on the weekend, going 6-for-12 with a team-best five RBIs. He came up big in the ninth inning of Friday's series opener, blasting a two-run homer to give the Illini a 3-1 win. After going 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Saturday's loss, Johnson stayed hot with a three-hit performance in Illinois' 6-2 series-clinching win on Sunday. He also threw out 4-of-6 would-be base-stealers by an LSU team that entered the weekend having stolen 30-of-35 bases in nine games.
Reeser was magnificent in Illinois' 6-2 win over No. 1 LSU on Sunday, tossing 8 2/3 shutout innings before allowing a homer and two doubles and heading to the dugout to see closer Nick Chmielewski record the final out. Reeser struck out a career-high nine hitters, scattering six hits and four walks while allowing LSU to hit just .194.
The Fighting Illini open the home schedule Friday against Akron at 3 p.m., the first game of a four-game series. Saturday's doubleheader starts at noon and Sunday's finale begins at 1 p.m.