This past weekend, the Illinois Baseball team won two key conference games against conference opponent Northwestern, putting them in a better position for an automatic bid for the Big Ten Tournament, which takes place in three weeks.
Meanwhile, Justin Parr continues to hit the ball and now has the school record for consecutive games with a hit. His hit streak is now at 28 games, the highest active streak in the NCAA. He is now two shy of the 2013 record of 30 games.
At 3 hours and 27 minutes, Friday’s game against the Northwestern Wildcats was the longest in Coach Hartleb’s tenure here at Illinois. It was a 13-inning affair, and Illinois came back to tie the game before the Wildcats held on for the 4–3 victory. Justin Parr (right) waited for the ninth, but he did get his hit, which extended his hitting streak to 25 games, tying former Illinois outfielder Ryan Snowden for the team record.
Illinois tied the series on Saturday with an all-out rainy day slug fest. Justin Parr didn’t waste too much time in breaking Snowden’s hitting streak record. In the third inning, he hit a dribbler to the shortstop and beat the throw to first. With the record broken, Illinois could focus on adding to the 3–0 lead. They did just that in the fourth inning in which Illinois scored five runs. Meanwhile, John Kravetz was pitching a great game. Kravetz, who has had a couple of off games in the past weekends, struck out seven batters in seven innings and allowed just two runs and got the win, 12–3. He is now 4–1 on the season.
On Sunday, Illinois exploded for four runs in the seventh inning to come from behind to defeat the Wildcats, 5–3. It seems that Justin Parr is not planning to stop at 25 games as he went 2 for 3 with an rbi. Fortunately, Parr already had a hit when he was intentionally walked in the key seventh inning rally. That move backfired on Northwestern anyway as Parr eventually scored. Ronnie Muck got his second win of the season and Bryan Roberts earned his fourth save.
Southern Illinois Salukis came to town on Tuesday, but Jordan Parr was waiting for them. He hit two homers and drove in seven runs in their 11–7 victory over SIU. It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for a while, though. Jordan Parr’s first home run tied the game in the third and his second homer took the lead. SIU still managed to tie it again 8–8. It wasn’t until Thomas Lindauer doubled home the go-ahead run that the Illinois lead was safe. Jordan Parr did come through with an RBI double as part of the four-run rally just in case. Drasen Johnson earned his first win of the series in relief.
By the way, Jordan Parr’s seven RBIs was the highest by any player since Chris Robinson did it in 2004. Also, the top four in Illinois’ lineup (Thomas Lindauer, Michael Hurwitz, Justin Parr, and Jordan Parr) all got three hits. They were a combined 12 for 19 for the game.
Stat of the Week
How good is Justin Parr doing? He is leads the Big Ten in hits (72), total bases (106), triples (4), and batting average (.431). Oh yeah, he’s got this hit streak thing going, too.
Parr’s .431 average ranks second in the nation among Division I teams behind Delaware’s Jimmy Yezzo (.448).
Into the Homestretch
With the conclusion of the game against SIU on Tuesday, there will be only three more home games left at Illinois Field. It seems a little hard to believe that the Penn State series is the extent of the 2013 action left at Illinois Field. Illinois will also face two more opponents on the road starting with Michigan State this weekend.
What are the chances of Illinois getting into the Big Ten Tournament, which starts May 22nd? To review for those not familiar with the Big Ten ground rules, the top six teams in the standings at the end of the season will have the honor of playing in the Big Ten Tournament (and it is indeed an honor this year as it will be played at Minnesota Twins’ Target Field!).
Currently, the Illini are in a tie with Michigan for sixth place (here are the current Big Ten Baseball standings). Both teams have an 8–7 record. Guess who is in fifth place? Yes, it’s Illinois’ opponent this weekend, Michigan State with a 7–5 record. While our guys shouldn’t have any problem with our remaining home series with Penn State (they have languished in last place all year and are 2–13 against conference opponents), winning a few games against the always tough Spartans this weekend would go a long way to ensuring a postseason bid.
Illinois’ last series will be versus current first place Minnesota, who, because of scheduling and weather reasons (it is Minnesota, after all), have only played 12 conference games. Nonetheless, they are 9–3 and they are tough. The fact that the Illini will be finishing the season against the Golden Gophers on their turf will make things challenging for any team.
As mentioned, the Illini will be taking on Michigan State at East Lansing, Michigan, this weekend. Orange and Blue fans planning on attending or following it online, take note. Friday’s game is a bit earlier than normal with a 2:00 p.m. start. Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are both at noon.