Daniel Webb is hitting .414 with a double, eight RBI and three runs since the Illinois State game.
April 26, 2007
Games 37-40 // Minnesota
April 27 // 6:05 p.m.
April 28 (DH) // 3:05 p.m.
April 29 // 12:05 p.m.
Illinois Field // Champaign, Ill.
Illinois (19-17 // 7-7) at Minnesota (27-7 // 9-2)
Live Stats: Gametracker on fightingillini.com
Radio: WDWS AM-1400; Live streaming on fightingillini.com
(Dave Loane, play-by-play; Eric Loy, analyst)
Series: Minnesota leads 96-88-1 in overall series
Minnesota leads 43-42-1 in games played in Champaign
Last Year: Illinois won series 3-1; Minnesota won in BT Tourn.
Game 1 Probables
Illinois: Tanner Roark (RHP, 4-1, 5.16 ERA)
Minnesota: Tom Buske (RHP, 2-0, 2.63 ERA)
Game 2 Probables
Illinois: Mike Stankiewicz (RHP, 3-3, 6.86 ERA)
Minnesota: Gary Perinar (RHP, 2-3, 3.95 ERA)
Game 3 Probables
Illinois: Ben Reeser (RHP, 3-2, 9.11 ERA)
Minnesota: Marcus McKenzie (LHP, 6-0, 5.05 ERA)
Game 4 Probables
Illinois: Scott Shaw (RHP, 3-2, 5.97 ERA)
Minnesota: Dustin Brabender (RHP, 4-1, 3.54 ERA)
Illini Line Drives
With Lars Davis holding a .453 batting average and Kyle Hudson sitting at .434, Illinois has two hitters over .400 halfway through the Big Ten season for the first time since Brian McClure and Josh Klimek accomplished the feat in 1996.
Illinois has played 12 of its first 14 Big Ten games (86 percent) away from Illinois Field this season after two games of the Ohio State home series were cancelled because of frigid temperatures. It is the most road games Illinois has ever played in a first half of a conference season, surpassing the 1988 and 1991 seasons when Illinois played 10 of its first 14 games (of a 28-game season) on the road.
Mike Stankiewicz was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on April 17 after one-hitting Northwestern, the first Illini one-hitter since Brett Weber one-hit the Wildcats on April 4, 1998. Stankiewicz did not allow a base runner after the third inning and allowed just one batter past second base. He struck out the side in the seventh, finishing with a career-high seven strikeouts.
Ryan Hastings earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors on April 10 after going 6-for-7 in two games with Ohio State. The redshirt-junior scored four runs and drove in one in the double-dip.
Lars Davis continues his torrid hitting, going 6-for-11 (.545) with three runs and three RBI since losing his career-best 19-game hitting streak in the doubleheader nightcap at Northwestern. Davis bounced back from that oh-fer by going 4-for-5 in the series finale, then hitting an inside-the-park home run at Illinois State, the first Illini to do so since Brady Ballard circled them all at Indiana in 2000.
Ryan Snowden saw his school-record hitting streak end at 25 games as he went 0-for-4 against Northwestern on April 15. He hasn't let that faze him, though, as he has hit .357 (10-for-28) with five RBI and seven runs in seven games since losing the streak.
Brandon Wikoff has found his stride lately, going 12-for-30 (.400) in his last six games with the first two extra-base hits of his career (HR at ISU, 2B at Iowa), six RBI and seven runs.
The Illini pitching staff stymied a strong hitting team in Eastern Illinois on Tuesday. The Panthers came into the game hitting .301 but Illinois held them to four hits and just five balls hit out of the infield in an 8-0 Illini win. Ben Reeser, Scott Shaw and Jake Toohey combined on Illinois' third shutout of the season.
Tanner Roark has been very strong on Fridays recently, striking out a career-high nine Northwestern hitters in seven innings on April 13 before fanning six Hawkeyes in seven innings on April 20. In his last two starts, he has allowed just three runs on 15 hits and four walks while striking out 15 for a 1.92 ERA.
Shawn Roof continues his ascent up the stolen base and HBP record lists. With six steals and four HBP at Iowa, Roof now sits second on both the season and career HBP record lists, and is fourth and fifth on the season and career steals lists, respectively. Roof has stolen five straight bases without being caught and 12 of his last 13. On April 8, Roof was hit by a pitch four times in the second game against Ohio State, breaking the single-game school record. He also tied the single-game steals record on March 4 against Stephen F. Austin by swiping four bags.
Through Wednesday's games, the Fighting Illini are tied for the conference lead in hitting with a .334 team average in all games and are fourth in conference games at .319. Michigan's .334 overall mark is tied with the Illini and the Wolverines' .350 average in conference leads the league. Illinois is first in the league in hits (427), runs scored (269) and steals (80-of-103), and has the second-fewest strikeouts (153) in the Big Ten.
Davis leads the Big Ten in hitting in all games at .453 and Kyle Hudson's .434 mark is third. Davis also leads the league in hits (67), total bases (104), slugging percentage (.703) and home runs (9). He's second in RBI (38) and runners caught stealing (17), fourth in runs (35) and on-base percentage (.497). Hudson is second in the Big Ten in on-base percentage (.517).
Roof leads the Big Ten in stolen bases (30), steal attempts (35) and hit by pitch (18) in all games, Mike Rohde leads the league in doubles (15) and triples (4), and Ryan Snowden is tied for fifth in the league in hits (50).
Davis leads Illinois with 19 multiple-hit games (10 two-hit, 3 three-hit, 6 four-hit) and his 11 multiple-RBI games (6 two-RBI, 5 three-RBI) are best on the squad. For comparison's sake, Illinois had only nine four-hit games as a team in 2006.
Illinois earned an academic honor on Thursday when it was awarded the NCAA's Public Recognition award for recording a multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) score in the top 10 percent of all Division-I baseball teams. Multi-year APR scores will be announced on May 2, along with penalties for low-performing teams.
March 27's crowd of 1,060 Illini fans broke the Illinois Field record for a home opener, eclipsing last season's 1,012 fans at the home opener against Purdue on March 31, 2006.
Illini Start Second Half of Big Ten Season
Illinois hosts Minnesota this weekend for the first time since 2004. The Illini faced the Golden Gophers at Seibert Field in Minneapolis in 2005, losing three of four games, then took three of four from Minnesota at the Metrodome last season. Both seasons, however, the Gophers have defeated Illinois in the teams' opening game of the Big Ten Tournament. The Illini have lost six of their last nine games against Minnesota at Illinois Field.
This Weekend's Promotions
Friday is Illinois' "Party in the Park" premier promotion, featuring free admission for all fans and seventh-inning stretch fireworks presented by Main Street Bank and Trust. The first 100 fans will receive a coupon for a free Chipotle burrito, and the first 50 Illinois students will get a free Illini Baseball t-shirt. Saturday is also Little League Day, meaning children eighth grade and under who wear their little league uniform will get in free. In addition, there will be an Illinois Baseball alumni reunion this weekend, featuring a tailgate before Saturday's doubleheader and including introducing alumni in attendance between Saturday's games. On Sunday, kids can play wiffleball after the game with the Illini team.
Last Year vs. Minnesota
The Illini won three of four games against Minnesota at the Metrodome, winning the series opener in dramatic fashion. Joe Bonadonna beat out an infield single in the eighth and moved to second when Lars Davis was picked off third. Bonadonna advanced to third on an infield hit by Kyle Hudson and scored on a wild pitch, narrowly sliding under the tag, for a 4-3 win in game one. After losing the first game of the doubleheader, 9-5, Illinois bounced back with a 5-4 win behind a three-run home run by Ryan Snowden and superior relief pitching. On Sunday, Snowden and Dave Schultz each recorded five-hit games as the Illini battered Minnesota for five runs in the first inning on the way to a 16-8 win, taking three of four games at the Metrodome.
Current Illini vs. Minnesota
Kyle Hudson leads all returning Illini against Minnesota, having hit .462 with two doubles, three RBI and four runs in five games against the Gophers last year. Ryan Snowden went 8-for-19 (.421) with six runs, five RBI and his first career homer against the Gophers in 2006, and Joe Bonadonna hit .417 in four games at the Metrodome, driving in four runs and scoring three. Ryan Hastings also hit .400 last year with a double, two triples, four runs, two RBI and 2-for-2 steals. For his career, Hastings is hitting .300 against Minnesota. On the mound, Brian Long was 1-0 in 4 1/3 innings over two appearances, not allowing a run while giving up three hits and no walks with two strikeouts. Jake Toohey has three career saves against Minnesota, grabbing two in 2006 and one in 2005. He allowed only one base runner in two innings last season with one strikeout. Overall, he has an 0-1 record with a 6.14 ERA in 7 1/3 innings against the Gophers.
Last Time Out: Iowa, EIU, Blackburn
Illinois went 3-3 in the last week, losing three of four games at Iowa before rebounding with a pair of mid-week wins against Eastern Illinois and Blackburn. The Illini won the opener at Iowa on the arm of Tanner Roark, who tossed seven quality innings, pushing Illinois past Iowa, 6-2, on Friday. The rest of the series wasn't as favorable for the Illini, who lost Saturday's first game 10-9 in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off solo shot by Iowa's Jason White. The nightcap ended 10-4 in Iowa's favor and the Hawkeyes won a 17-12 marathon on Sunday in which both teams sent six pitchers to the mound.
On Tuesday, the Illini got stellar pitching from Ben Reeser and Scott Shaw, who each tossed four innings, and Jake Toohey, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, in Illinois' 8-0 win over Eastern Illinois. EIU managed just four hits and hit just five balls out of the infield on the night. The next night, the Illini downed Blackburn 9-3, getting five solid innings from starter Kevin Manson, who earned his first career win, and getting a three-hit performance from Lars Davis.
Illini in National Stat Rankings
In the official NCAA statistical rankings released Wednesday and taking stats through Sunday's games, Illinois ranks 11th in the nation in batting average (.333), 10th in stolen bases per game (2.29), 17th in double plays per game (1.06) and 34th in scoring (7.4 runs/gm). Below are where Illinois players rank nationwide:
Batting Avg. 8. Lars Davis .446 18. Kyle Hudson .426 Stolen Bases/game 3. Shawn Roof 0.88
Lars Davis, Canadian Hitting Machine
Catcher Lars Davis is having an All-American-caliber season with his eye-popping .453 average along with 38 RBI, 35 runs, a .703 slugging percentage and a .497 on-base percentage. He recently had a 19-game hitting streak, which ranks fourth-best in Illinois history, snapped at Northwestern, but he responded by going 4-for-5 with a double and two runs. The next game, at Illinois State, Davis hit his first career inside-the-park home run, his seventh dinger of the year.
Halfway through the Big Ten season, Davis is the first Illinois hitter to hold an average over .450 through four Big Ten series since Darrin Fletcher's 1987 season to which all other Illini players are compared. Fletcher finished that year with a mammoth .497 average.
Davis ranks fourth in the nation in average, 43rd in slugging percentage and 83rd in runs per game (1.11) through Sunday's games. He also is among Big Ten leaders in most offensive categories.
Roof at it Again
Shawn Roof continues to be a thorn in the side of opponents, owning a .417 on-base percentage thanks to a team-high 18 HBP. He also leads the team with 30-of-35 stolen bases. He is now tied for third on the career HBP record list, matching Brian Roberts' 36. His 49 career steals sit even with Brian White for eighth on the all-time chart. Roof currently leads the Big Ten in steals in all games and is tied for fourth in conference games.
Roof opened the season with 11 straight swipes and also has two six-steal streaks this year, including his current six-steal string.
Roof now has seven multiple-steal games on the season and 11 in his career. His back-to-back multiple-steal games against Illinois State and Robert Morris mark the first time he has ever accomplished that feat.
Streaks End, Rank Among Illini Best
Leftfielder Ryan Snowden lost his 25-game hitting streak on April 15 at Northwestern when he went 0-for-4, but his hit in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader with the Wildcats broke the school record. Catcher Lars Davis also broke a lengthy streak when he went hitless in the second game of the Northwestern double-dip, ending a 19-game streak. Here is where both hitters rank on the all-time hitting streak chart:
Player Dates of Streak # of Games 1. Ryan Snowden 2/25/07-4/14/07 25 2. Tom Sinak 4/17/94-3/5/95 23 3. Andy Schutzenhofer 5/21/00-3/17/01 20 4. Lars Davis 3/10/07-4/14/07 19 Danny Rhodes 5/3/97-3/14/98 19
Webb Getting Untangled
Junior Daniel Webb has taken to the designated hitter slot of late. After moving to an offense-only role at the beginning of the Northwestern series, Webb has hit .390 (16-for-41), second-best on the team in those 12 games, with two doubles, eight RBI and three runs. He's even better in the team's last eight games, starting at Illinois State on April 17, hitting .414 (12-for-29) with a double, four RBI and three runs. He has three-straight multiple-hit games and six in his last eight games. He has raised his batting average 53 points since the start of the Northwestern series.
Wikoff Rarely Whiffs
After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the first game of the doubleheader at Northwestern, freshman Brandon Wikoff has bounced back from an 0-for-9 mini-slump in the first two games against the Wildcats.
Since the third game at Northwestern, Wikoff has gone 13-for-34 (.382) with seven RBI and eight runs. He's even found a bit of power, homering at Illinois State for his first collegiate extra-base hit and doubling in the first game at Iowa, both three-hit efforts.
He's currently on a team-best six-game hitting streak and has four multiple-hit games in his last eight.
Wikoff hasn't struck out since fanning twice in that game at Northwestern, a streak of 30 at bats. He ranks 24th nationally in the Toughest to Strike Out category, whiffing just once every 17.4 ABs.
Tanner Takes Charge
With the Illini pitching staff needing a pick-me-up in recent weeks, No. 1 starter Tanner Roark has provided just that with 14 innings over two starts in which he has allowed just three runs on 15 hits and four walks while striking out 15.
Roark struck out a career-high nine Northwestern hitters on April 13 and his two seven-inning outings the past two Fridays have been career-long appearances.
Roark is now 3-0 on Fridays in Big Ten play, having won by the same 6-2 score the past two weeks.