March 17, 2014
...is 5-1 in its last six home openers
...is 6-2 when out-hitting its opponent
...offers free admission to all home games at Illinois Field
Home Opener vs. Sycamores
Illinois will play its home opener on Tuesday, March 18, at 3 p.m. against Indiana State at Illinois Field. The Illini return home after spending the first five weeks of the season on the road, where they went 7-9. Illinois is 6-2 in home openers under ninth-year head coach Dan Hartleb. UI also faced the Sycamores in its 2011 home opener, winning 7-6.
Schedule & Parking Updates
The first weekend of home baseball at Illinois Field on March 21-23 will now feature four games against Xavier. The Illini will play one game on Friday, March 21, starting at 4 p.m., a doubleheader on Saturday, March 22, beginning at noon and a single game on Sunday, March 23, starting at noon.
The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics also announced parking changes to begin the year. The grass parking lots surrounding Illinois Field will be closed for the start of the 2014 season due to effects of the winter weather. Fans attending games at Illinois Field should park in either the Northeast State Farm Center quadrant or the parking lot at the Bielfeldt Athletic Administration Building (weekend only) with entrance off Fourth Street.
Know Your Opponent
Indiana State sits at 14-2 overall and received votes in this week's NCBWA national poll. The Sycamores lost their season opener to Auburn before rolling off 12 consecutive victories, including wins over Ohio State and Connecticut. Last weekend, ISU took two out of three from UNC-Wilmington. Illinois will face Indiana State, which leads the all-time series 35-34-2, for the first time since falling 6-4 in Terre Haute, Ind., on April 24, 2012. The Indiana State offense's catalyst is center fielder and leadoff hitter, Landon Curry, who is batting .319 and leads the team with 19 runs scored. Right fielder Jacob Hayes and catcher Mike Fitzgerald are tied for the team lead in home runs (2) and RBI (13). The Sycamores' pitching staff is led by ace David Stagg, who is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts this season. Indiana State will use a staff day to counter Illinois starter, Rob McDonnell (0-0, 9.00 ERA).
Last Time Out
Illinois dropped two out of three at Southern Illinois in the inaugural series at Itchy Jones Stadium. Sophomore Kevin Duchene took a perfect game into the seventh inning before cruising to a complete-game 5-1 victory in the opener. Duchene faced two over the minimum while allowing four hits and striking out six on 93 pitches. Illinois was unable to take the series from SIU, suffering one-run losses in both games of the doubleheader on Saturday. The Illini led 4-0 after one inning in the first game, but fell 6-5, while the offense was unable to get things going until the ninth inning of game two, as UI came up short, 3-2. Illinois outscored the Salukis 12-10 in the three-game series, but committed five errors, which proved costly.
McDonnell on the Mound
Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell will make his fourth career start when he takes the ball on Tuesday afternoon. He made two starts in 2012 before being shut down due to injury and started for Illinois at Busch Stadium last season, throwing the first inning in the win over Mizzou. The Barrington, Ill., native has made two appearances so far this year, allowing one run in one inning pitched.
Nagle Ranks Among Big Ten Leaders
Sophomore Ryan Nagle ranks second in the Big Ten in average (.417) and tied for fourth in hits (25). His .463 on-base percentage is fifth in the conference, while his .500 slugging percentage is ninth. The Streator, Ill., native is also tied for eighth in doubles (5) and 10th in RBI (13). He has started all 16 games, with the last 10 in left field.
Illini Promotion Details Announced
The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced a full slate of marketing promotions for the 2014 home season at Illinois Field. The sixth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue (April 27), Honor and Serve Day (May 3) and Kid Captain and birthday party opportunities at every game highlight the list of Fighting Illini baseball promotions.
Baseball Bingo presented by Olive Garden also will be available at every game. Each fan that participates will receive a $5 off coupon, and the winner of baseball bingo will receive a free appetizer or menu item from Olive Garden. Baseball cards will be given away at the final three Big Ten series, and select players will sign autographs after every Friday home game.
The sixth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue presented by WCIA, the premier promotion for Fighting Illini baseball, will be held Sunday, April 27, when Illinois hosts Indiana at 1 p.m. at Illinois Field. This year's event will feature free BBQ for the first 500 people, courtesy of Hickory River.
For the third year in a row, the Illini will wear special commemorative jerseys as part of Honor and Serve Day at Illinois Field. The event, which is designed to honor University of Illinois student veterans and all of America's military heroes along with serving the Champaign-Urbana community, will be held on Saturday, May 3, when Illinois hosts Michigan State at 1 p.m. Local little league teams are also invited to the game as part of Little League Day.
Kids also are able to celebrate their birthday at any home game this season. The party deal includes hot dogs, sodas and popcorn along with personalized cupcakes, Illinois pennants, reserved seating, a birthday card signed by the team and a birthday message on the scoreboard. Members of the Fighting Illini Kids Club also can enter to be a Kid Captain at a home game. Each Kid Captain will receive a Fighting Illini T-shirt and get to play catch on the field before the game.
Special concession stand deals will be offered throughout the season, such as Thirsty Tuesday (half-price sodas), Family Fridays (hot dog, chips and drink for $6), $1 frozen chills on Saturdays and $2 nachos on Sundays. The 2014 Illinois Baseball Record Book and game programs with scorecards also will be on sale at the concession stand at every game.