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Illini Baseball look forward to Big Ten Tournament

I hope the Illinois Baseball team packed enough clothes. Winning two games against Minnesota this past weekend they clinched a berth in the Big Ten Baseball Tournament with a 14–10 conference record. They will stay up in Minneapolis and begin the tournament on Wednesday at Target Field.

Weekend Wrapup

With his second big win in a row, freshman starter Kevin Duchene equaled the team record for wins by a freshman. That was set just last year by now-sophomore John Kravetz. Duchene kept the Gophers to six hits and two runs in six innings while the offense did its job. They scored four runs off of tough Minnesota starter Tom Windle, who came into the the game with a sub 2.00 ERA. David Kerian drove home two runs on three hits for the game, and Justin Parr and Thomas Lindauer both had multi-hit games. 

On Saturday, the Illini clinched a postseason appearance to the Big Ten Tournament with another win against Minnesota. It was a rainy day complete with a two-hour game delay. Starter Ryan Castellanos did a fine job (only two runs and five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings), but I can’t help but think the delay had a part in his early departure. The relief corps of Drasen Johnson, Ronnie Muck, and Bryan Roberts really came through in the 43 Illinois win. Combined, they allowed just two hits in four plus innings. Johnson got his third win of 2013 and Roberts earned his sixth save of the year. 

Offensively, it was Lindauer, Kerian, and Jordan Parr who all went two for four. Give a little credit to the Minnesota defense who had four errors and the Illini who managed to take advantage of them. 

It would have been nice to end the season with a win and Illini pitcher John Kravetz sure pitched like a winner. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Illinois lost a pitcher’s duel 20. Kravetz pitched one of his best games of the year, keeping the Gophers hitless till the seventh inning. Illinois actually out-hit Minnesota seven to five, but never crossed the plate. It was Minnesota pitcher DJ Snelten who eventually took the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors, deservedly so.

Big Ten Baseball Tournament Talk

As it turns out, Illinois’ two wins against Minnesota are enough to get them into the Big Ten Tournament. Looking at the final standings, Illinois ended up in a tie with Michigan for fifth place with a 14–10 conference record. 

It seems the pollsters do know what they’re talking about. Indiana, who have been ranked in the top 20 most of the year, ended up in first place with a 17–7 record. A look at their stats compared to the rest of the Big Ten will tell you why.

The Big Ten Baseball Tournament begins on May 22nd at Minneapolis’ Target Field. Here’s a look at the Tournament Bracket. Not only does the Illinois baseball team get to stay in Minneapolis to play in the Tournament, but their first opponent is Minnesota as well. They’ve already proven that they can beat this team. A caveat: Minnesota’s top starter, Tom Windle, will most certainly be ready by Wednesday. Kevin Duchene will be ready. Game time Wednesday is 12 noon. Here is the Fighting Illini Game One preview

For those interested in watching, the Big Ten Baseball Tournament game will be broadcasted by the Big Ten Network.

Illini honored by Big Ten

On the eve of the Big Ten Tournament, the conference announced the recipients of their annual awards and the All-Big Ten teams. The Illini did pretty well this year. The biggest news is that Justin Parr was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Parr, who not only maintained a record breaking 33-game hit streak, also led the Big Ten in hitting (.415), hits (85), and rbis (51). 

Starter Kevin Duchene was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Duchene was 8–1 with a 2.67 ERA (8th in the Big Ten) and had a 1.74 ERA in conference play. 

Parr was joined by firstbaseman David Kerian (.331, 20 SB) and shortstop Thomas Lindauer (9 HR, .310) on the first-team All-Big Ten team. Jordan Parr (.321, 46 runs) and Duchene were both second-team All-Big Team picks. Joining Duchene on the All-Big Ten Freshman team is catcher Jason Goldstein, who led the Big Ten in runners caught stealing in conference play. 

Here is the full list of honorees. A very strong showing for the Illini in my opinion! Congrats to them all! 

Good luck in the Tournament!!!

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