Illinois Set for Crucial Big Ten Series at Michigan State

Senior Brandon Hohl and the Illini will play a three-game series at McLane Baseball Stadium against Michigan State.
Senior Brandon Hohl and the Illini will play a three-game series at McLane Baseball Stadium against Michigan State.

May 2, 2013

 Illinois (27-13, 8-7 Big Ten) at Michigan State (24-13, 7-5 Big Ten)
 Game 1 Friday, May 3, 2013 | 2:05 p.m. CT
 Game 2 Saturday, May 4, 2013 | 12:05 p.m. CT
 Game 3 Sunday, May 5, 2013 | 12:05 p.m. CT
 Location McLane Baseball Stadium | East Lansing, Mich.
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Video ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM-1400 (Dave Loane & Matt Wille)
 Game Notes Illinois | Michigan State
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Johnson (RHP, Sr., 6-2, 2.45 ERA)
MSU: Andrew Waszak (RHP, Sr., 4-2, 2.44 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Duchene (LHP, Fr., 6-1, 2.79 ERA)
MSU: David Garner (RHP, Jr., 4-3, 3.76 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, So., 4-1, 4.87 ERA)
MSU: Mick VanVossen (RHP, So., 3-2, 3.38 ERA)
 Series History Illinois leads 69-60
 Games at MSU Michigan State leads 33-25
 Last Season Michigan State won series, 2-1
 Streak Won 1
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | Kevin Johnson | Jordan Parr

Illinois Is...
...tied for sixth in the Big Ten, just behind MSU (5th)
...33rd in Boyd's World RPI & Michigan State is 36th
...averaging 6.8 runs & 11 hits per game this season
...20-0 when leading after seven innings

Crucial Big Ten Series vs. MSU
Setting the Stage: Illinois will travel to East Lansing, Mich., for a crucial conference series with Michigan State this weekend at McLane Baseball Stadium. With only three Big Ten series remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with Michigan at 8-7, while Michigan State sits right above them at fifth in the standings at 7-5. The top six teams in the Big Ten will play for the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament from May 22-25 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. The Illini are rated second in the Big Ten in the latest Boyd's World RPI numbers at No. 33, while Michigan State is third in the conference at No. 36. Illinois will play last-place Penn State (May 10-12) and first-place Minnesota (May 16-18) for its final two Big Ten series.

Series History against the Spartans: Illinois leads the all-time series with the Spartans by a 69-60 margin but trails 33-25 in games played in East Lansing. The Illini went 1-2 against MSU last season at Illinois Field, but won the series in 2011, which sparked their Big Ten title run. Illinois and Michigan State have faced each other in each of the past 14 seasons, with the Illini holding a 33-19 advantage in that span, including a 17-8 margin on the road. Illinois lost its last series in East Lansing in 2010, but took three of four from the Spartans back in 2008.

Illini Team Notes
Series Victory over Northwestern: Illinois captured its second Big Ten series victory and improved to 8-7 in the conference after taking two of three from Northwestern at Illinois Field. The Illini pitching staff combined for a 2.03 ERA during the series and notched 26 strikeouts compared to only five walks. UI outscored NU 20-10 and notched the series win for the sixth time in the past seven years over the Wildcats.

Hits Translate to Wins: Illinois is 23-2 on the season when out-hitting its opponent and just 2-10 when getting out-hit by an opponent (also 2-1 when hits are equal). The Illini have recorded double-digit hits in 23 games this season, including in eight of the last 11 games. UI is averaging over 11 hits per game and ranks second in the Big Ten with 442 hits and a .307 batting average, which ranks in the Top 20 in the NCAA.

Comeback Victories: The Illini have 11 comeback victories on the season and seven wins in their last at-bats. Their most recent game-winner came in the 11-7 victory against Southern Illinois (4/30). The Illini scored four runs in the eighth to break the 7-7 tie, and Jordan Parr belted two home runs and tallied seven RBI. The first four Illini hitters each collected three hits and combined for nine runs and 10 RBI, while Drasen Johnson picked up his first win with 3.1 innings of relief.

Second in Steals: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten with 84 stolen bases in 102 attempts, which is ranked in the Top 20 in the NCAA. Sophomore David Kerian and redshirt-junior Jordan Parr are tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 17 stolen bases, which leads the Illini, while senior Justin Parr is tied for 12th in the conference with 13 steals. Eleven different Illini have at least one stolen base, and the Orange and Blue have been caught stealing 18 times, which is the fourth fewest in the Big Ten.

Early Offense Key for Illini: The Illini are 11-5 when scoring in the first inning and 20-5 when scoring before their opponent. Illinois is outscoring its opponents 39-22 in the first frame, which is its highest-scoring inning. UI ranks second in the Big Ten with 272 runs and has outscored its opponents (179 runs) in every inning on the year. The Illini are averaging 6.8 runs per game in 2013 and have reached double figures in nine games.

Illini Dig the Long Ball: After Jordan Parr went deep twice against SIU, Illinois is up to 27 homers on the year, which is ranked second in the Big Ten and has surpassed its total from 2012 of 18. Junior Thomas Lindauer leads the team and ranks second in the Big Ten with eight home runs this year, while Jordan Parr is second with six.

Illini Player Notes
28-Game Hit Streak: Senior Justin Parr owns the longest active hitting streak in the NCAA at 28 games and second-longest mark in the nation in 2013, trailing only Oklahoma's Matt Oberste (30 games). Parr broke Illinois' hitting streak school record when he tallied a hit in his 26th consecutive game with an infield single vs. Northwestern (4/27) and later added a home run. He tied Ryan Snowden's previous top mark of 25 games with a single in the ninth inning vs. Northwestern (4/26). The Chillicothe, Ill., native has recorded a hit in every game starting with the doubleheader at Baylor on March 9 and has recorded multiple hits in over half of the 28 games. He has tallied 13 games with one hit, nine games with two hits, three games with three hits and three games with four hits, which included a cycle. He has hit all of his career-high five home runs during the streak.

Top Hitting Streaks in NCAA in 2013
1. Matt Oberste (OU) 30 games (2/15/13-3/30/13)
2. Justin Parr (UI) 28 games (3/9/13-present)

Where Justin Parr Ranks: Senior Justin Parr is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA and leads the Big Ten in average (.436) and in the Top 10 in the nation in hits (75), which leads the conference. He also holds the top spot in the Big Ten in OBP (.484), total bases (110) and triples (4), ranks second in slugging percentage (.640) and RBI (45), sits 4th in runs (38), T-4th in doubles (12), T-5th in home runs (5) and T-12th in stolen bases (13).

Jordan Parr Heats Up: Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr extended his season-long hitting streak to 11 games by crushing a pair of three-run home runs and adding an RBI double vs. Southern Illinois (4/30), racking up a career-high seven RBI. The Chillicothe, Ill., native collected the most RBI by an Illini since 2004 when Chris Robinson notched eight vs. MacMurray (5/4/04). He became the first Illini to hit two home runs in a game since Brandon Hohl did so against SIU last season (March 18, 2012). He is now second on the team with six home runs, which is tied for third in the Big Ten. He also has moved up to third in the Big Ten in runs (40), fourth in RBI (37) and is tied for fifth in stolen bases (17) & walks (24).

Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .309 (151-for-488) with two outs in an inning and has a pair of players hitting over .385 when faced with the situation in sophomore David Kerian (.452, 19-for-42) and senior Justin Parr (25-for-65, .385). The Illini have 96 total two-out RBI, with five players in double figures - Jordan Parr (17), Justin Parr (16), Michael Hurwitz and David Kerian (12) and Thomas Lindauer (11).

Freshmen in the Rotation: Three freshmen pitchers, left-hander Kevin Duchene and right-handers Nick Blackburn and Ryan Castellanos, have been in the weekend rotation and combined for a 10-3 record in 32 total appearances, including 17 starts. Current Sunday starter Castellanos (2-1) won his first two career starts at Indiana (4/7) and vs. Purdue (4/14). Duchene (6-1) is tied for fourth in the Big Ten in wins after picking up victories out of the bullpen vs. Purdue (4/13) and Missouri at Busch Stadium (4/2) and in starts at Illinois State (4/16) and vs. Oakland (3/30, game 1), Ohio (2/22) and Houston Baptist (3/1). Blackburn (2-1) has notched wins over Boston College (2/24) and HBU (3/2), while suffering his only loss vs. Oakland (3/31).

Senior Day Time Change: May 12 at 11 a.m.
University of Illinois head baseball coach Dan Hartleb announced a time change for the final home game of the season against Penn State. The Illini will play the Nittany Lions at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 12, the final regular season home game at Illinois Field. The game was previously slated for a 1:05 p.m. start, but was moved up to accommodate travel arrangements for PSU. Senior Day recognition will take place on the field before the game.