Spring Trip at Southern Illinois Up Next for Illinois
March 14, 2013
Bullpen Buries Baylor: During the series sweep at Baylor, the Illini bullpen did not give up an earned run and only allowed three hits in 9.2 innings of relief. As a staff, the Illini pitchers combined for a 1.86 ERA and held BU to a .176 average for the weekend. They only allowed six earned runs and 18 hits in 29 innings of work and totaled 21 strikeouts compared to 12 walks.
Two relievers, Ronnie Muck and Tyler Jay, earned their first wins of the season in the first two games of the series, while sophomore Reid Roper recorded back-to-back saves. Muck got the W following the ninth-inning comeback in the series opener, while Jay picked up his first career victory following 3.1 scoreless innings during the 11-inning second game. Roper, who has not allowed a hit in 2.2 innings, has three saves in three chances, which is tied for third in the Big Ten.
Early Offense Key for Illini: The Illini are 6-2 when scoring in the first inning and 9-2 when scoring before their opponent. Illinois is outscoring its opponents 14-4 in the first frame and rank second in the Big Ten with 92 runs on the year. The Orange and Blue have scored double-digit runs in six different innings on the season, while their opponents only have one. Illinois' highest scoring inning is the seventh with 18.
Hurwitz Goes Deep, Scores Game-Winner in Waco: Sophomore Michael Hurwitz hit a two-run homer in the first inning and scored the game-winning run in the final frame, as Illinois used a ninth-inning comeback to defeat Baylor, 4-3, in the series opener in Waco. Trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth, sophomore Will Krug scored the game-tying run on a Justin Parr groundout, while Hurwitz crossed the plate as the winning run when David Kerian beat out an infield single. Hurwitz also gave the Illini a 2-0 advantage in the first inning, hitting his first career home run to start off Illinois' first night game of the season.
Parrs Driving Illini Home: Twin brothers Jordan and Justin Parr are both back for the second-straight season and are leading the Big Ten with 16 RBI each. Left-handed Justin (25-for-59) and right-handed Jordan (19-for-56) boast the top two hit totals on the team and are hitting .382 combined (44-for-115) as the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup. Jordan's three home runs are tied for the conference lead, while Justin checks in with the third-most hits with 25. Jordan also is fourth in the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.571) and tied for second in stolen bases (7).
Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .339 (60-for-177) with two outs in an inning and led by sophomore David Kerian, who is 9-for-16 (.563) when faced with the situation. The Illini have 40 two-out RBI, meaning 48 percent (40-of-83) of their RBI have come with two outs. Kerian, Thomas Lindauer and Jordan Parr lead the team with seven two-out RBI each. Four other players are hitting over .400 with two outs: Jordan Parr 9-for-19 (.474), Will Krug 6-for-13 (.462), Michael Hurwitz 8-for-19 (.421) and Justin Parr 10-for-24 (.417).
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 47, which is one more than the rest of the Illinois staff combined (46). He currently ranks fifth in school history with 291.2 innings pitched and eighth with 186 career strikeouts. His 22 strikeouts this season are tied for the second-most in the Big Ten.
Can't Hit Kravetz: Sophomore John Kravetz picked up his second win of the year in the second game of the doubleheader at Baylor, where he equaled a career high with 8 innings pitched and allowed only one run and three hits. The Lansing, Ill., native has not allowed an extra-base hit in three starts and 18.2 IP. He is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA and has only given up 16 hits.
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). The freshmen duo are both 2-0 on the year and boast double-digit strikeout totals - Blackburn (15) & Duchene (11).
Spring Trip vs. Southern Illinois
Senior Kevin Johnson (2-1, 3.28 ERA) will start the series opener on Friday at 3 p.m. against Sam Coonrod (1-0, 2.86 ERA). Freshman Nick Blackburn (2-0, 3.97 ERA) will take the hill in game two on Saturday at 2 p.m. against lefty Cody Forsythe (1-1, 2.95 ERA). Sunday's game at Rent One Park will feature freshman Kevin Duchene (2-0, 4.12 ERA) vs. Derek Fogel (0-1, 4.58 ERA). Sophomore John Kravetz (2-0, 3.86 ERA) will start the final game on Monday at 1 p.m., while the SIU starter is TBA. Gametracker will be available for every game on fightingillini.com, while a subscription is required for live video and audio on siusalukis.com.
Illini Keep on Running
Game Time Changed for Series Finale vs. Nebraska