Illinois Set for Big Ten Showdown with #24 Indiana

Junior Will Krug and the Illini will host first-place Indiana for a three-game series between the top two teams in the Big Ten at Illinois Field this weekend.
Junior Will Krug and the Illini will host first-place Indiana for a three-game series between the top two teams in the Big Ten at Illinois Field this weekend.

April 24, 2014

 Illinois (22-15, 9-3 Big Ten) vs. #24 Indiana (26-11, 11-1 Big Ten)
 Game 1 Friday, April 25, 2014 | 6 p.m.
 Game 2 Saturday, April 26, 2014 | 3 p.m.
 Game 3 Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 1 p.m. (Bleacher Bum BBQ)
 Location Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.
 Mobile Live Stats Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM 1400 - Dave Loane and Scott Beatty (Fri. & Sat.), Loren Tate (Sun.)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Game Notes Illinois | Indiana
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Drasen Johnson (RHP, r-Jr., 4-4, 2.30 ERA)
IND: Joey DeNato (LHP, Sr., 8-1, 2.12 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, Jr., 4-1, 3.00 ERA)
IND: Christian Morris (RHP, So., 2-2, 2.49 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, So., 4-2, 4.43 ERA)
IND: Brian Korte (LHP, Sr., 0-0, 1.77 ERA)
 Series History Illinois leads 111-73-1
 Games in CU Illinois leads 62-28
 Last Season Indiana won series, 2-1
 Streak Won 1
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | David Kerian
 Fan Info Admission and parking for all Illinois home games at Illinois Field is FREE for all fans. Due to the Illinois Marathon, there will be an abundance of road closures affecting Friday and Saturday's games. The best way to access Illinois Field on Saturday will be from the southeast, via Windsor to Lincoln to Florida. For detailed information, click here.

Illinois... off to its best Big Ten start under Hartleb at 9-3
...had consecutive Big Ten road sweeps (Northwestern and Penn State) for the first time since 2009
...has won six of its last seven games against Indiana at Illinois Field 16-12 against Indiana under coach Hartleb 9-4 at home and 18-5 when out-hitting its opponent

Big Ten Showdown in Champaign
Illinois will host first-place Indiana for a three-game series between the top two teams in the Big Ten at Illinois Field this weekend (April 25-27). The Illini (9-3) sit two games behind the Hoosiers (11-1) in the Big Ten standings. Friday night's first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. followed by a 3 p.m. start on Saturday and a 1 p.m. series finale on Sunday.

Bleacher Bum BBQ on Sunday | Promo Video
The sixth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue presented by WCIA, the premier promotion for Fighting Illini baseball, will be held Sunday, April 27, when Illinois hosts Indiana at 1 p.m. at Illinois Field. This year's event will feature free barbecue courtesy of Hickory River for the first 500 fans and free Illinois baseball mini helmets for the first 1,000 fans. Free admission and free parking will be offered at the event, with free food beginning an hour before first pitch at noon. Fans also will be able to get free snow cones in their mini helmets during the showdown between the top two teams in the Big Ten. The event has quickly become successful, as the previous five editions have drawn an average crowd of 3,022 fans to Illinois Field, including an all-time high of 5,214 in 2009.

Other promotions this weekend include the second Illinois baseball card set giveaway (while supplies last), post-game autographs with select players on Friday, Spring Cleaning Day on Saturday and post-game wiffle ball for kids on Sunday (weather permitting). Illinois' marketing department will give out throwback prizes from years past as part of Spring Cleaning Day.

Last Time Out
Illinois split its pair of midweek games, winning its fourth straight in a 3-2 victory over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday and having its streak snapped with a 5-2 loss to Missouri at Busch Stadium. Against EIU, starter Rob McDonnell improved to 3-0 with two hits and two runs allowed in five innings, redshirt-sophomore Andrew Mamlic gave up one hit in three shutout stanzas and closer Tyler Jay registered his sixth save after surrendering two hits in the ninth. Against Mizzou, the Illini couldn't get the bats going at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers only mustered five hits and two of their five runs were unearned, while the Illini had six hits, led by freshman Ryne Roper who went 2-for-3.

Know Your Opponent
Following its College World Series appearance last season, Indiana sits at No. 4 in the NCAA RPI and in first place halfway through the 2014 Big Ten season. The Hoosiers are 11-1 with its only loss coming in the finale of their opening conference series with Michigan. IU Followed it with sweeps at Ohio State and Iowa and against Michigan State. Indiana leads the conference in pitching with a 2.48 ERA, led by Scott Effross (1.41 ERA - leads Big Ten). IU also has two of the top three hitters in the Big Ten in Dustin DeMuth (.367) and Sam Travis (.355). Indiana sits in the Top 25 in five different polls: 13th in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, 18th in Baseball America and 24th in NCBWA, Perfect Game and USA Today.

Series History with Indiana
Illinois leads the all-time series with Indiana 111-73-1 and holds a 62-28 edge in games played in Champaign. The Illini have won six of the past seven games against the Hoosiers at Illinois Field, including a sweep in 2011 that clinched the Big Ten title. Head coach Dan Hartleb is 16-12 all-time against Indiana, with a 4-4 series record in his eight years at the helm. IU went 2-1 against UI last year in Bloomington.

Best Big Ten Start under Hartleb
Illinois improved to 9-3 in conference play following the sweep at Penn State, marking the best Big Ten start in nine years under head coach Dan Hartleb. The Illini's previous best mark after 12 games under Hartleb was 8-4 in 2009. The Orange and Blue last started Big Ten action with a 9-3 mark in 2005, the final year under former head coach Itch Jones in which they won the Big Ten title. Similarly, Illinois played a series against Indiana following its 9-3 start in 2005 and took three out of four from the Hoosiers.

Streaking at Times
Following an 8-10 start, Illinois won 10 of its next 11 games and improved to 18-11 following its season-long six-game winning streak from March 29-April 11. The Illini dropped their next three games before rebounding with a sweep of Penn State and a win over EIU to move to 22-14, which ranks as their best mark over .500 this year. Following the loss to Mizzou, Illinois enters this weekend at 22-15 overall.

Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 22 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .307 and have a 1.95 ERA, while in their 14 losses, they are batting .232 and have a 4.86 ERA.

Walton's Streak Snapped at 18
After starting the season 0-for-20, sophomore Adam Walton went on career-high 18-game hitting streak from March 22 to April 22. He led Illinois with a .397 average (27-of-68) during that stretch, which ended against Missouri on April 23. His streak is the longest by an Illini this season and equaled shortstop Thomas Lindauer for the longest streak since Justin Parr's school-record 33-game mark in 2013. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native is hitting .293 overall and ranks second on the Illini with 10 stolen bases.

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 two 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 266-214 (9 seasons: 2006-present)

Goldstein Lights Up Midweek
Sophomore catcher Jason Goldstein dominated during Illinois' first three midweek games, going 11-for-16 (.688) with five runs, a homer, eight 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), finished 3-for-5 with two doubles at Illinois State (4/15) and tallied two RBI while going 1-for-4 vs. EIU (4/22). He had his first hitless midweek game against Missouri (4/23) and is hitting .550 (11-for-20) in four total midweek contests.

Ryne Roper: B1G Freshman of Week
Illinois third baseman Ryne Roper was tabbed Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the first time in his career after leading the Illini with a .417 average (5-for-12) during the sweep of Penn State in Happy Valley. The Harrisburg, Ill., native scored three runs and notched three RBI on the weekend. Roper posted two-hit games in the series opener and finale, boosting his average in Big Ten play to .340. He also had a perfect fielding percentage at the hot corner with four assists and three putouts. Roper is the first Illini to win the award this season, with Illinois' last Big Ten Freshman of the Week going to Kevin Duchene (May 13, 2013).

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 first in the Big Ten in hits (54) and ranks fourth in stolen bases (16). The Park Ridge, Ill., native has a team-high 18 multi-hit games and ranks second on the Illini with a .331 average. He also leads the team in Big Ten games with a .407 mark. 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.

Pitching Keeps Improving
After struggling with a 9.11 ERA in the season-opening series at Georgia State, the Illini pitching staff has been dominant with a 2.55 ERA. They allowed 9.3 runs per game (28 runs) and a .388 average in the first three games followed by a .249 average and just 3.1 runs per game (106 runs) in the last 34 games. In the latest NCAA stat rankings, Illinois ranked fifth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.26), seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.07) and 44th in ERA (3.08), which is the third-best earned run average in the Big Ten. The Illini are the only Big Ten team yet to allow 100 walks, ranking first in the category at 83, with Penn State in second at 105.

McDonnell Steps Up in Starts
Redshirt-junior Rob McDonnell has stepped up in his four starts this season and is 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in seven total appearances this year. He collected his first career win in Illinois' home opener against Indiana State and picked up his second win against Purdue. The Barrington, Ill., native threw five shutout innings and allowed three hits while striking out a career-high six Sycamores. He also went five innings in his third win against EIU. Prior to 2014, he made two starts in 2012 before being shut down due to Tommy John surgery and started for Illinois at Busch Stadium last season, throwing the first inning in the win over Mizzou.

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.

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) and two at Penn State (4/18). The Illini have scored 26 runs of support in his 10 starts, which is still the lowest average among regular starters at 2.6. The Chillicothe, Ill., native is 4-4 with a 2.30 ERA (7th in Big Ten) and a team-high 50 strikeouts (3rd in Big Ten).

Kravetz Wins B1G Pitcher of 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. 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. After winning last week at Penn State, the Lansing, Ill., native is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

Castellanos Finds the Zone
Sunday's starter Ryan Castellanos has only allowed one walk in his seven starts (40.2 IP) this season and leads the nation with 0.22 walks allowed per nine innings. The Davie, Fla., native is 4-2 with a 4.43 ERA this year, as all three Illini starters are tied for the team lead with four wins.