Illinois to Square Off with EIU Tuesday at Peterson Park

Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell will start for Illinois against Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night at Peterson Park.
Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell will start for Illinois against Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night at Peterson Park.

April 7, 2014

 Illinois (17-11, 5-1 Big Ten) vs. Eastern Illinois (9-22, 4-8 OVC)
 Game Time Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | 6:05 p.m.
 Location Peterson Park | Mattoon, Ill.
 Live Stats EIU Live Stats
 Live Audio ($) Online or WDWS AM-1400 (Dave Loane & Matt Wille)
 Game Notes Illinois | EIU
 Pitching Matchup ILL: Rob McDonnell (LHP, r-Jr., 2-0, 3.14 ERA)
EIU: Jaden Widdersheim (RHP, Sr., 2-1, 4.34 ERA)
 Series History Illinois leads 50-24
 Last Meeting Eastern Illinois won 8-4 (4/9/13)
 Streak Lost 1
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook

...has won five straight games and 9 of its last 10
...boasts the second-best ERA (2.80) in the Big Ten

UI vs. EIU at Peterson Park
After extending its winning streak to a season-high five games with a sweep of Northwestern, Illinois will play Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Peterson Park in Mattoon, Ill. The Illini have won nine of their last 10 games and moved six games over .500 at 17-11, their best mark thus far in 2014. The Orange and Blue are 2-0 in midweek games this year with an 8-0 victory over Indiana State (3/18) and a 6-1 win against Illinois State (3/26).

Know Your Opponent
Eastern Illinois is 9-22 and 4-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Panthers are hitting .295 as a team with 19 home runs, while their pitching staff has a 6.23 ERA. Illinois leads the all-time series 50-24 with EIU and is 2-2 in games played at Peterson Park. After last year's game in Mattoon was rained out, the Panthers won the lone meeting, 8-4, in Champaign.

Last Time Out
Illinois earned its first three-game sweep of the season by shutting out Northwestern twice and outscoring the Wildcats 20-2 at Rocky Miller Park. The Illini pummeled the NU, 13-0, in game one; used a four-run 10th inning to take game two, 6-2, in extras; and had its first 1-0 victory since 2008 in game three. Illinois' pitching staff only allowed two runs in 28 innings for a 0.64 ERA while recording 30 strikeouts and two walks. All three starters went deep into the game and the bullpen did not allow a run. Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson tossed seven scoreless innings in his opener victory, sophomore Ryan Castellanos gave up two runs in seven innings of game two and junior John Kravetz turned in a career-high eight shutout innings in the series finale. It was UI's first Big Ten sweep since downing Penn State (May 10-12) last season at home. The last time UI swept a Big Ten series on the road was at Northwestern (April 27-29) in 2012. Illinois' last 1-0 victory was Feb. 24, 2008, vs. Lamar at the Al Ogletree Classic.

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 2.05 ERA. They allowed 28 runs and a .388 average in the first three games followed by just 60 runs and a .234 average in the last 25 games. For the season, Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten with a 2.80 ERA and first with only 62 walks allowed.

Goldstein Lights Up 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 leads the Big Ten with a .462 on-base percentage and ranks third in the conference with a .382 average and sixth 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).