The Illinois baseball team takes on Purdue at 4 p.m. today at Illinois Field in the first of a three-game series to open Big Ten play.
TEAMS: Illinois (12-10, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Purdue (4-16, 0-0 Big Ten).
SCHEDULE: 4 p.m. today; 3 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Illinois Field.
RADIO: WDWS 1400-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) with analysts Ben Taylor (Friday), Scott Beatty (Saturday and Sunday).
SERIES RECORD: Illinois leads 157-79-1.
LAST MEETING: The Illini swept a three-game series April 12-14, 2013 at Illinois Field, scoring 17 runs each in Games 1 and 3.
COACHES: Illinois — Dan Hartleb, ninth season (256-209, 113-100 Big Ten); Purdue — Doug Schreiber, 16th season (445-413, 213-203 Big Ten).
TOP ILLINI HITTERS: C Jason Goldstein (.408, 5 2B, .521 slg. pct.); LF Ryan Nagle (.349, 5 2B, 19 RBI); CF Will Krug (.289, 12-15 SB).
TOP BOILERMAKERS HITTERS: C Sean McHugh (.333, 6 2b, 3 HR, .519 slg. pct.); RF Conner Hudnall (.275, 7 2B, 14 RBI); 1B Kyle Wood (.260, 6 2B).
PROBABLE ILLINI STARTERS: RH Drasen Johnson (2-3, 3.09 ERA); RH Ryan Castellanos (2-1, 4.00); LH Rob McDonnell (1-0, 2.89).
PROBABLE BOILERMAKERS STARTERS: LH Jordan Minch (0-4, 6.42); RH Gavin Downs (1-2, 3.90); TBA
SETTING THE SCENE: Illinois enters on a four-game winning streak, matching its longest of the season. During that stretch, the Illini have held opponents to two or fewer runs in every game. Illinois’ bullpen has been particularly sharp in the last three games, not allowing a run in 17 1/3 innings while striking out 19. ... Illini shortstop Adam Walton, who went hitless in his first 20 at-bats of the season, has been on a tear since breaking through Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader against Xavier. The sophomore is 7 of 13 in his last four games. ... After going 4 for 4 Wednesday against Illinois State, Illini catcher Jason Goldstein has raised his batting average to .408. The sophomore hit .231 last season in 43 games, including 42 starts. ... Junior right-hander John Kravetz (2-1, 4.07), who has started five games this season, is not in the rotation this weekend. In his place is redshirt junior Rob McDonnell, who is scheduled to make his third start of 2014. Illini coach Dan Hartleb said it was a coach’s decision and that Kravetz is available to pitch. On Saturday, Kravetz held Xavier to two runs in eight innings. ... As its record indicates, it’s been mighty tough season for Purdue. However, three of the Boilermakers’ four victories have come in their last five games. ... Purdue enters the weekend ranked last in the Big Ten in batting average (.228) and ERA (6.97). The Boilers do lead the conference in fielding percentage (.979), with a league-high 24 double plays. ... One factor in Purdue’s record is its ambitious schedule. According to Boydsworld.com, the Boilers were No. 2 nationally in strength of schedule through Wednesday’s games. Purdue has played a total of 13 games against Tennessee, Rice, LSU and San Diego State — all of which currently are or have been ranked.