Willie Argo, a native of Davenport, Iowa, and his Illini teammates will host the Iowa Hawkeyes this weekend.
April 7, 2011
Iowa at Illinois
Illinois Field // Champaign, Ill.
April 8 // 6:05 pm // FightingIllini.com
April 9 // 6:05 pm // Big Ten Network
April 10 // 1:05 pm // BigTenNetwork.com
Iowa (11-15, 1-2) at Illinois (9-14, 1-2)
Television: Saturday - Big Ten Network (live)
Live Video: Friday - FightingIllini.com; Sunday - BigTenNetwork.com
Radio: WDWS AM-1400 (PBP: Dave Loane; Color: Brian Barnhart [Fri], Itch Jones [Sat], Scott Beatty [Sun])
Live Audio: Available on fightingillini.com
Live Stats: Gametracker on fightingillini.com
Series: Illinois leads 123-79-2
Games in Champaign: Illinois leads 66-35-1
Last Year: Iowa won series
Game 1 Starters
Illinois: Kevin Johnson (RHP, 1-3, 3.56 ERA)
Iowa: Jarred Hippen (LHP, 1-3, 3.51 ERA)
Game 2 Starters
Illinois: John Anderson (RHP, 3-2, 3.41 ERA)
Iowa: Nick Brown (RHP, 3-2, 2.85 ERA)
Game 3 Starters
Illinois: Corey Kimes (RHP, 1-3, 6.67 ERA)
Iowa: Matt Dermody (RHP, 2-3, 5.89 ERA)
...8-2 when out-hitting its opponent
...7-1 when tied or ahead after the 7th inning
...6-3 when allowing 4 or fewer runs
...9-5 when making 0 or 1 error
Illini Line Drives
Weather, Bats Warm Up for Illini...: With warmer temperatures finally reaching the heartland this week, the Illini bats also have warmed up. Illinois hit .359 as a team in a pair of mid-week games against Bradley and Benedictine-Springfield, rapping out 28 hits but scoring only 10 runs. Five hitters who started both games have hit better than .400 and the Illini have five extra-base hits.
...But Bullpen, Defense Cool Off: While the bats have heated up, Illinois' relief pitching and defense have both cooled a bit this week. In two mid-week contests, the bullpen has allowed a 9.00 ERA and the Illini have committed five errors while both opponents played flawless defense. The relievers also have walked seven hitters and thrown six wild pitches in those two games.
Hits Coming Fast and Furious: Illinois has been pounding out the hits lately, averaging 11.7 hits per game in its last 10 contests. The Illini have averaged 7.2 runs per game in that span as well. The Orange and Blue have recorded double-digit hits seven times and scored over six runs seven times in the last 10 games.
Illinois Looks to Snap Skid: The Fighting Illini lost thier five-game winning streak at Penn State and have followed it with a four-game skid after losing the final two games to the Nittany Lions and dropping mid-week contests to Bradley and Benedictine-Springfield.
Justin Playing Above Parr: Justin Parr has thrived after being reinserted into the starting lineup at designated hitter in the first game at Penn State, hitting a blistering .500 (9-for-18) in the last five games with four doubles, three RBIs and three runs. He hit ninth in the order at Penn State but was moved up to the No. 7 spot at Bradley on Tuesday and hit sixth on Wednesday.
Hohl Does it All: Third baseman Brandon Hohl, who saw his batting average dip to .256 after the game against Northern Illinois on March 17, has responded by hitting 12-for-27 (.444) over the last seven games with three doubles, a triple, six RBIs and two runs while playing flawless - and often sparkling - defense. He hasn't made an error since the March 12 game at Western Kentucky, a string of 12 games.
Starters Hold Opponents with 2 Outs: The Illini's three weekend starters have excelled once they've recorded two outs this year. In 2011, Illinois' weekend rotation has held opponents to a .221 batting average with two outs. Kevin Johnson has a .281 average with two outs, John Anderson has a .121 mark and Corey Kimes has posted a .219 average.
Relievers Regularly Rock Opponents: Two Illini relievers have posted ERAs under 4.00 thus far, with fifth-year senior Wes Braun notching a perfect 0.00 mark and junior Will Strack holding a team-best 3.13 ERA, including a 3.60 mark as a reliever.
Defense Makes the Difference: The Orange and Blue have shown that defense is the key to their success this season, as Illinois is 9-5 when making zero or one error and 0-9 when making two or more errors.
Johnson A Real Ace: Illinois sophomore Kevin Johnson has shown the ability to take on the role of staff ace so far, posting a 3.56 ERA while going 1-3 in seven starts. He has a solid 1.42 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) and 69 percent of his outs from contact have come on ground balls. He pitched seven scoreless innings against Central Michigan but received a no-decision, dropped a 3-1 game at Western Kentucky and lost a 3-0 contest despite striking out 11 against Northern Illinois. He has been given only 21 runs of support, with 10 of those runs coming in starts against Florida Gulf Coast and Central Michigan.
Parr Starts Strong in 2011: Shortstop Josh Parr, who started 2010 by hitting 13-for-66 (.197) in the first 17 games, has opened the 2011 season much stronger. He's hitting .314 (32-for-107) with 16 RBIs, is 10-for-12 stealing bases and has made only four errors in the field. Last year, he made 14 errors in Illinois' first 21 games.
Hits Hard to Come by Against Illini: Kevin Johnson and John Anderson, the first two pitchers in Illinois' weekend rotation, have allowed only 72 hits in 77 1/3 innings of work, less than one hit per inning. Additionally, closer Wes Braun has given up only three hits in 7 1/3 innings and Will Strack has allowed only 19 hits in 23 innings.
Illini Host Iowa in First Home Big Ten Series
The Orange and Blue host Iowa in their first home Big Ten series of 2011, trying to snap a four-game losing streak. Illinois had won five straight games before dropping the final two games at Penn State and mid-week games to Bradley and Benedictine-Springfield to fall to 9-14 on the year. Iowa comes to Champaign winners of its last two games after a four-game skid from March 29-April 2. The Hawkeyes are 11-15 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten after losing their Big Ten-opening series to Michigan State last weekend in Iowa City.
Series History Against Iowa
Illinois leads the all-time series against the Hawkeyes 123-79-2, including a 66-35-1 margin in games played in Champaign. Illini head coach Dan Hartleb is 7-6 against Iowa, taking three of four games in 2006 before dropping three of four at Iowa in 2007. Illinois then won the season-opener against the Hawkeyes in 2009 and dropped a series in Iowa City in 2010. The two teams have played an even series since 2000, with Iowa holding a 19-18 advantage in the series. Illinois won series in 2000 and 2006, Iowa took series in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010, and the teams split series in 2001, 2003 and 2004. The Illini earned wins in the 2007 Big Ten Tournament and the 2009 season-opener at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.
This Weekend's Promotions
Illini fans will be able to enjoy great promotions during the Iowa series, with many of them built around the Mom's Weekend happening on the Illinois campus. There will be a number of mom-themed activities during games, plus fans can play baseball bingo on Friday. Freshman class baseball cards also will be available while supplies last and fans can still pick up season schedule magnets and schedule cards.
*Complete series notes in the above PDF