Illinois to Host Michigan for Series at Illinois Field

Sophomore Jason Goldstein and the Illini are 5-1 in Big Ten play heading into a weekend series with Michigan at Illinois Field.
Sophomore Jason Goldstein and the Illini are 5-1 in Big Ten play heading into a weekend series with Michigan at Illinois Field.

April 10, 2014

 Illinois (17-11, 5-1 Big Ten) vs. Michigan (14-18-1, 4-5 Big Ten)
 Game 1 Friday, April 11, 2014 | 6 p.m.
 Game 2 Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 3 p.m.
 Game 3 Sunday, April 13, 2014 | 1 p.m.
 Location Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.
 Mobile Live Stats Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM 1400 - Dave Loane and Brian Moline (Fri. & Sat.), Loren Tate (Sun.)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Video ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Game Notes Illinois | Michigan
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Drasen Johnson (RHP, r-Jr., 3-4, 2.74 ERA)
MICH: Evan Hill (LHP, So., 2-3, 3.64 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, So., 3-1, 3.18 ERA)
MICH: Trent Szkutnik (LHP, Jr., 0-4, 2.83 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, Jr., 3-1, 3.06 ERA)
 Series History Michigan leads 136-102-2
 Games in CU Michigan leads 64-53-2
 Last Series Michigan won series, 2-1, in 2011 (Ann Arbor)
 Last Meeting Illinois won 3-2 in Big Ten Tournament (5/23/13)
 Streak W1
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | John Kravetz | Will Krug

...has won five straight games and 9 of its last 10 off to its best Big Ten start (5-1) under coach Hartleb
...knocked Michigan out of the 2013 Big Ten Tournament
...boasts the second-best ERA (2.80) in the Big Ten
...will host As Seen on TV Night (Friday), Country Day (Saturday) and Kid's Day (Sunday) this weekend

Illinois Welcomes Michigan
Illinois (17-11), which is on a season-long five-game winning streak, will welcome Michigan to Illinois Field this weekend for a three-game series on April 11-13. The Illini are off to their best start to Big Ten play (5-1) under head coach Dan Hartleb, marking their best start since starting 7-0 in 2005. The Orange and Blue, which had their midweek game against Eastern Illinois canceled, have won nine of their last 10 games.

This Weekend's Promotions
Several exciting promotions are planned for this weekend, beginning with an Inclusive Illinois Tailgate before Friday's game at 5 p.m. The series opener at 6 p.m. also will feature As Seen on TV Night, where "As Seen on TV" products will be given out as prizes. Country Day will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m., with country-themed giveaways and Mayor Don Gerard throwing out the first pitch. Sunday's 1 p.m contest will be Kid's Club Day, with a behind-the-scenes tour of Illinois Field for Kids Club members. The first set of Illinois baseball cards also will be given away this weekend. Select players will be available for post-game autographs on Friday and kids can play wiffle ball on the field following Sunday's game.

Know Your Opponent
After dropping its midweek game, 9-1, at Notre Dame, Michigan enters this weekend at 14-18-1 overall. The Wolverines are seventh in the Big Ten at 4-5 following three series in which they went 1-2 at Indiana and vs. Minnesota and 2-1 against Iowa. Michigan is ninth in the conference with a .240 average but tied for second with 47 stolen bases. Center fielder Jackson Glines leads the team in average (.317), hits (38), runs (23), doubles (10) and RBI (20). The pitching staff ranks leads the Big Ten with 247 strikeouts, is second with a .251 opposing batting average and sits fourth with a 3.43 ERA.

Series History with Michigan
Illinois won the last meeting with Michigan, knocking the Wolverines out of the 2013 Big Ten Tournament with a 3-2 victory at Target Field in Minneapolis. It was the first time the two teams met since 2011 when Michigan won the series, 2-1, in Ann Arbor. UM leads the all-time series 136-102-2 and holds a 64-53-2 advantage in games at Illinois. The Illini last won a series against Michigan in 2009 and are 5-5 against the Maize and Blue in the last 10 meetings.

Match-Ups on the Mound
Illinois will use the same rotation as it did against Northwestern, with ace Kevin Duchene still sidelined by a forearm strain. Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson (3-4, 2.74 ERA) will toe the rubber against sophomore lefty Evan Hill (2-3, 3.64) on Friday night. Saturday will feature sophomore Ryan Castellanos (3-1, 3.18 ERA) against another lefty in junior Trent Szkutnik (0-4, 2.83 ERA). Illinois will start reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week John Kravetz (3-1, 3.06 ERA) on Sunday, while the Michigan starter is TBA. Kravetz earned the win against Michigan last year in the Big Ten Tournament with a career-high seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings.

Hartleb Fifth on All-Time Wins List
Ninth-year head coach Dan Hartleb is coming off his most wins in a season at Illinois with 35 victories in 2013. Hartleb has taken Illinois to an NCAA Regional in two of the last three seasons and ranks fifth in school history in all-time wins. He is closing in on the No. 4 spot, just seven wins shy of Tom Dedin. The top-five winningest coaches in school history are listed below:

1. Lee Eilbracht 518-395-6 (27 seasons: 1952-78)
2. Itch Jones 474-373-1 (15 seasons: 1991-05)
3. George Huff 314-97-4 (23 seasons: 1896-19)
4. Tom Dedin 268-234-6 (9 seasons: 1979-87)
5. Dan Hartleb 261-210 (9 seasons: 2006-present)

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.

Hitting Their Stride
Following an 8-10 start, Illinois has won nine of its last 10 games, marking its best stretch since winning 12 of 13 games last season. The Illini are on a season-long five-game winning streak in which they have only allowed seven runs. The Illini are 5-1 in their first six Big Ten games, marking their best start since starting 7-0 in 2005.

Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 17 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .313 and have a 1.88 ERA, while in their 11 losses, they are batting .209 and have a 4.37 ERA.

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. In the latest NCAA stat rankings, Illinois ranked seventh in walks allowed per nine innings (2.23), 11th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.05) and 29th in ERA (2.80), which is the second-best earned run average in the Big Ten. The Illini have allowed 19 fewer walks than any other Big Ten team, ranking first in the category at 62, with Penn State in second at 81.

Kravetz Wins Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
Junior John Kravetz was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career, announced the conference office Tuesday. Kravetz tossed a career-high eight scoreless innings, equaled a career-high seven strikeouts and did not issue a walk in Illinois' 1-0 victory that completed the sweep at Northwestern on Sunday. Kravetz led the Illini to their first 1-0 victory since Feb. 24, 2008, against Lamar at the Al Ogletree Classic. The Lansing, Ill., native scattered four hits against the Wildcats and improved to 3-1 on the season. He becomes the second Illini honored with the award this season, joining sophomore Kevin Duchene (March 3). College Sports Madness also named Kravetz its Big Ten Player of the Week for his performance in Evanston.

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 ranks second in the Big Ten with a .462 on-base percentage, third in the conference with a .382 average and eighth 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).

Walton Extends Streak to 10
After starting the season 0-for-20, sophomore Adam Walton is on a career-best 10-game hitting streak and leading Illinois with a .471 (16-of-34) average over the past 10 games. His streak is tied for the longest this year, tying the mark by Jason Goldstein. Walton is hitting .296 with a .352 slugging percentage and .394 on-base percentage.

Castellanos Finds the Zone
Sophomore Ryan Castellanos has not allowed a walk in his five starts (34 IP) this season and leads the nation with 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 3.18 following a no decision at Northwestern (4/5).

Johnson Not Getting Support
Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson has made a smooth transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2014, but was not getting much run support until his last start. After only scoring 15 runs in his first seven starts, Illinois put up a season-high eight runs for Johnson against Northwestern (4/4). The Illini have scored 23 runs of support in his eight starts, which is still the lowest average on the team at 2.9. The Chillicothe, Ill., native is 3-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 49.1 IP.

Roper Repeats Home Run History
Redshirt-junior Reid Roper belted the first Illini home run of the season with a two-out, two-run bomb in the sixth inning of the season opener at Georgia State. The Harrisburg, Ill., native hit his second career Opening Day home run, as he also homered in his first career game as an Illini against Notre Dame on Feb. 17, 2012. The UI infielder also went deep against Xavier (3/21) and Northwestern (4/4), giving him a career-high four home runs. Roper has the most career home runs on the Illini roster, as he belted one homer in 2012 and a three in 2013.