Road Series at Ohio State Up Next for Illinois
April 18, 2013
Illini to Battle OSU in Columbus
Breaking Down the Buckeyes: Ohio State has played three of the current top six Big Ten teams after four weekends of conference action. The Buckeyes swept Purdue on the road, but went 1-2 in each of the next two series against Michigan State and Minnesota. OSU is coming off a series victory in Lincoln, Neb., last weekend over the Cornhuskers. They dropped a midweek contest to Cincinnati and boast an overall record of 23-12. According to Boyd's World, they have the third-best RPI in the Big Ten at No. 40, while the Illini are fifth in the league at No. 54.
Pitching Probables: Game one of the series will feature a rematch between last year's Friday night starters, as senior Kevin Johnson (5-2, 2.52 ERA) will square off against Jaron Long (4-3, 3.53). Johnson, who is four outs away from setting the school's career innings pitched record, picked up the win in the Illini's 9-1 victory a year ago after only allowing one run over 7.2 innings. Sophomore John Kravetz (3-1, 4.72 ERA), who notched the win in last season's 8-3 game two victory with six innings and three runs, will take the ball on Saturday for the second year in a row against OSU, which will start Brad Goldberg (5-0, 2.42). Sunday's series finale will pit UI freshman Ryan Castellanos (2-0, 3.47 ERA) against Ohio State's Brian King (5-4, 2.34 ERA) live on the Big Ten Network.
Series History Against Ohio State
Illini Team Notes
Season-High Strikeouts: Four Illinois pitchers combined for a season-high 14 strikeouts and matched a season-low with three hits, as the Illini run-ruled ISU, 12-1, in eight innings (4/16). Freshman Kevin Duchene notched the most strikeouts by an Illini starter this season with a career-high seven in just 3.2 innings of work. Drasen Johnson (1), J.D. Nielsen (3) and Tyler Jay (3) combined for 4.1 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts out of the bullpen.
Offense Powers Past Purdue in Sweep: In the series sweep of Purdue, Illinois racked up 50 hits, including eight home runs, and 40 runs while hitting .420 for the weekend. The Illini twice tallied their season high of 20 hits while also scoring 17 runs in both the Friday and Sunday games. UI swept its first Big Ten series at home since 2011 when it defeated Indiana in all three games from May 19-21 to clinch a share of the Big Ten championship. They also swept Purdue for the first time since 1999. The 40 runs is the most by an Illinois team in a three-game conference series since the Big Ten switched from the four-game series format to the current three-game series format in 2009.
NCAA Rankings: In the latest NCAA rankings (4/18), Illinois sits 19th in the nation in stolen bases (72) and 23rd in average (.307). The Illini's 24 home runs are ranked 33rd, while their .432 slugging percentage is 34th. Individually, senior Justin Parr is No. 2 in the NCAA in average (.440) and No. 6 in hits (62).
Illini Dig the Long Ball: After hitting eight home runs during the Purdue sweep, Illinois is up to 24 homers on the year, which is ranked second in the Big Ten and has already surpassed its total from 2012 of 18. Junior Thomas Lindauer leads the team and the Big Ten with eight home runs this year.
Comeback Victories: The Illini have nine comeback victories on the season and six wins in their last at-bats. Their most recent game-winner came in the 6-4 victory against Purdue (4/13). Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore David Kerian tied the game with an RBI single to left, and two pitches later, redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper belted the game-winning home run to right field. Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts secured the win with a perfect ninth.
First in Steals: The Illini lead the Big Ten with 72 stolen bases in 83 attempts, which is ranked 19th in the NCAA. David Kerian ranks third in the Big Ten with 16 stolen bases, which leads the Illini. Jordan Parr is tied for sixth in the conference with 14 SBs, while Justin Parr is tied for eighth with 13. Eleven different Illini have at least one stolen base, and the Orange and Blue have been caught stealing only 11 times, which is the third fewest in the Big Ten.
Early Offense Key for Illini: The Illini are 11-3 when scoring in the first inning and 18-3 when scoring before their opponent. Illinois is outscoring its opponents 34-14 in the first frame, which is its highest-scoring inning. UI ranks second in the Big Ten with 223 runs and has outscored its opponents in all but one inning (6th, tied) on the year.
Illini Player Notes
Big Ten Honors Justin Parr: Senior Justin Parr was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time in his career, becoming the Illini's first Player of the Week honoree since Matt Dittman on May 23, 2011. Parr hit for the cycle in the series finale against Purdue, going 4-for-5 with four runs scored and four RBI in a 17-6 victory that sealed the weekend sweep of the Boilermakers. In Illinois' four games from April 8-14, Parr hit .471 (8-for-17), slugged 1.000, had an OBP of .526, scored seven runs, hit two home runs and had six RBI. During the sweep of Purdue, he hit .462 (6-for-13) with five RBI and five runs scored while slugging .923 and reaching base at a .533 clip.
Cycle on the Big Ten Network: In the series finale against Purdue (4/14) on the Big Ten Network, senior Justin Parr became the first Illini to hit for the cycle in over four years since Brandon Wikoff did so against Bradley on April 7, 2009. He had an RBI double in the first, led off the third with a home run to right field, singled up the middle in the fifth and coasted into third for a stand-up triple on a hit to the gap in right center in the eighth inning against Purdue on Sunday. He finished with a season-high four runs and four RBI in his fifth four-hit game this season.
Where Parr Ranks: Senior Justin Parr is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA and leads the Big Ten in average (.440) and No. 6 in the nation in hits (62), which leads the conference. For the season, he has the most total bases in the Big Ten with 90, is tied for the most triples with three and is second in the conference in slugging (.638), OBP (.484), RBI (36) and doubles (10). After hitting two home runs last week, he is tied for fourth in the conference in homers and is tied for third with 31 runs scored.
Lindauer Surges into Big Ten Home Run Lead: Junior Thomas Lindauer leads the Big Ten and ranks 29th in the nation with eight home runs. All eight of his career home runs have come this season and six of them have been solo shots. He belted two solo home runs during the Purdue series (4/12 & 14), one solo homer at Indiana (4/7), two on March 30 vs. Oakland (one in each game of the doubleheader) and one at Baylor (3/9, G1). His first career home run was a two-run shot vs. Houston Baptist (3/2), and he also had a three-run homer against Eastern Illinois (4/9).
Johnson Four Outs From Career IP School Record: With 327.2 career innings pitched, senior Kevin Johnson is one inning away from tying Mark Dressen for the career innings pitched school record of 328.2 innings. The Midlothian, Ill., native is in his third season as Illinois' No. 1 starter and has not missed a start in his career, giving him the most starts on the current Illini staff with 51. His 43 strikeouts in 2013 are tied for third in the Big Ten, while his 207 career strikeouts are ranked fifth on the Illini all-time list. In his last outing against Purdue (4/12), Johnson improved to 5-2 after pitching five innings and allowing five earned runs. Against No. 16 Indiana, Johnson retired 20 of the final 22 Indiana batters in his second-straight complete game (8 IP), but gave up three runs in the first two innings, which the Illini couldn't overcome in a 3-2 loss to the Hoosiers (4/5). In Illinois' 4-0 victory over Oakland (3/29), he needed just 79 pitches to earn his third career complete-game shutout in which he only allowed three hits.
Resilient Roberts on a Roll: Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts, the oldest player on the Illini, has three wins and three saves in eight appearances on the season thanks to allowing zero earned runs in 12 innings pitched. He notched UI's first Big Ten win this season against Nebraska and picked up back-to-back wins at Southern Illinois, marking his first victories in nearly three years after redshirting the 2011 season following Tommy John surgery and making only three appearances in 2012 due to arm trouble. He also collected his first save since May 8, 2010, after 1.2 scoreless innings vs. Oakland (3/30), posted his second save with another 1.2 scoreless innings at Indiana (4/7) and earned his third save vs. Purdue (4/13), giving him 12 career saves, which ranks sixth in school history.
Castellanos Wins First Two Collegiate Starts: Freshman Ryan Castellanos won his first two collegiate starts at Indiana (4/7) and vs. Purdue (4/14) after taking over the No. 3 spot in the rotation for the Illini. The Davie, Fla., native snapped No. 16 Indiana's NCAA-best 18-game winning streak at the time and pitched six solid innings with only two earned runs against the Hoosiers while scattering five hits and allowing zero walks. He improved to 2-0 after six solid innings and four earned runs against the Boilermakers. He has compiled a 3.47 ERA in 23.1 IP and made six appearances out of the bullpen before his first two starts.
Hard to Hit Kravetz: Sophomore John Kravetz carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning vs. Oakland (3/30) and tallied his third win after allowing three hits and two runs in 7.1 innings of work. He picked up his second win of the year in the second game of the doubleheader at Baylor, where he equaled a career high with eight innings pitched and allowed only one run and three hits, which is tied for the fewest by an Illini starter this year. The Lansing, Ill., native has only allowed six extra-base hits in seven starts and 47.2 IP. He is ranked 11th in the Big Ten in opponent batting average (.239) and hits allowed (42).
Freshmen in the Rotation: Three freshmen pitchers, left-hander Kevin Duchene and right-handers Nick Blackburn and Ryan Castellanos, have been in the weekend rotation and combined for a 10-2 record in 26 total appearances, including 14 starts. Current Sunday starter Castellanos (2-0) won his first two career starts at Indiana (4/7) and vs. Purdue (4/14). Duchene (6-1) is tied for first in the Big Ten in wins after picking up victories out of the bullpen vs. Purdue (4/13) and Missouri at Busch Stadium (4/2) and in starts at Illinois State (4/16) and vs. Oakland (3/30, game 1), Ohio (2/22) and Houston Baptist (3/1). Blackburn (2-1) has notched wins over Boston College (2/24) and HBU (3/2), while suffering his only loss vs. Oakland (3/31).
Roper Goes Deep Three Times: Illinois second baseman Reid Roper hit a home run in each game during the sweep of Purdue, finishing the series 7-for-14 (.500) with three home runs, five runs & eight RBI while slugging 1.214. Before homering in the Purdue series opener (4/12), Roper hadn't homered since his first game as an Illini on Feb. 17, 2012. He belted the game-winning home run with a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth in the 6-4 win over Purdue (4/13). He also went 3-for-5 with a homer and a career-high four RBI in the series finale vs. Purdue (4/14). He is tied for the most home runs during Big Ten games with three.
Goldstein Hitting Streak: Freshman Jason Goldstein is on a career-high 10-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .441 (15-for-34). He twice turned in a career-high three hits at Indiana (4/7) and vs. Purdue (4/12) during that stretch. He tallied his first career triple at Indiana (4/5) and hit his first career double vs. Missouri (4/2) at Busch Stadium.
Kerian Dominates against Purdue: Sophomore David Kerian's career-best performance came vs. Purdue (4/12), where he went 4-for-4 with an inside-the-park home run for his first career home run and tallied a career-high three runs and six RBI, which is the most by an Illini this season. The Dakota Dunes, S.D., native finished 8-for-12 (.667) with nine RBI, five runs, two doubles and one home run during the sweep of Purdue while also slugging 1.083 and reaching base at a .733 clip. For the season, he ranks first on the Illini and third in the Big Ten in steals (16) and second on the Illini and sixth in the Big Ten in both average (.375) and on-base percentage (.446).
Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .313 (125-for-399) with two outs in an inning and has a pair of players hitting over .400 when faced with the situation in sophomore David Kerian (.500, 18-for-36) and senior Justin Parr (22-for-55, .400). The Illini have 78 total two-out RBI, with four players in double figures - Justin Parr and sophomore Michael Hurwitz (12), junior Thomas Lindauer (11) and sophomore David Kerian (10).