Illinois to Host Four-Game Series against Oakland

Sophomore Michael Hurwitz and the Illini will play Oakland for the first time in school history with a four-game series scheduled this weekend.
Sophomore Michael Hurwitz and the Illini will play Oakland for the first time in school history with a four-game series scheduled this weekend.

March 28, 2013

 Illinois (14-6) vs. Oakland (3-15)
 Game 1 Friday, March 29, 2013 | 4:05 p.m.
 Game 2 Saturday, March 30, 2013 | Noon (DH)
 Game 3 Saturday, March 30, 2013 | 3 p.m. (DH)
 Game 4 Sunday, March 31, 2013 | 12:05 p.m.
 Location Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.
 Live Video ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 4
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
 Game Notes Illinois (PDF) | Oakland
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Johnson (RHP, Sr., 3-1, 2.33 ERA)
OAK: Jason Hager (LHP, r-Jr., 0-3, 5.23 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Duchene (LHP, Fr., 2-0, 3.98 ERA)
OAK: Jake Paulson (RHP, r-So., 0-3, 2.81 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, So., 2-0, 4.15 ERA)
OAK: Tim Koons (RHP, Jr., 2-3, 3.15 ERA)
 Game 4 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Nick Blackburn (RHP, Fr., 2-0, 4.44 ERA)
OAK: Chris Van Dyke (RHP, So., 1-2, 6.48 ERA)
 Series History First meeting
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | Kevin Johnson | Jordan Parr

Illinois Is...
...playing a 4-game series with a doubleheader Saturday
...facing Oakland for the first time in school history
...9-0 when leading after 7 innings
...10-1 when out-hitting its opponent
...9-1 when its starter gets the decision
...outscoring its opponents 122-85
...hitting .300 with six home runs

Series Update: 4 Games vs. Oakland
4-Game Series with Doubleheader Saturday: University of Illinois head baseball coach Dan Hartleb announced a schedule change for this weekend's series against Oakland. A fourth game was added to the series, meaning the Illini and Grizzlies will play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 30 beginning at noon. Illinois will still play game one of the series on Friday, March 29 at 4:05 p.m. and the final game of the series on Sunday, March 31 at 12:05 p.m. Illinois and Oakland will meet for the first time in school history when they square off on Friday.

Parking & Promotions Details: Due to the heavy snow accumulation this week, the grass parking lot will be closed for the entire weekend. Fans will be able to park in the northeast Assembly Hall lot and the Bielfeldt lot beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday. Promotions for this weekend include a concession stand codfish special on Friday and an Easter egg hunt on Saturday along with special appearances by the Easter bunny. Kids eighth grade and under will be able to take part in the Easter egg hunt on Illinois Field in between games of Saturday's doubleheader around 3 p.m.

Notes on Oakland: Oakland, a member of the Summit League, is 3-15 on the year with two wins over Ohio and one over Buffalo. The Grizzlies were swept in a four-game series last weekend by Michigan State in East Lansing and have lost seven of their last eight games, including five in a row. OU is hitting .185 with 55 runs on the year, and its pitching staff has a 5.79 ERA with an opponent batting average of .295.

Team Notes on the Illini
Walk-Off Win: Illinois earned its first walk-off win since May 21, 2011 (7-5 over Indiana) when redshirt-junior Alex Lincoln executed a suicide squeeze bunt to defeat Nebraska, 8-7, in the first game of the doubleheader. Lincoln laid down a perfect bunt with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to bring home junior Thomas Lindauer for his first RBI of the year. The Illini's last walk-off win came in dramatic fashion in 2011 when Matt Dittman crushed a two-run, opposite-field walk-off home run to complete a three-game sweep of Indiana and give Illinois a share of the Big Ten Championship.

Second in Steals: The Illini are currently second in the Big Ten with 41 stolen bases in 48 attempts, which is 27th in the NCAA. Jordan Parr leads the team and is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with eight stolen bases. David Kerian and Justin Parr are tied for second on the team with seven SBs, while Will Krug has six. Ten different Illini have at least one stolen base, and the Orange and Blue have only been caught stealing seven times, which is tied for the second lowest mark in the Big Ten.

Road Streaks: Illinois won 12 of 13 games from Feb. 22 to March 18, marking the best stretch by an Illini team since 1998 when they won 13 of 14 from March 25-April 11. The stretch featured a pair of season-long six-game winning streaks. The Orange and Blue received votes in the NCBWA poll for two weeks in a row following their back-to-back sweeps of Baylor and Southern Illinois. The last time they swept two consecutive road series was in 2009 at Penn State (April 24-26) and at Northwestern (May 1-3).

Non-Conference Pitching Comparisons: In its first four games of the year, the Illini went 1-3, and the pitching staff posted a 6.15 ERA while allowing 23 earned runs in 33.2 innings. In the following 13 games, Illinois went 12-1, and its hurlers made the difference, compiling a 2.25 ERA after allowing just 30 earned runs in 120 innings. Opponents started hitting .321 against UI in the first four games, but were held to a .233 average over those next 13 contests.

Early Offense Key for Illini: The Illini are 7-2 when scoring in the first inning and 12-2 when scoring before their opponent. Illinois is outscoring its opponents 15-5 in the first frame and has scored double-digit runs in seven different innings on the season. Illinois' highest scoring innings are the fifth and seventh with 18 runs, and the Illini rank third in the Big Ten with 122 runs on the year.

Illini Player Notes
Resilient Roberts Returns: Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts, the oldest player on the Illini, has earned the win in Illinois' last three victories. He notched the Orange and Blue's first Big Ten win this season against Nebraska and picked up back-to-back wins at Southern Illinois, marking his first victories in nearly three years after redshirting the 2011 season following tommy john surgery and making only three appearances in 2012 due to arm trouble.

The Lisle, Ill., native made his first trip of the season to SIU and won the final two games against the Salukis thanks to 2.2 perfect innings and five strikeouts out of the bullpen while also sending both contests to extra innings. Roberts notched his first win since May 1, 2010 after entering his first game of the season with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 4-4 against SIU (3/16). He recorded a strikeout on five pitches to force extra innings, where the Illini won it 7-5 in the 10th inning. He picked up a second-straight victory against SIU (3/18) after again entering the game with the bases loaded in the seventh and getting a key strikeout followed by pitching a perfect eighth and ninth inning to force extras, where the Illini won it 2-1 in the 10th inning. He followed that performance with two scoreless innings in Illinois' 8-7 walk-off win over the Cornhuskers in game one of a doubleheader and improved to 3-0 on the year.

Johnson Joins 300 IP Club: In his last start, senior Kevin Johnson passed former Illini and current pitching coach Drew Dickinson (304.2 IP) and moved into third place on the school's career innings pitched list with 305.2 IP. The senior is one of four pitchers in school history to throw 300-plus innings and only trails Mark Dressen (328.2) and Brett Weber (315.2) on the all-time list. 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. He is in his third season as Illinois' No. 1 starter and leads the staff with a 3-1 record and 2.33 ERA. The Midlothian, Ill., native has not missed a start in his career and owns the most starts on the current Illini staff with 49. His 31 strikeouts in 2013 are sixth in the Big Ten, while his 195 career strikeouts are ranked eighth on the Illini all-time list.

Roper Saves the Day: Illinois second baseman Reid Roper also serves as the Illini closer. The Harrisburg, Ill., native saved the final two games against Southern Illinois, giving him five saves in five chances for the season, which is tied for second in the Big Ten. He also picked up back-to-back saves during the Baylor series, closing out a pair of one-run victories in Waco and recorded his first save vs. New Mexico State. He was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List and has totaled eight saves in his career, which is tied for 11th in school history.

Hard to 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 fewest by an Illini starter this year. The Lansing, Ill., native has only allowed two extra-base hits in five starts and 30.1 IP. He is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA and has given up 28 hits.

Count on Krug: Since moving Will Krug into the leadoff spot in the fifth game of the season vs. Ohio, Illinois has produced a record of 13-3. Krug leads the Illini during that stretch, scoring a team-high 20 runs. The Park Ridge, Ill., native was named a Primetime Performer by College Baseball 360 after the sweep of Baylor in which he hit .538 (7-for-13) and scored five runs in Waco. He led the Illini to their first three-game road series sweep against a non-conference opponent since 2006 (South Florida, March 3-5).

Parrs Driving Illini Home: Twin brothers Justin and Jordan Parr are both back for the second-straight season and rank third (22) and fourth (19), respectively, in RBI in the Big Ten. Left-handed Justin (33-for-86) and right-handed Jordan (25-for-82) boast the top two hit totals on the team and are hitting .345 combined (58-for-168) as the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup. Jordan's three home runs are tied for second in the conference, while Justin checks in with the third-most hits with 33. Justin (.500) and Jordan (.476) are ninth and 11th, respectively, in slugging percentage in the Big Ten.

Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .321 (80-for-249) with two outs in an inning and led by sophomore David Kerian, who is 11-for-21 (.524) when faced with the situation. The Illini have 55 two-out RBI, meaning 50 percent (55-of-110) of their RBI have come with two outs. Justin Parr leads the team with 10 two-out RBI, while Jordan Parr and Thomas Lindauer each have nine. Two other players are hitting .400 with two outs: Jordan Parr 12-for-30 and Michael Hurwitz 10-for-25.