Trip to Happy Valley Up Next for Illinois

Sophomore Adam takes his career-long 14-game hitting streak into Happy Valley this weekend for Illinois' series at Penn State.
Sophomore Adam takes his career-long 14-game hitting streak into Happy Valley this weekend for Illinois' series at Penn State.

April 17, 2014

 Illinois (18-14, 6-3 Big Ten) at Penn State (17-16, 5-3 Big Ten)
 Game 1 Friday, April 18, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. CT
 Game 2 Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 1 p.m. CT
 Game 3 Sunday, April 20, 2014 | 11 a.m. (Big Ten Network)
 Location Medlar Field at Lubrano Park | State College, Pa.
 Mobile Live Stats Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM 1400 (Dave Loane and Matt Wille)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Sunday TV BTN: Watch on BTN2Go (Eric Collins & Jack Dahm)
 Game Notes Illinois | Penn State
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Drasen Johnson (RHP, r-Jr., 4-4, 2.40 ERA)
PSU: Tim Dunn (LHP, Sr., 2-0, 1.50 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, Jr., 3-1, 3.05 ERA)
PSU: T.J. Jann (RHP, r-Jr., 1-5, 3.78 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, So., 3-2, 4.41 ERA)
 Series History Tied, 28-28
 Games at PSU Penn State leads 15-11
 Last Season Illinois swept series, 3-0
 Streak W3
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | Jason Goldstein | John Kravetz

...sits third in the Big Ten standings at 6-3
...swept Penn State last season in Champaign
...unveiled its Nike rebrand this week 14-4 when outhitting its opponent 13-6 when scoring first

Illinois Heads to Happy Valley
Illinois will head to State College, Pa., for a three-game series with Penn State this weekend (April 18-20). Friday's first pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT followed by a 1 p.m. CT Saturday start and an 11 a.m. start on Sunday, which will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. The Illini sit third in the Big Ten at 6-3, while the Nittany Lions are right behind them at fourth in the standings at 5-3.

Know Your Opponent
Penn State enters this weekend with a 17-16 overall record. The Nittany Lions began Big Ten play 4-0 but have dropped three of their last four games. PSU is 5-3 in conference play after going 2-0 against Northwestern, 2-1 at Purdue and 1-2 at Ohio State. Penn State is hitting .267 overall, led by Steve Snider, who ranks third in the Big Ten at .374. PSU's pitching staff boasts a 4.15 ERA along with the second-fewest walks (91) in the Big Ten behind only Illinois (73). The all-time series between the two teams in tied, 28-28. Illinois swept the 2013 series in Champaign, while Penn State took all three games the last time the two teams met in Happy Valley in 2012.

Last Time Out
Illinois committed a pair of costly errors and fell 6-2 to Illinois State at Duffy Bass Field. The Redbirds scored six runs in the first two innings, but only one run was earned. Sophomores Jason Goldstein and Adam Walton each went 3-for-5, as the Orange and Blue outhit ISU 10-8.

While They Were Streaking
Following an 8-10 start, Illinois won 10 of its next 11 games and improved to its best record of the year at 18-11 following its season-long six-game winning streak from March 29-April 11. Since then, Illinois has dropped its last three games, tying its longest losing streak this year.

Walton Extends Streak to 14
After starting the season 0-for-20, sophomore Adam Walton is on a career-high 14-game hitting streak and leading Illinois with a .440 average (22-of-50) during that stretch. His streak is the longest by an Illini this season and longest since shortstop Thomas Lindauer ended last season on an 18-game streak. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native is hitting .314 with a .357 slugging and .386 OBP and ranks second on the Illini with seven stolen bases.

Best Big Ten Start under Hartleb
Illinois started Big Ten play 6-1, marking the best start in nine years under head coach Dan Hartleb and the top Illini start since beginning 7-0 in 2005. UI's previous best start during Hartleb's tenure was in 2008 when they began conference action with a 5-2 record. The Illini's current 6-3 mark equals the best start through nine games under Hartleb, which was done in both 2008 and 2009.

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 six 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 262-213 (9 seasons: 2006-present)

Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 18 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .312 and have a 1.78 ERA, while in their 14 losses, they are batting .235 and have a 5.01 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 2.50 ERA. They allowed 28 runs and a .388 average in the first three games followed by just 72 runs and a .249 average in the last 29 games. In the latest NCAA stat rankings, Illinois ranked sixth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.2), 12th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.0) and 52nd in ERA (3.12), which is the third-best earned run average in the Big Ten. The Illini have allowed 18 fewer walks than any other Big Ten team, ranking first in the category at 73, with Penn State in second at 91.

Consecutive 1-0 Shutouts
Illinois pitched back-to-back 1-0 shutouts (at Northwestern, 4/6 and vs. Michigan, 4/11) for the first time since May 16, 1969, which was part of a doubleheader against Michigan State and the only other time it has been done.

Goldstein Lights Up Midweek
Sophomore catcher Jason Goldstein has dominated during Illinois' three midweek games, going 10-for-12 (.833) with five runs, a homer, six RBI and two walks. The Highland Park, Ill., native hit his first collegiate home run as part of a 3-for-3 day against Indiana State (3/18), went a career-best 4-for-4 against Illinois State (3/26) and finished 3-for-5 with two doubles at Illinois State (4/15). Overall, he ranks second in the Big Ten in average (.377), sixth in on-base percentage (.452) and 10th in slugging percentage (.472), which leads the Illini in each category, which leads the Illini in each category.

Johnson Not Getting Support
Friday's starter Drasen Johnson has made a smooth transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2014, but has not been getting much run support. After only scoring 15 runs in his first seven starts, Illinois put up a season-high eight runs for Johnson against Northwestern (4/4) but only one run against Michigan (4/11). The Illini have scored 24 runs of support in his nine starts, which is still the lowest average among regular starters at 2.7. The Chillicothe, Ill., native is 4-4 with a 2.40 ERA (7th in Big Ten) and a team-high 44 strikeouts (3rd in Big Ten).

Kravetz Wins Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
Saturday's starter John Kravetz was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career on April 7. 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. 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.

Castellanos Finds the Zone
Sunday's starter Ryan Castellanos has not allowed a walk in his six starts (34.2 IP) this season and leads the nation with 0.0 walks allowed per nine innings. The Davie, Fla., native is 3-2 with a 4.41 ERA this year.

Krug's A Hitting Machine
Junior Will Krug has sparked the Illini offense in the leadoff spot and has showcased his speed when he gets on base. He is tied for second in the Big Ten in hits (47) and ranks fourth in stolen bases (13). The Park Ridge, Ill., native has a team-high 16 multi-hit games and ranks second on the Illini with a .331 average. Krug has picked up where he left off last year, where he hit .305 in 25 games before missing the second half of the season due to an arm injury.