Illini Host League-Leading Spartans for Series
April 21, 2011
Michigan State at Illinois
Game 1 Starters
Game 2 Starters
Game 3 Starters
Illini Line Drives
Bullpen Bolsters Illini: Despite a recent offensive cool-down, the Illini bullpen has been extremely stingy in the last six games. Seven pitchers have combined to allow only six run in 17 innings of relief, a 3.18 ERA. Will Strack, Wes Braun, Luke Joyce and Ronnie Muck all have at least one scoreless inning, while Chris Pack has allowed only one run in four innings over three appearances.
Streaking Through 2011: The Fighting Illini have had four losing streaks of three games or more this year and one five-game winning streak. Illinois lost five straight games from Feb. 27-March 11, four straight from April 2-6 and three in a row from March 13-18 and April 17-present. The Illini put together a five-game winning streak from March 19-April 1.
Justin Playing Above Parr: Justin Parr has thrived after being reinserted into the starting lineup at designated hitter against Illinois State on March 30, hitting a blistering .472 (25-for-53) in the last 15 games with four doubles, a triple, six RBIs and nine runs. He hit ninth in the order at Penn State but was moved up to the No. 7 spot at Bradley on April 5, hit sixth on April 6 and has hit second in Illinois' last nine games.
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 been extremely solid over the last 19 games, going 26-for-70 (.371) with six doubles, a triple, four home runs, 21 RBIs and eight runs while making only two errors.
Pack Pours it On: Senior reliever Chris Pack has been exceptional of late, allowing only one run in 8 1/3 innings over five appearances, allowing only seven base runners while striking out eight. He has lowered his ERA by 2.07 and brought his WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched) down to 1.55, fourth-best on the team.
Johnson A Real Ace: Illinois sophomore Kevin Johnson has shown the ability to take on the role of staff ace so far, posting a 3.34 ERA while going 2-3 in eight starts. He has a team-best 1.33 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) and 70.9 percent of his outs from contact have come on ground balls. He also has turned into a strikeout pitcher, fanning 11 against Northern Illinois and eight at Michigan, and ranking fifth in the Big Ten in strikeouts. Johnson has been given only 32 runs of support, with 19 of those runs coming in starts against Florida Gulf Coast, Central Michigan and Michigan.
Hits Hard to Come by Against Illini: Kevin Johnson and John Anderson, the first two pitchers in Illinois' weekend rotation, have allowed only 101 hits in 110 innings of work, less than one hit per inning. Additionally, closer Wes Braun has given up only six hits in 11 1/3 innings and Will Strack has allowed only 24 hits in 27 innings.
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 .249 batting average with two outs. Kevin Johnson has a .263 average with two outs, John Anderson has a .245 mark and Corey Kimes has posted a .229 average.
Relievers Regularly Rock Opponents: Four Illini relievers have posted ERAs under 4.00 thus far, with fifth-year senior Wes Braun notching a perfect 0.00 mark, junior Will Strack holding a team-best 3.00 ERA (among regular pitchers), including a 3.63 mark as a reliever, freshman Luke Joyce at 3.27 and No. 1 starter Kevin Johnson sitting at 3.34.
Illini Host Michigan State This Weekend
Series History Against Michigan State
*Complete series notes available in the above PDF