Illinois Travels to Indiana State for Tuesday Tussle
April 24, 2012
Illini Team Notes
Illini Win 4 of Last 5: The Orange and Blue put together a four-game win streak last week before dropping the series finale to Ohio State on Sunday. That gave Illinois its second Big Ten series victory as the Illini reached the halfway point of conference play. The pair of mid-week wins also ensured that Illinois will do no worse than split with every in-state foe this year. It's the first time since Illinois began scheduling mid-week home-and-home series with in-state opponents in 2010 that the Illini have won or split all series.
Take 2, They're Small: Despite having a pair of new starters up the middle in shortstop Thomas Lindauer and second baseman Reid Roper, Illinois leads the nation in total double plays turned (49) and ranks second in double plays per game with 1.26 (through Sunday's games). An interesting twist on the Lindauer/Roper combination is that they both are taking courses in American Sign Language and occasionally use it to communicate on the field. First baseman Jordan Parr has finished all but five of the Illini's twin killings and leads the Big Ten with 44 double plays, Lindauer ranks third in the league (33) and Roper is sixth (29).
Illini Offense Proves Consistent: Despite its recent struggles, the Illinois offense has been solid in 2012, averaging 6.4 runs and 9.9 hits per game. It has been a balanced attack, as six regular starters have 40 or more hits and four have 30 or more runs. The Illini have scored five or more runs in 23 games, while being held under five runs just 16 times. Illinois has scored two or fewer runs only five times in 2012.
Young Arms Show Promise: The Illini have been bolstered by a crew of young pitchers in 2012, as true-freshmen John Kravetz has been Illinois' No. 2 starter all season and Josh Ferry will make his sixth start against Indiana State on April 24. In addition, two sophomores and one redshirt-freshman have been solid in relief with Luke Joyce (3.42 ERA, 23.2 IP), Ronnie Muck (3.86 ERA, 21.0 IP), and Reid Roper (1.00 ERA, 9 IP as a reliever) providing solid bullpen work.
Pen Picks It Up: The Illinois bullpen has performed well lately, posting a 2.95 ERA in 15 games in April. Matt Milroy is 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings in April, and Drasen Johnson is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 12 2/3 innings of work. Ronnie Muck also has pitched well, posting a 2.45 ERA with two saves in 11 innings over eight appearances.
Leaving 'em Stranded: Three Illini relievers have shown an exceptional ability to strand inherited runners in 2012, with Drasen Johnson, Luke Joyce and Ronnie Muck taking over on the mound with 50 runners on base and allowing only 14 to score (.280). Muck has stranded 13-of-14 inherited runners, while Joyce is 11-for-17 and Johnson is 13-of-20. As a team, Illinois has stranded 65.8 percent of inherited runners (54-of-82).
Offense is Solid...Once It Gets Going: The Illini are scoring a solid 6.3 runs per game through 39 games, largely thanks to the fact that Illinois hitters have advanced runners at a .527 rate and are hitting .332 with runners in scoring position. But the Orange and Blue have run into some trouble getting innings started as they're hitting only .256 with the bases empty and reaching base when leading off an inning 33.7 percent of the time, compared to a .330 average with runners on base.
Two Down, None to Go: Illini pitchers have been highly successful with two outs in an inning, holding opponents to a .214 average in the situation. Illinois' bullpen has been even better, allowing only 29 hits in 164 at bats (.177 average) with two outs in an inning. Ronnie Muck has forced opponents into 3-for-26 (.115) hitting with two outs, Matt Milroy is 3-for-24 (.125) as a reliever, Drasen Johnson is 5-for-26 (.192), Anthony Milazzo is 3-for-15 (.200) and Reid Roper is 0-for-7 out of the pen. Conversely, the Illini are hitting .301 with two outs and have 93 two-out RBIs, 42.3 percent of their total RBIs.
Rally on Two: Illinois' two-out hitting has been such a key that it could be seen as a predictor of success. In the Illini's 22 wins, they are hitting .363 with two outs and 80 two-out RBIs. In their 17 losses, the Orange and Blue are hitting only .202 with 13 two-out RBIs.
Illini Player Notes
Argo Aims Higher: After breaking Illinois' career steals record, Argo has turned his sights to the Big Ten record book. He currently has 94 career steals, which ranks fifth in Big Ten history behind a third-place tie at 103 steals. His total marks the most career stolen bases by a Big Ten player since 1988, when Indiana's Mickey Morandini wrapped up his career with a conference-record 127 and Hoosier teammate Jeff Stout finished with 105 bags. While Morandini's record likely is out of reach, Argo could easily pass Stout for second place.
Roper Catches Fire: Redshirt-freshman Reid Roper has heated up lately, going 23-for-57 (.404) with six doubles and a triple in the last 16 games to raise his batting average 58 points. He ranks second on the team with 13 multiple-hit games with eight in the last 13 games.
Illini Visit Indiana State in Penultimate Mid-Week Game
The Sycamores are hitting a robust .307 with 29 home runs - which would rank second in the Big Ten - and 70 doubles. They have made only 44 errors in 41 games for a .974 fielding percentage and have a 3.14 team ERA. In fact, Tuesday's starter, Kyle Rupe, leads the club with a 2.06 ERA and a 5-0 record as a true-freshman.
Series History Against Indiana State