Illinois to Play Final Big Ten Series at Minnesota

Freshman Jason Goldstein and the Illini will play their final Big Ten series against Minnesota (May 16-18), with games one and two scheduled to be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Freshman Jason Goldstein and the Illini will play their final Big Ten series against Minnesota (May 16-18), with games one and two scheduled to be televised by the Big Ten Network.

May 14, 2013

 Illinois (31-15, 12-9 Big Ten) at Minnesota (29-18, 12-6 Big Ten)
 Game 1 Thursday, May 16, 2013 | 3:05 p.m. (BTN)
 Game 2 Friday, May 17, 2013 | 2:05 p.m. (BTN)
 Game 3 Saturday, May 18, 2013 | 1:05 p.m.
 Location Siebert Field | Minneapolis, Minn.
 Gametracker Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Video Game 1 (BTN: Mike Wolf & Jerry Kindall) | Game 2 (BTN: Matt Shephard & Danan Hughes) | Game 3 on BTDN ($)
 Live Audio ($) Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Radio WDWS AM-1400 (Dave Loane & Matt Wille)
 Game Notes Illinois | Minnesota
 Game 1 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Kevin Duchene (LHP, Fr., 7-1, 2.64 ERA)
MINN: Tom Windle (LHP, Jr., 6-3, 1.76 ERA)
 Game 2 Pitching  Matchup ILL: Ryan Castellanos (RHP, Fr., 3-1, 5.36 ERA)
MINN: Alec Crawford (RHP, Jr., 3-1, 2.47 ERA)
 Game 3 Pitching  Matchup ILL: John Kravetz (RHP, So., 4-1, 4.27 ERA)
MINN: DJ Snelten (LHP, Jr., 4-1, 2.22 ERA)
 Series History Minnesota leads 104-96-1
 Games in MN Minnesota leads 49-48
 Last Season Illinois won series, 2-1
 Streak Lost 1
 Social Media @IlliniBaseball   |  Facebook
 Preview Interviews Coach Hartleb | John Kravetz | Thomas Lindauer | Justin Parr

Illinois Is...
...tied for fifth in the Big Ten with Michigan at 12-9 control of its own destiny for the Big Ten Tournament
...37th in the NCAA RPI, third-highest in the Big Ten
...averaging 6.7 runs & nearly 11 hits per game
...22-1 when leading after seven innings

Final B1G Series vs. Minnesota
Making the Trip to Minneapolis: Illinois will head to Minneapolis for its final Big Ten series from May 16-18 at Siebert Field. The Illini, who are tied with Michigan for fifth place in the Big Ten at 12-9, will battle the Golden Gophers, who are in a three-way tie for second in the conference with Nebraska and Ohio State. The top six teams in the Big Ten will qualify for the Big Ten Tournament and play for the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament from May 22-25 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. If the Illini reach conference postseason play after this series, they will remain in Minneapolis to play in the Big Ten Tournament beginning on Wednesday.

Series History against Minnesota: Illinois won the series over Minnesota last season, marking the first time they met since 2009. The Orange and Blue won 7-5 in game one and 3-2 in game two before falling 8-3 in the series finale, which marked their final contest in 2012. The Illini have captured the last three series victories over the Gophers, winning 2-1 both last year and in 2009 in Champaign. UI also took the series the last time the two teams played in Minneapolis, grabbing three of four at Siebert Field in 2008. Head coach Dan Hartleb is 11-10 overall against the Gophers, including a 7-3 mark in the last 10 regular season meetings. The Gophers hold a narrow 104-96-1 advantage all-time against Illinois, including a 49-48 lead in games played in Minneapolis.

Big Ten Network Broadcasts: The Big Ten Network will broadcast live the first two games of the Illinois-Minnesota series. Thursday's game, which begins at 3:05 p.m., will feature Mike Wolf and Jerry Kindall on the call, while Friday's 2:05 p.m. contest will have Matt Shepard and Danan Hughes as announcers.

Big Ten Race Down to the Wire
Heading into the final weekend of the season, seven teams are alive for the six spots in the Big Ten Tournament. The top four teams are vying for the conference championship, while Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State are fighting for the final two spots to get into the tournament. Illinois and Michigan are tied for fifth at 12-9 and a half-game ahead of Michigan State in seventh place at 10-8. The Illini control their own destiny, meaning they are assured of being in the top six with three wins at Minnesota. Since Illinois sits ahead of Michigan State in the standings and owns the tiebreaker (record vs. common opponents) over Michigan, they also can qualify by matching what either the Spartans or Wolverines do in the final series. Michigan travels to second-place Nebraska, while Michigan State heads to last-place Penn State.

Illini Team Notes
Break Out the Brooms: The Illini captured their second Big Ten series sweep of the season last weekend, taking all three against Penn State in their final home series. Freshman Kevin Duchene dazzled on Friday night with a two-hit shutout and a career-high 11 strikeouts in the 9-0 victory. Illinois scored seven runs in the first three innings of game two and held off PSU for the 8-6 win. Illinois overcame a four-run deficit by scoring five runs in its final three innings, capping off a 5-4 comeback win on Senior Day to complete the sweep of Penn State. For the series, UI outscored Penn State 22-10 and hit .327 while boasting a 2.67 ERA with 23 strikeouts.

NCAA RPI Breakdown: Illinois owns the third highest RPI among Big Ten teams, checking in at No. 37 in the latest rankings. The Illini are listed behind only Indiana (No. 15) and Nebraska (No. 30).

Illini Reach 30 Wins: With its 8-6 win over Penn State (5/11) in game two of the series, the Illini garnered their 30th victory, marking the fifth time they have reached 30 wins under head coach Dan Hartleb in eight seasons. Illinois is currently 31-15, which is tied for the second-most wins in the Hartleb era. The Illini's top win total under Hartleb came in 2009 when the club finished 34-20.

Hits Translate to Wins: Illinois is 24-3 on the season when out-hitting its opponent and just 4-11 when getting out-hit by an opponent (also 3-1 when hits are equal). The Illini have recorded double-digit hits in 25 games this season. UI is averaging nearly 11 hits per game and ranks third in the Big Ten with 498 hits and a .304 batting average, which is ranked 21st in the NCAA.

Comeback Victories: The Illini have 12 comeback victories on the season and eight wins in their last at-bats. Their most recent one came in the series finale against Penn State (5/12) when they overcame a four-run deficit in the final three innings to win 5-4. With the game tied at four in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore David Kerian led off the inning with a walk and advanced all the way to third on a failed pickoff attempt. On a 3-1 count, Reid Roper sent a single up the middle through the drawn-in infield, bringing home Kerian for his second game-winning hit this season.

Second in Steals: The Illini rank second in the Big Ten with 96 stolen bases in 116 attempts, which is ranked in 18th in the NCAA. Redshirt-junior Jordan Parr and sophomore David Kerian lead the team and are tied for third in the Big Ten with 20 stolen bases. Eleven different Illini have at least one stolen base, and the Orange and Blue have been caught stealing 20 times, which is the third fewest in the Big Ten.

Early Offense Key for Illini: The Illini are 13-6 when scoring in the first inning and 23-6 when scoring before their opponent. Illinois is outscoring its opponents 47-28 in the first frame, which is its highest-scoring inning. UI ranks second in the Big Ten with 307 runs and has outscored its opponents (208 runs) in every inning but the sixth (tied) on the year. The Illini are averaging 6.7 runs per game in 2013 and have reached double figures in nine games.

Illini Player Notes
Duchene Honored after 2-Hit Shutout: Freshman Kevin Duchene was named Big Ten co-Pitcher and Freshman of the Week for the first time in his career this week. Duchene racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts and tossed a two-hit shutout in Illinois' 9-0 win over Penn State on Friday night. The Joliet, Ill., native improved to 7-1, which ranks as the second-most wins ever by an Illini freshman and tied for second in the Big Ten this year. Duchene carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and only walked one while throwing 103 pitches with 73 for strikes. The two PSU hits equaled the fewest allowed by Illinois this season. His 11 strikeouts equaled the most by an Illini pitcher since Drew Dickinson fanned 12 in an 11-inning win over Bucknell on March 15, 2002. Duchene shared pitching honors with Northwestern's Brandon Magallones. He is the first Illini pitcher to earn the award since Matt Milroy on April 9, 2012. He also becomes the fifth Illini to earn Freshman of the Week honors since it was instituted in 2011. Illinois' last Freshman of the Week honoree was Reid Roper on April 9, 2012.

School-Record Hitting Streak Ends at 33 Games: Senior Justin Parr owns the second-longest hitting streak in the NCAA in 2013 with a school-record mark of 33 games, which was snapped in the series finale against Penn State (5/12) when he finished 0-for-2 with two walks. He finished eight games shy of the all-time Big Ten record of 41 games, which was set by Penn State's Michael Campo in 2000. 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 recorded a hit in every game starting with the doubleheader at Baylor on March 9 and ending on May 12 against Penn State. He recorded multiple hits in over half of the 33 games. He tallied 16 games with one hit, 10 games with two hits, four games with three hits and three games with four hits, which included a cycle. He has hit all of his career-high six home runs during the streak.

Top Hitting Streaks in NCAA in 2013
1. Brenden Kalfus (SMU) 34 games (3/16/13-present)
2. Justin Parr (UI) 33 games (3/9/13-5/11/13)
3. Matt Oberste (OU) 30 games (2/15/13-3/30/13)

No. 2 Hitter in the Nation: Senior Justin Parr entered the week with the second-best average in the NCAA with his mark of .430 (83-for-193). He only trails Bradley's Mike Tauchman, who is up to .437. He also ranks in the Top 10 in the nation in hits (83), which leads the conference. He holds the top spot in the Big Ten in OBP (.486), total bases (121), RBI (50) and triples (4) and is in the top six in four other categories: 2nd in slugging (.627); T-4th in runs (40) and home runs (6); T-9th in doubles (12).

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 12-3 record in 37 total appearances, including 20 starts. Duchene (7-1) is tied for second in the Big Ten in wins after his two-hit shutout vs. Penn State (5/10). He also picked 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). Castellanos (3-1) won his first two career starts at Indiana (4/7) and vs. Purdue (4/14) and earned the win in his last start vs. Penn State. Blackburn (2-1) has notched wins over Boston College (2/24) and HBU (3/2), while suffering his only loss vs. Oakland (3/31).

Clutch Two-out Hitting: Illinois is hitting .321 (182-for-567) with two outs in an inning and has three players hitting over .400 when faced with the situation in sophomore David Kerian (.440, 22-for-50), senior Justin Parr (31-for-76, .408) and sophomore Michael Hurwitz (.404, 21-for-52). The Illini have 120 total two-out RBI, with six players in double figures - Justin Parr (21), Jordan Parr (18), Michael Hurwitz (18), David Kerian (16), Thomas Lindauer (12) and Reid Roper (10).