Illini Host Penn State to Start Big Ten Play
April 1, 2010
Penn State at Illinois
Game 1 Probables
Game 2 Probables
Game 3 Probables
Illini Line Drives
Dittman Dominates Early Foes: Junior first baseman Matt Dittman started the season with a 3-for-4 effort and hasn't let up on opposing pitching, hitting at a .500 clip through 16 games. He currently leads the Big Ten in average and on-base percentage (.617) and ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.705). In the NCAA statistical rankings released on March 29, his .500 average ranked third in the country and his .617 on-base percentage is second.
Argo Catches Fire: Sophomore center fielder Willie Argo has hit a hot streak lately, raising his batting average 195 points after starting the year 4-for-19 (.211). Since March 12, Argo has gone 22-for-45 (.489) with 10 RBIs, 14 runs, four doubles, a triple, a home run and 10-for-10 stolen bases. Argo now ranks third on the team and seventh in the Big Ten with his .406 average.
Hohl Heats Up: Freshman third baseman Brandon Hohl began to heat up on Spring Trip, going 9-for-15 (.600) over Illinois' last four games of the trip with six RBIs, four runs and three doubles. Hohl has been clutch this season as well, hitting a team-best .423 and driving in eight runs with two outs. Hohl's 18 RBIs rank second on the team and he leads the team with seven multiple-RBI games.
Zerrusen Shifts Gears: Junior pitcher Lee Zerrusen entered the year as Illinois' closer, but after four appearances out of the pen, he moved into a starter role and has flourished. Zerrusen pitched seven innings against Ball State on March 14, allowing three runs and striking out four, then only gave up one run in seven innings against North Dakota State on March 20, striking out a career-high six. He earned wins in both starts and lowered his ERA from 6.23 to 3.44.
Sterk Stymies Opposing Sticks: Senior reliever Mike Sterk has been excellent so far this season, leading the Illini with a 3-0 record and a team-best 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. He has posted five scoreless outings in his seven appearances and earned two wins on Spring Trip - in Illinois' 7-6 win over Akron and its 4-3 win over Dartmouth. He also earned the win in the Illini's 11-10 win over No. 12 Coastal Carolina on March 12.
Illini Open Big Ten Slate Against Penn State
The Nittany Lions have been similar to the Fighting Illini early in the year in that both have been inconsistent. Penn State won four of its first five games, including a pair of extra-inning contests at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. But the Lions lost their next seven games over their Spring Trip to Texas. After a pair of wins against Kent State and Columbia, PSU lost four in a row before winning the final three games of a four-game series against Hofstra last weekend and splitting a pair with Kent State this week to reach their 10-13 record. The Lions only have two regulars with batting averages over .300 in first baseman Joey DeBernardis (.365) and catcher/DH Ben Heath (.348), and they're hitting .280 as a team. PSU also carries a team ERA of 6.55 into the weekend.
Illinois Against the Nittany Lions
This Week: Illini Split with Redbirds, Cougars
On Wednesday, the Illini scored nine runs in the first two innings and cruised from there to blast Chicago State, 18-2. Freshman Matt Milroy only gave up one run in a five-inning start to capture his first collegiate victory, and the Illini got scoreless innings of relief from Kevin Manson, Corey Kimes and Bryan Roberts. Aaron Johnson went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBIs, and redshirt-freshman Doug Schumacher homered in his first collegiate at bat. McMurray also went 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and three runs.
*Complete series notes in the above PDF.