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Illini half up, half down at halfway point

Well, we’re at the halfway point in the Big Ten baseball season right now. Illinois (24–12) is twelve conference games in and have twelve left to play. At this point, they have a 6–6 Big Ten record and sit in the precarious seventh place one spot below where they need to be at the end of the season to advance to the Big Ten Tournament. The good news? They still have two juicy series left against Northwestern (17–14, 6–9 Big Ten) and Penn State (11–25, 2–10). The downside? Illinois will have to finish the season against first place Minnesota who are now 7–2 in the conference.

Do I dare say it? This upcoming series against Northwestern is a big one. 

Weekend Wrapup

Any extra win against Ohio State this past weekend could very well make a difference. They got off to a great start last weekend with a terrific performance by Kevin Johnson (above). Not only did Johnson take a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but he also took over the #1 spot in all-time innings pitched by an Illini hurler. Four outs into the game, he passed former Illini Mark Dressen’s mark of 328 2/3 innings and finished the game with 333 innings.  

Top Illini pitchers in career innings pitched

  1. Kevin Johnson– 333
  2. Mark Dressen– 328 2/3
  3. Brett Weber– 315 2/3
  4. Drew Dickinson– 304 2/3

With the help of Justin Parr’s three-run triple, his fourth of the year, the Illini cruised to a 92 victory, giving Johnson his sixth win of the year. 

Saturday’s game was one of the biggest heartbreakers of the year for the Illini. They got off to a 3–0 lead and had the lead as late as the fifth. They even tied the game in the seventh inning. However, Bryan Roberts suffered his first loss of the season as he gave up his first run of the year when the Buckeyes scored the winning run in the 10th inning.  Justin Parr, Jordan Parr, David Kerian, and Davis Hendrickson all had multi-hit games in the 76 loss.

Again, on Sunday, Illinois grabbed the lead early, but couldn’t hold on. After scoring two runs in the first, Ohio State rallied for six runs in the second against freshman Ryan Castellanos and that made the difference in the 73 loss to the Buckeyes. Thomas Lindauer collected three hits and Justin Parr rapped two hits. 

Streaking Justin Parr

In case you haven’t heard, Justin Parr (right) is on quite a streak. He’s hit safely in 24 straight games, which is one short of the team record held by former Illini outfielder Ryan Snowden. 

Most consecutive games hit safely by an Illini

  1. Ryan Snowden 25 games (2/25/07–4/14/07)
  2. Justin Parr 24 games (3/9/13–present)
  3. Tom Sinak 23 games (4/17/94–3/5/95)

Currently, Parr is hitting .435 — tops in the Big Ten. His 24-game hitting streak is also the longest active hitting streak in NCAA baseball. He will get his chance to tie the all-time school record at Illinois Field this coming Friday against Northwestern. 

Illini Baseball News of Note

For the second year in a row, Thomas Lindauer (above) was named to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year watch list. Currently, Lindauer is tied for the lead in the Big Ten with eight home runs. He joins fellow Big Ten players Kirby Pellant of Ohio State and Michael Basil of Indiana on the elite list of shortstops

During the last two home series, the Illinois Baseball program will help support the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. From

Donation bins will be set out at Illinois Field on April 27–28 during the Northwestern series and May 11–12 during the Penn State series. Fans can support the cause by bringing food donations to the game…

All food collected will go to fight hunger in the fourteen counties in the eastern Illinois area. So if you’re coming to these games, bring some food.    

Speaking of good causes, this Sunday’s game has been designated as “Honor and Serve Day,” and proceeds from the auctions of the jerseys will go to Roundhouse, which serves youth and helps reunite them safely with their families.

Next up

This weekend, it’s the Northwestern Wildcats who are coming to town. The ‘Cats are 17–14 for the season, but they’ve stumbled a bit against Big Ten teams. Specifically, they took it on the chin against now first place Minnesota Golden Gophers, losing all three two weeks ago. Northwestern’s 6–9 record puts them one spot below Illinois in the standings. It’s wide gap though, and it will take some big series wins for the Wildcats to make a run for the Tournament at this point. 

That all said, don’t underestimate them. They are third in hitting in the Big Ten (.285 behind Indiana and Illinois) and fourth in pitching (3.05 ERA behind Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio State). They obviously have the talent, but the timing hasn’t been there. Look out for Kyle Ruchim, too. He’s third in the Big Ten in hitting with a .390 average. 

As usual, there are three games this weekend. Friday night’s game starts at 6 p.m.  On Saturday, it’s a 3 p.m. mid-afternoon affair, and the series will wrap up on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Go Illini!! 

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