Illinois Travels to Indiana State for Tuesday Tussle

Josh Ferry is 3-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in non-conference games this year. He'll start Tuesday's game at Indiana State.
Josh Ferry is 3-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in non-conference games this year. He'll start Tuesday's game at Indiana State.

April 24, 2012

 Illinois (22-17) at Indiana State (31-10)
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Date Tuesday, April 24, 2012
 Time 5 p.m. CT
 Location Bob Warn Field | Terre Haute, Ind.
 Radio WDWS AM-1400 (Dave Loane & Ben Taylor)
 Live Video Watch
 Live Audio Illinois | Indiana State
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Game Notes Illinois | Indiana State
 Pitching Matchup ILL: Josh Ferry (RHP, Fr., 3-1, 6.49 ERA)
ISU: Kyle Rupe (RHP, Fr., 5-0, 2.06 ERA)
 Series History Illinois leads 35-33-2
 Last Meeting Illinois won 7-6 (3/25/11)
 Streak Won 1

Illinois Is...
...1st in the nation in double plays turned (49)
...2nd in the nation in double plays turned per game (1.26)
...averaging 6.4 runs per game
...averaging 9.9 hits per game
...18th in the nation in triples per game (0.44) (as of 4/23)
...29th in the nation in steals per game (1.62) (as of 4/23)
...20-3 when scoring 5 or more runs
...17-5 when allowing 4 or fewer runs
...14-3 when scoring first
...11-5 when scoring in the 1st inning
...22-0 when leading after the 6th inning
...20-2 when out-hitting its opponent

Illini Team Notes
• Hartleb Captures 200th Win:
Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb nabbed his 200th career win when the Illini topped Illinois State, 7-5, on April 17. Hartleb currently ranks seventh on the Illinois all-time wins list with 203, six away from tying Carl Lundgren's 209 career victories.

• 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 Attacks Record Book:
Center fielder Willie Argo will leave Illinois with his named splashed across the record book. His most recent target was the career stolen bases record, which he broke at Illinois State on March 27 with his 84th career steal. That passed Todd Schmitke's previous record of 83, which had stood since 1982, a span of 30 years. The Davenport, Iowa, native also holds Illinois' single-season steals record with 41 in 2010 and hit the second-most home runs by a freshman with 12 in 2009. See page five for a list of records to watch.

• 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
Winners of four of their last five games, the Illini travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to face Indiana State on Tuesday in Illinois' next-to-last mid-week game of 2012. The Orange and Blue have won four of seven mid-week contests and could finish with a solid 6-3 mid-week record with wins against Indiana State and Southern Illinois. Indiana State has played well this year, posting a 31-10 overall mark and an 8-4 record in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sycamores, fresh off a series win over Dallas Baptist last weekend, also have won four of their last five and 13 of 17. Indiana State also enjoyed a 13-game win streak from March 4-23. ISU has won all four of its MVC series to this point, beating Evansville, Illinois State, Creighton and Bradley.

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
Illinois holds a narrow advantage in the all-time series with Indiana State at 35-33-2 but the Sycamores are 17-12-1 against the Illini in Terre Haute. The teams were scheduled to play a three-game series at Illinois Field in March 2011, but the final two games were canceled because of unseasonably cold weather after the Illini earned a 7-6 win on a walk-off walk on March 25. Illinois holds a slim 7-6 series margin since 2000 but has won five of the last seven meetings, with losses in 2009 (11-10 in Terre Haute) and 2007 (4-0 in Champaign) the only blemishes in that stretch. The Illini are 3-2 against the Sycamores under head coach Dan Hartleb and 1-1 in Terre Haute.