April 1, 2014
...is playing at Busch Stadium for the 4th time in 5 years
...won for the first time at Busch Stadium in 2013
...is 2-2 in neutral site games in 2014
...went 7-2 during its nine-game homestand
...has allowed the fewest walks (60) in the Big Ten
...boasts the second-best ERA (3.07) in the Big Ten
Braggin' Rights at Busch
After wrapping up its nine-game homestand with a 7-2 record, the Illinois baseball team will hit the road for the first time since March 15. Illinois will head to St. Louis, Mo., to face Missouri on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. 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 five years.
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.
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.
Know Your Opponent
Missouri will face Southern Illinois on Tuesday night in O'Fallon, Mo., before squaring off with Illinois on Wednesday. Mizzou leads the all-time series with Illinois, 12-11-1, but the Illini won the last meeting a year ago. In 2014, the Tigers are 13-13 and coming off a series victory at Auburn over the weekend. Outfielder Eric Anderson paces the offense with a .338 average, while the team is hitting .260 overall and scoring 4.3 runs per game. The pitching staff boasts a 3.66 ERA and will send junior righty Alec Rash (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the hill for his first start of the season. Junior John Kravetz (2-1, 4.07 ERA) will take the ball for the Illini.
Last Time Out
Illinois took two out of three from Purdue to win its first Big Ten series of the season. The Illini nearly completed a ninth-inning comeback but fell 4-3 in the opener. The Orange and Blue bounced back with a 6-2 victory behind a complete game from sophomore Ryan Castellanos and used early scoring to capture the finale 8-3. Sophomore Adam Walton (.545) and junior Will Krug (.500) each shined offensively on the weekend, while the pitching staff only allowed nine runs and turned in a 2.67 ERA.
Castellanos Finds the Zone
Sophomore Ryan Castellanos has not allowed a walk in his four starts (27 IP) this season and leads the nation with a 0.0 walks allowed per nine innings. The Davie, Fla., native improved to 3-1 following his first career complete game against Purdue (3/29) and lowered his ERA to 3.33.
Walton Heats Up at Home
After starting the season 0-for-20, sophomore Adam Walton is leading the Illini with a .542 average (13-for-24) over the past seven games, which were all at Illinois Field. The Illini shortstop is on a career-high seven-game hitting streak and has increased his season average to .295.
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 third in the Big Ten with a .383 average and a .457 on-base percentage and 10th with a .481 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 19 of 22 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 2.25 ERA. They allowed 28 runs and a .388 average in the first three games followed by just 58 runs and a .244 average in the last 22 games. For the season, Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.07 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 (60) in the Big Ten and ranks 14th in the NCAA with 2.43 walks allowed per nine innings. The Illini defense has committed the fourth-fewest errors (28) in the conference and is tied for fourth in fielding percentage (.971) among Big Ten teams.
Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 14 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .325 and have a 2.15 ERA, while in their 11 losses, they are batting .209 and have a 4.37 ERA.