Illini Head West for Nike College Showcase
March 8, 2012
Illini Line Drives
Power Turned on for 2012: After hitting 29 home runs in 57 games a year ago, the Illini flashed some power early in 2012. Illinois has six homers in nine games, including two in the season-opener against Notre Dame. The 2011 squad needed 14 games to hit five homers, as they didn't reach that mark until March 18.
Young Arms Show Promise: A trio of young pitchers has stepped up early in 2012 as sophomore Ronnie Muck, redshirt-freshman Reid Roper and true-freshman John Kravetz have combined to allow only nine runs in 23 2/3 innings of work. Muck has posted three consecutive scoreless outings, including two perfect innings against St. John's on March 2, while Roper notched a pair of scoreless appearances against St. John's and Lamar. Kravetz has pitched well in his first three career appearances, allowing only four earned runs in 16 innings.
Leaving 'em Stranded: Three Illini relievers have shown an exceptional ability to strand inherited runners early in 2012, with Drasen Johnson, Ronnie Muck and Reid Roper taking over on the mound with 13 runners on base and allowing only one to score (.077). Johnson has stranded 6-of-7 inherited runners, while Muck is 4-for-4 and Roper is 2-for-2. As a team, Illinois has stranded a solid 71 percent of inherited runners (22-of-31).
Offense is Solid...Once It Gets Going: The Illini are scoring a respectable 6.2 runs per game, which is even more impressive considering they've done it with only 9.6 hits per game. That is due in large part to the fact that Illinois hitters have advanced runners at a .613 rate and are hitting .377 with runners in scoring position. But the Orange and Blue have run into some trouble getting innings started as they're hitting only .223 with the bases empty compared to a .377 average with runners on base.
Illinois Heads West to Nike College Showcase
Oregon is one of the hottest teams in the country at 10-1, having won 10 straight games after dropping its season-opener at Hawaii, and moving up to No. 18 in this week's National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) rankings. In addition, the Ducks have three consecutive walk-off victories after sweeping Long Beach State with wins in their final at bat in all three games. Oregon has been solid in all three aspects, hitting .285 as a team, posting a 3.17 team ERA and a .974 fielding percentage with only 12 errors in 11 games.
Connecticut has scuffled to start 2012, posting a 4-6 record to this point. The Huskies went 1-2 at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, beating Indiana but falling to Purdue and Ohio State. UConn has lost four of its last six and six of its last nine games, largely because of defensive issues. The Huskies have committed 22 errors in 10 games, which has negated a 3.72 team ERA and a .279 team batting average.
OSU is ranked No. 22 in this week's NCBWA poll after going 3-1 at the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., last week. The Beavers have done it with their bats, scoring 7.25 runs per game and averaging 2.0 doubles per game for a .291 team average. They have played reasonably good defense with a .962 fielding percentage but have struggled a bit on the mound, posting a 5.08 team ERA.
West Virginia has slipped to 5-5 after opening the season 3-1 at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge with wins over Northwestern, Penn State and Iowa, and a loss to Michigan. They dropped three games at the Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., two weeks ago but beat Nebraska and New Mexico State while falling to Minnesota at last weekend's Dairy Queen Classic in the Metrodome. WVU is hitting a meager .220 and has committed only 11 errors in 10 games for a .970 fielding percentage. But they've posted a 5.79 team ERA while allowing opponents to hit .294.
Illini Against Tournament Field