The Bleacher Bum Barbecue is back for the third-straight year as Illinois hosts Ohio State in a crucial Big Ten series.
May 5, 2011
Ohio State at Illinois
May 6 // Illinois Field // 6:05 pm // FightingIllini.com // Champaign, Ill. // Bleacher Bum BBQ Info
May 7 // Illinois Field // 3:05 pm // FightingIllini.com // Champaign, Ill.
May 8 // Illinois Field // 1:05 pm // FightingIllini.com // Champaign, Ill.
Ohio State (20-19, 9-6 Big Ten) at Illinois (18-23, 8-7 Big Ten)
Live Video: On FightingIllini.com
Radio: WDWS AM-1400 (PBP: Dave Loane; Color: Loren Tate [Fri], Jeff Huth [Sat], Darrin Fletcher [Sun])
Live Audio: Available on fightingillini.com
Live Stats: Gametracker on fightingillini.com
Series: Ohio State leads 95-88-2
Games in Champaign: Illinois leads 46-43
Last Year: Illinois won series
Game 1 Starters
Ohio State: Drew Rucinski (RHP, 5-1, 2.11 ERA)
Illinois: Kevin Johnson (RHP, 2-5, 4.02 ERA)
Game 2 Starters
Ohio State: Brett McKinney (RHP, 1-3, 5.72 ERA)
Illinois: John Anderson (RHP, 5-5, 3.41 ERA)
Game 3 Starters
Ohio State: Greg Greve (RHP, 1-1, 5.67 ERA)
Illinois: Corey Kimes (LHP, 2-4, 5.74 ERA)
...6-2 in its last 8 games
...16-3 when out-hitting its opponent
...15-1 when tied or ahead after the 7th inning
...14-1 when scoring 7 or more runs
...13-6 when holding opponents to 4 or fewer runs
...14-4 when scoring 4 or more runs in an inning
Illini Line Drives
Illini Heating Up for Stretch Run: After scuffling for much of the season, Illinois is starting to hit its stride heading into the stretch run. The Illini have won six of their last eight games after losing 11 of their first 15 games in the month of April. Their current 18-23 record is the closest the Orange and Blue have been to the .500 mark since winning the series-opener at Michigan on April 15.
`Pistol Pete' Becomes Automatic: Second baseman Pete Cappetta was nearly automatic reaching base at Northwestern last weekend, earning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week honors after hitting .667 with a .714 on-base percentage. Cappetta recorded a four-hit game on Sunday and had five consecutive hits across Saturday and Sunday's games. He's hitting .429 in the leadoff spot over the last 13 games and is reaching base at a .500 clip in that time frame. Cappetta currently ranks second in the Big Ten in conference games in average at .447, leads the league in OBP (.532) and is third in slugging (.632).
Joyce, Braun Post Excellent April: Closer Wes Braun and reliever Luke Joyce were stellar in the month of April, allowing only one earned run between them across 16 2/3 innings over 13 appearances, posting a 0.54 ERA. They allowed only 11 hits and seven walks while striking out 14.
Streaking Through 2011: The Fighting Illini have had four losing streaks of three games or more this year and two winning streaks. Illinois lost five straight games from Feb. 27-March 11, four straight from April 2-6 and three in a row from March 13-18 and April 17-23. The Illini put together a five-game winning streak from March 19-April 1 and a three-game winning streak from April 23-26.
Justin Playing Above Parr: Justin Parr has thrived after being reinserted into the starting lineup at designated hitter against Illinois State on March 30, hitting a blistering .416 (37-for-89) in the last 24 games with seven doubles, a triple, nine RBIs and 14 runs. He hit ninth in the order at Penn State but was moved up to the No. 7 spot at Bradley on April 5, hit sixth on April 6 and has hit second in Illinois' last 16 games. He currently leads the Big Ten with a .455 average in conference games, ranks fifth in on-base percentage (.484) and eighth in slugging (.564), while standing tied for second in the conference in hits (25). He is second on the team with 14 multiple-hit games and is hitting a team-high .422 with two outs.
Hohl Does it All: Third baseman Brandon Hohl, who saw his batting average dip to .256 after the game against Northern Illinois on March 17, has been extremely solid over the last 27 games, going 33-for-100 (.330) with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs, 27 RBIs and 13 runs while making only five errors.
Anderson Far Above Average: Senior starting pitcher John Anderson has been exceptional of late, allowing only six earned runs while pitching three straight complete games. He leads the Big Ten lead with four complete games, with all of them in conference action. In Big Ten games, he has a 2.87 ERA and is 2-3 after receiving 16 runs of support in his five conference starts. In his four complete games, Anderson has allowed only eight earned runs in 34 innings, a 2.12 ERA. He has struck out 23 hitters in Big Ten play, tied for sixth in the league, and is tied for second in innings pitched (37 2/3), ranks fourth in opponent batting average (.228), and is 11th in batters struck out looking (7). He also has walked only three hitters in Big Ten play, tied for third-fewest in Big Ten play.
Hits Hard to Come by Against Illini: Kevin Johnson and John Anderson, the first two pitchers in Illinois' weekend rotation, have allowed only 131 hits in 140 1/3 innings of work, less than one hit per inning. Additionally, closer Wes Braun has given up only eight hits in 15 innings and Will Strack has allowed only 32 hits in 32 1/3 innings.
Starters Hold Opponents with 2 Outs: The Illini's three weekend starters have excelled once they've recorded two outs this year. In 2011, Illinois' weekend rotation has held opponents to a .257 batting average with two outs. Kevin Johnson has a .261 average with two outs, John Anderson has a .250 mark and Corey Kimes has posted a .258 average.
Relievers Regularly Rock Opponents: Three Illini relievers have posted ERAs under 4.00 thus far, with fifth-year senior Wes Braun notching a 0.60 mark, junior Will Strack holding a team-best 3.34 ERA (among regular pitchers), including a 3.70 mark as a reliever, and freshman Luke Joyce at 2.08 but below the minimum number of innings to be considered a regular pitcher. Braun just gave up his first earned run of the season in the series finale at Northwestern on May 1.
Parr Flashes the Leather: Shortstop Josh Parr has been greatly improved defensively in 2011, committing only five errors in 167 chances for a .970 fielding percentage. He has the fewest errors of any Big Ten shortstop and is dramatically better than last season, when he made 26 errors on the season.
Illini Host Buckeyes for Pivotal Big Ten Series
Illinois, which has won six of its last eight games, welcomes Ohio State to Illinois Field for a crucial Big Ten series this weekend. While the Illini have begun to heat up as the calendar has turned to May, the Buckeyes also have hit their stride, winning nine of their last 13 games. OSU also swept a series from Michigan last weekend but has lost both of its conference road series to this point, at Indiana and Penn State. The Buckeyes have won series against Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus.
Series History Against Ohio State
Ohio State leads the all-time series 95-88-2, but the Fighting Illini hold a 46-43 edge in games played in Champaign. Illinois won last year's series, taking two of three games in Columbus, and OSU took the 2009 series in Champaign. The Buckeyes hold an 18-16 advantage since 2000, with the teams playing each season except for 2002 (2003 was a non-conference series played in Florida). Illinois is 8-5 against OSU since 2000, though, sweeping the 2005 series, splitting two games in 2007 and four games in 2000, and dropping two of three in 2009.
This Weekend's Promotions
This weekend's promotions schedule is highlighted by the premier promotion for 2011, the third-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue, on Friday. The first 2,000 fans will receive free food and kids can enjoy inflatable games throughout the evening. Following the first game of the series between Illinois and Ohio State, fans will be treated to a postgame fireworks display. On Saturday, fans are invited to bring their dogs to Illinois Field for Dog Day, and mothers will be honored with in-game promotions recognizing moms on Sunday. Also on Sunday, kids can get autographs from and play wiffleball with Illini players following the game.
*Complete series notes in the above PDF file