Baseball
Illinois to Host Purdue for First Big Ten Series

 
Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson will take the ball Friday to begin the three-game series against Purdue.
Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson will take the ball Friday to begin the three-game series against Purdue.
 

March 27, 2014

 Illinois (12-10) vs. Purdue (4-16)
 Game 1 Friday, March 28, 2014 | 4 p.m.
 Game 2 Saturday, March 29, 2014 | 3 p.m.
 Game 3 Sunday, March 30, 2014 | 1 p.m.
 Location Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.
 Mobile Live Stats Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM 1400: Dave Loane and Ben Taylor (Fri.), Scott Beatty (Sat. & Sun.)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Game Notes Illinois | Purdue
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Drasen Johnson (RHP, r-Jr., 2-3, 3.09 ERA)
PUR: Jordan Minch (LHP, So., 0-4, 6.42 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, So., 2-1, 4.00 ERA)
PUR: Gavin Downs (RHP, So., 1-2, 3.90 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Rob McDonnell (LHP, r-Jr., 1-0, 2.89 ERA)
PUR: TBA
 Series History Illinois leads 157-79-1
 Last Season Illinois swept series, 3-0
 Streak W3
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook

Illinois...
...will host its first Big Ten series against Purdue
...has won four straight and five of its last six games
...is in the midst of a nine-game homestand
...is 11-2 when out-hitting its opponent but 0-8 when getting out-hit
...boasts the second-best ERA (3.13) in the Big Ten
...offers free admission to all home games at Illinois Field

Illini Open Big Ten Play vs. Purdue
Illinois, which has won four straight and five of its last six games, will conclude its nine-game homestand with its first Big Ten series at Illinois Field this weekend. The Illini, who are scheduled to play four of their first six Big Ten series at home, will welcome Purdue to Champaign for a three-game set from March 28-30. Friday's game is sponsored by Olive Garden with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. Select Illinois players will be available for postgame autographs after Friday's contest. Saturday's start is scheduled for 3 p.m., while Sunday will be Super Hero Day with a 1 p.m. start and wiffle ball for kids following the game. Fans that come dressed as their favorite super hero will have a chance to win Illinois baseball prizes. Admission is free for all regular season home games.

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
Purdue has struggled to start the 2014 campaign with a 4-16 record, but is coming off a 7-1 victory over IPFW in its homer opener this week. The Boilermakers have a pair of wins over Butler and one at Southern Illinois this season. They are last in the Big Ten with a .228 average, 57 runs scored and a 6.97 team ERA. Illinois owns a 157-79-1 edge in the all-time series and swept the series with Purdue last season, racking up 50 hits and 40 runs while hitting .420 for the weekend. The 40 runs was the most by an Illinois team in a three-game conference series since the Big Ten switched to this format in 2009.

Last Time Out
Sophomore Jason Goldstein was clutch with two outs and finished a career-best 4-for-4 with three RBI in Illinois' 6-1 victory over Illinois State (15-7). Sophomore J.D. Nielsen was credited with his first career win following two scoreless relief innings as part of a staff day in which the Illini used six pitchers. Illinois won its fourth straight game and improved to 12-10 overall.

Big Ten Openers
Since the Big Ten switched from a four-game series format to three games in 2009, Illinois is 8-7 in its conference-opening series. The Illini swept Michigan State in 2009 (3-0), took two of three from Penn State in 2010 (2-1) and dropped two of three at Penn State in 2011 (1-2) and at Nebraska in 2012 (1-2). Last season, the Illini opened Big Ten play at home against Nebraska and went 1-2. The Orange and Blue opened Big Ten action against Purdue in each of coach Hartleb's first two seasons, going 2-2 in both 2006 and 2007.

Goldstein Lights Up the Midweek
Sophomore catcher Jason Goldstein has dominated during Illinois' first two midweek games, going 7-for-7 with four runs, a homer, six RBI and two walks. He ranks second in the Big Ten with a .408 average and a .475 on-base percentage and fifth with a .521 slugging percentage, which leads the Illini in each category. The Highland Park, Ill., native hit his first collegiate home run as part of a 3-for-3 day against Indiana State (3/18) and went a career-best 4-for-4 against Illinois State (3/26). He has a hit in 17 of 19 games played and turned in the longest hitting streak by an Illini this season at 10 games from Feb. 28 to March 21.

Pitching Gets Better and Better
After struggling with a 9.11 ERA in the season-opening series at Georgia State, the Illini pitching staff has been nearly lights out since then with a 2.18 ERA. They allowed 28 runs and a .388 average in the first three games followed by just 49 runs and a .248 average in the last 19 games. For the season, Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.13 ERA.

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 (55) in the Big Ten and ranks 19th in the NCAA with 2.51 walks allowed per nine innings. The Illini defense has committed the second-fewest errors (22) in the conference and boasts the second-best fielding percentage (.974) among Big Ten teams.

Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 12 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .321 and have a 2.09 ERA, while in their 10 losses, they are batting .203 and have a 4.52 ERA.

Illini Picked T-5th in B1G Poll
Illinois was picked to finish tied for fifth in the Big Ten in the preseason poll voted on by the conference coaches. The Illini received the same number of votes as Michigan, while Indiana was the unanimous choice as the preseason favorite to claim the Big Ten Championship followed by Nebraska (2nd), Ohio State (3rd) and Michigan State (4th). Starting pitcher Kevin Duchene, first baseman David Kerian and closer Ronnie Muck were named Players to Watch from Illinois.

Mizzou Game Moved to Busch
The Illinois-Missouri game originally slated for May 6 in Sauget, Ill., has been moved to April 2 at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Illini and Tigers will battle for Braggin' Rights at Busch for the fourth time in the past five years. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the Wednesday night. Tickets to the annual game are just $15 and include $5 in Cards Cash. Tickets are currently on sale online at cardinals.com/illini, via phone by calling 314-345-9000 and at the Busch Stadium Box Office.

Last season, Illinois topped Mizzou for the first time in the series at Busch Stadium, capitalizing on five errors on its way to a 6-2 victory. In 2012, the Illini scored three runs in the first inning but Missouri scored in each of the first four innings and held on for a 5-4 win. The 2011 contest was rained out, and Mizzou won the inaugural Battle at Busch in 2010, 7-4.

HEADLINES