Illini Welcome Xavier for Four-Game Series at Illinois Field

Junior Michael Hurwitz and the Illini will host Xavier for a four-game series at Illinois Field this weekend.
Junior Michael Hurwitz and the Illini will host Xavier for a four-game series at Illinois Field this weekend.

March 20, 2014

 Illinois (8-9) vs. Xavier (11-7)
 Game 1 Friday, March 21, 2014 | 4 p.m.
 Game 2 Saturday, March 22, 2014 | Noon (DH)
 Game3 Saturday, March 22, 2014 | 3 p.m. (DH)
 Game 4 Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Noon
 Location Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.
 Mobile Live Stats Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
 Radio WDWS AM 1400 (Dave Loane and Brian Moline (Fri.), Tim Ditman (Sat.), Lee Zerrusen (Sun.)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
 Game Notes Illinois | Xavier
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Drasen Johnson (RHP, r-Jr., 2-2, 2.48 ERA)
XU: Adam Hall (RHP, r-So., 2-0, 2.37 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, So., 1-1, 5.91 ERA)
XU: Vinny Nittoli (RHP, r-Sr., 3-0, 0.38 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, Jr., 1-1, 4.96 ERA)
XU: Scott Klever (RHP, Sr., 2-2, 3.55 ERA)
 Game 4 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Rob McDonnell (LHP, r-Jr., 1-0, 1.50)
XU: Eric Stiene (RHP, r-So., 1-0, 0.00 ERA)
 Series History First meeting
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Snider | Reid Roper | Drasen Johnson

Illinois... playing Xavier for the first time in school history 7-2 when out-hitting its opponent
...offers free admission to all home games at Illinois Field

Four-Game Series vs. Xavier
The first weekend of home baseball at Illinois Field on March 21-23 will 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. Illinois will meet Xavier for the first time in school history.

Parking Update
The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics 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
Xavier, which joined the BIG EAST from the Atlantic-10 Conference, sits at 11-7 with a .282 team average and 3.30 team ERA coming into this weekend. The Musketeers are 0-2 against the Big Ten this season, losing to Indiana (2-1) and Ohio State (10-3). Catcher Derek Hasenbeck leads the team a .342 average and 12 RBI.

Last Time Out
Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell earned his first career victory and sophomore Jason Goldstein hit his first career home run in Illinois' 8-0 shutout of Indiana State in the home opener at Illinois Field. In his first start of the year, McDonnell struck out a career-high six in five scoreless innings, while four relievers closed the contest with a scoreless inning apiece. The Illini posted their first shutout in a home opener since 1998 when they blanked Western Michigan, 6-0.

Goldstein Catches Fire
Sophomore catcher Jason Goldstein boasts the longest hitting streak by an Illini this season at nine games. The Highland Park, Ill., native, who ranks third in the Big Ten with a .404 average, is coming off a career day in which he went 3-for-3 with his first collegiate home run and career highs in runs (3) and RBI (3). He has a hit in 13 of 14 games and leads the Illini in slugging at .538, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten.

McDonnell Collects First Win
Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell collected his first career win in his fourth career start in Illinois' home opener against Indiana State. The Barrington, Ill., native threw five shutout innings and allowed three hits while striking out a career-high six Sycamores. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three appearances this year. Prior to 2014, he made two starts in 2012 before being shut down due to Tommy John surgery and started for Illinois at Busch Stadium last season, throwing the first inning in the win over Mizzou.

Limiting the Walks and Errors
Pitching and defense have been key for Illinois at the start of the 2014 season. Illinois' pitching staff has allowed the fewest walks (42) in the Big Ten, while the Illini defense has committed the second-fewest errors (18) in the conference. The Orange and Blue boast the third-best fielding percentage (.972) among Big Ten teams and ranks fourth in ERA (3.44).

Infield Combinations
Illinois' infield has a new look in 2014 with two returners and two new faces making up the diamond. Junior David Kerian and has started all 17 games at first base, while redshirt-junior Reid Roper started the first six games at third base and the last 11 at second base. Freshman Ryne Roper has started five games at shortstop and 10 games at third base, while redshirt-freshman Zack Kolakowski was the Opening Day starter at shortstop and has started 10 games at the position. Sophomore Adam Walton has made starts at shortstop and second and third base.

Outfield Options
The Illini were forced to replace all three starting outfielders - LF Jordan Parr, CF Justin Parr and RF Davis Hendrickson - from last year's NCAA Regional team. Illinois' most used outfield this season has featured sophomore Ryan Nagle in left, junior Will Krug in center and junior Casey Fletcher in right. Freshman Pat McInerney also has started in right field, while junior Chase Hainline started the first game in left followed by sophomore Adam Walton in the next two games.

Watch the Illini in 2014
A total of 15 Illini baseball games will appear on the Big Ten Network, Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN) or Fighting Illini All-Access in 2014, including six homes games at Illinois Field. Two Sunday games will be aired live on the Big Ten Network: April 6 at Northwestern and April 20 at Penn State. The BTN will also televise up to 11 games of the 2014 Big Ten Tournament (May 21-25) at T.D. Ameritrade Stadium. Four series are currently scheduled to be streamed on BTDN: Michigan (April 11-13), Michigan State (May 2-4), at Iowa (May 9-11) and at Nebraska (May 15-17).