#26 Illini Host Indiana in Big Ten Series
April 2, 2009
#26 Illinois vs. Indiana // Illinois Field
Game 1 Probables
Game 2 Probables
Game 3 Probables
Illini Line Drives
Illini Off to Hot Start: Illinois has started the season 17-5, its best start since going 18-4 to begin 1989. For a list of best 22-game starts in school history, see page 4.
Streaking Illini: Illinois currently is riding its third five-game winning streak of the season, its most streaks of five or more wins since the 1999 team had two six-game win streaks and a seven-gamer.
Wikoff Wakes Up: Shortstop Brandon Wikoff is on a tear of late, hitting .409 in Illinois' last 10 games with a .523 slugging percentage, six RBIs and nine runs, raising his season average 30 points in the process. He currently holds a .378 average with a .522 slugging percentage, 13 RBIs and a team-high 23 runs.
Johnson Catches Fire: Catcher Aaron Johnson has hit a hot streak in his last 10 games, going 16-for-37 (.432) with nine RBIs to raise his average 44 points in that stretch. He's now hitting .385 with 24 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage. Johnson also is hitting .483 at home with a .690 slugging percentage.
Martin Finds Role in Relief: Senior pitcher Aaron Martin has taken to his long relief role this season after starting most of his first three years. He has a 1.02 ERA in 17 2/3 innings out of the pen this year, allowing only 11 hits with 13 strikeouts.
Down Go the Tigers!: The Fighting Illini won their series at consensus No. 1 LSU March 6-8, winning the Friday and Sunday games. It was Illinois' first win over a top-ranked team since 1995 and is believed to be the Illini's first-ever series victory over a No. 1 foe.
Pitchers Turn it Around: Illinois currently has a 4.19 staff ERA after finishing 2008 with a staff ERA of 6.44. More impressively, the Illini have a 2.22 ERA in games they have won, allowing just 37 earned runs in 17 games. Ben Reeser currently leads the staff and ranks third in the Big Ten with a 2.30 ERA, and the Illini are second as a team in the league ERA race.
Reeser Has Career Outing: Senior starter Ben Reeser had the game of a lifetime in the series finale at No. 1 LSU on March 8, taking a shutout into the ninth inning and striking out a career-high nine hitters. He earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and was named to the College Baseball Foundation National All-Star Lineup for his efforts. Reeser has lasted six or more innings in four of his five starts, and has struck out 29 hitters in 31 1/3 innings.
Argo Makes Splash: Freshman outfielder Willie Argo will always remember his collegiate debut. He became what is believed to be the second player in major-college baseball to homer three times in his collegiate debut with three dingers against No. 1 LSU on March 7. Argo homered in the second, fourth and seventh innings, and also drew a walk in the sixth. He stayed hot against Akron, hitting .583 with a homer, two doubles and six RBIs.
Johnson Showcases All-Around Game: Junior catcher Aaron Johnson was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on March 9 after hitting .500 at No. 1 LSU, including a game-winning two-run homer in the top of the ninth of the March 6 game. He also threw out 4-of-6 would-be base-stealers against an LSU team that had swiped 30 bags in nine games prior to that series, and was credited for calling an excellent series behind the plate by head coach Dan Hartleb.
Kimes Hits High Note: Freshman left-handed reliever Corey Kimes struck out the side in the eighth inning of Illinois' 3-1 win over No. 1 LSU on March 6, using just 12 pitches to retire the only three hitters he faced.
Rookie Above Parr: Freshman second baseman Josh Parr was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and to the College Baseball Foundation National All-Star Lineup after hitting .700 with five RBIs and a four-hit game at the Al Ogletree Classic. For the season, he's hitting .388 and is second on the team with 31 hits and eight stolen bases.
We're Going Streaking!: Sophomore Casey McMurray lost a career-long 17-game hitting streak in Sunday's first game against Michigan State and Junior Brandon Wikoff's 14-gamer fell by the wayside in Sunday's second game. Currently, Aaron Johnson has the longest streak on the team at 10 games.
Wikoff Won't Go Down Swinging: Shortstop Brandon Wikoff defies the cliché, as he won't go down swinging. Heading into this week, he ranked as the seventh-toughest hitter to strike out in the nation with two strikeouts in 73 at bats.
Illini Host Indiana in Weekend Series
Illinois/Indiana Series History
Last Week: Illini Sweep Spartans, Beat SIUE
After being rained out on Saturday, the Illini fought hard for a 3-2 win in Sunday's first game when Dominic Altobelli drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. He was plunked three times in the game and Josh Parr was 2-for-3 with an RBI double. Freshman Bryan Roberts allowed only two runs on seven hits in eight innings, but Nick Chmielewski got the win with a scoreless ninth inning of work. In the second game of the day, Will Strack sparkled, tossing a four-hit shutout and using only 101 pitches in his complete game. The freshman from Sycamore, Ill., induced 13 groundouts and only allowed five base runners. Altobelli went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and McMurray added a 2-for-3 effort.
Following a rainout on Tuesday, the Illini scratched and clawed their way back to grab a 7-6 win over SIUE in 10 innings on Wednesday. Willie Argo hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the 10th and Josh Parr's single to right-center brought him home for the winning run. Aaron Johnson was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Nick Chmielewski got the win with two perfect innings of relief and three strikeouts.
*Complete notes in attached PDF file