Illini Head to Purdue for Final Road Series of 2011
May 12, 2011
Illinois at Purdue
Game 1 Starters
Game 2 Starters
Game 3 Starters
Illini Line Drives
April Struggles Bring May Success: The Illini struggled throughout the month of April, going 8-12 with a .280 team batting average and 5.15 team ERA. But that has changed as the calendar has turned to May, with Illinois holding a 4-2 record so far in May with a .335 team average and 5.77 team ERA. No players have responded to the new month better than Josh Parr and Chris Pack, as Parr is hitting .474 in May compared to .229 in April and Pack has a 0.00 ERA in 5 2/3 IP in May after posting an 8.10 mark in 10 IP in April.
Bats Come Around Recently: Illinois' offense has started to click in the last 10 games, as the team batting average has jumped 15 points to .281. In that span, the Illini have averaged 11.5 hits and 7.6 runs per game, recording double-digit hits seven times and double-digit runs four times. Illinois has recorded more than nine hits eight times in its last 10 games and more than six runs eight times.
`Pistol Pete' Becomes Automatic: Second baseman Pete Cappetta has nearly become automatic at the top of the Illini order lately, raising his average 102 points by hitting .476 (20-for-42) in the last 10 games. He earned Big Ten Co-Player of the Week honors on May 2 after hitting .667 with a .714 on-base percentage at Northwestern and went 7-for-19 in four games last week. He has seven multiple-hit games in the last 10, including a four-hit day and two three-hit games. Cappetta currently ranks third in the Big Ten in average in conference games at .415, is fourth in OBP (.492) and is ninth in slugging (.566).
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 .442 (46-for-104) in the last 27 games with eight doubles, a triple, 15 RBIs and 16 runs. He had three hits in each game of the Ohio State series, posting a .600 series average with six RBIs and two runs, to raise his average 27 points. He currently leads the Big Ten with a .486 average in conference games, ranks second in on-base percentage (.500) and fifth in slugging (.586), while leading the league in hits (34).
Illini Win 3 Consecutive Series: Illinois has caught fire in Big Ten play lately, winning three straight series over Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State. It is the first time since 2009 that the Illini have won three consecutive series, when Illinois took series against Minnesota, at Penn State and at Northwestern. The final game of each series has been a rubber game every weekend, as Illinois has neither been in a position to sweep or be swept in a Big Ten series this season.
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.
The Difference Between Winning and Losing: Coaches always talk about the fine line between winning and losing, but the difference has been quite obvious for Illinois in 2011. In wins, the Illini have averaged 8.4 runs, 12 hits, 7.3 hits allowed and 0.85 errors. In losses, Illinois has averaged 3.5 runs, 7.5 hits, 10.9 hits allowed and 1.4 errors. The Illini are out-scoring their opponents 8.4-4 in victories, compared to a 3.5-7.5 deficit in losses. Head coach Dan Hartleb often refers to "moving runners" and Illinois has advanced runners at a .559 rate in wins compared to a .397 rate in defeats.
Illini Start, Finish Series Strong: Illinois' offense has thrived in the first and third games of Big Ten series, averaging 11.5 hits and 6.7 runs in the opening games of series and 11.7 hits and 8.7 runs in series finales. The Illini are 8-4 in those two games of conference series, compared to a 2-4 mark in game two of a weekend series, where Illinois averages 8.2 hits and 3.8 runs.
Strack Picks Up Slack: Reliever Will Strack has been excellent in four appearances in Big Ten series openers, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. He has pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one run on three hits and five walks while striking out seven. Most recently, Strack tossed four scoreless innings of relief against Ohio State on May 6, eventually earning the win in a 13-9 contest.
The Show Goes On: Starting pitcher Corey Kimes, who teammates have nicknamed "The Big Show," has been an important part of Illinois' recent surge as he has pitched the Illini to wins in the past two series finales. Kimes allowed two runs in seven innings at Northwestern on May 1 and gave up three runs in seven innings against Ohio State on May 8. Illinois has won four of his last five starts, as he has allowed only nine earned runs in 24 1/3 innings against Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State. And in his last three starts, Kimes has posted a 3.86 ERA, best among starting pitchers, giving up eight earned runs in 18 2/3 innings.
Illini Head to Purdue for Final Road Series
Series History Against Purdue
*Complete series notes available in the above PDF