Big Ten lead on the line
A breakdown of this weekend's series vs. Indiana:
TEAMS: Illinois (22-15, 9-3 Big Ten) vs. Indiana (26-11, 11-1 Big Ten).
WHERE: Illinois Field, Champaign.
RADIO: WDWS 1400-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and analysts Scott Beatty (today, Saturday) and Loren Tate (Sunday).
SERIES RECORD: Illinois leads 111-73-1. LAST MEETING: The Illini won 3-2 on April 7, 2013, at Bloomington, Ind., to end the Hoosiers’ NCAA-best 16-game winning streak. In the process, Illinois handed the eventual Big Ten champions their first conference defeat and avoided being swept in the three-game series. Then-senior center fielder Justin Parr went 4 for 4 with a home run and scored what proved to be the winning run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly.
Coaches: Illinois — Dan Hartleb, ninth season (266-214, 122-104 Big Ten); Indiana — Tracy Smith, ninth season (269-233, 117-109 Big Ten).
6 p.m. today — Indiana’s Joey DeNato (8-1, 2.12) vs. Illinois’ Drasen Johnson (4-4, 2.30 ERA)
3 p.m. Saturday — Indiana’s Christian Morris (2-2, 2.49) vs. Illinois RH John Kravetz (4-1, 3.00)
1 p.m. Sunday — Indiana’s Brian Korte (0-0, 1.77) vs. Illinois’ Ryan Castellanos (4-2, 4.43)
TOP ILLINI HITTERS: C Jason Goldstein (.333, 8 2B, 21 RBI); CF Will Krug (.331, 18 RBI, 16-22 SB); 1B David Kerian (.311, 10 2B, 22 RBI, .444 slg. pct.).
TOP HOOSERS HITTERS: 3B Dustin DeMuth (.367, 5 HR, .446 on-base pct.); 1B Sam Travis (.355, 10 2B, 37 rbi); C/OF Kyle Schwarber (.329, 10 2B, 6 HR, .562 slg. pct.)
SETTING THE SCENE: Indiana has won its last eight Big Ten road games, including back-to-back series sweeps this season of Ohio State and Iowa, The streak dates back to the end of the 2013 regular season. ... Illinois is off to its best 12-game Big Ten start since 2005, when it opened 9-3 in the conference race. The ‘05 Illini went on to win the league title and, coincidentally, played a series against the Hoosiers following that 9-3 start. Illinois won three of four at Indiana. ... Tonight’s game marks the start of a seven-game home stand for Illinois. Earlier this season, the Illini had a nine-game home stand and went 7-2. After facing the Hoosiers, Illinois will play host to Southern Illinois on Tuesday (6 p.m.) before Michigan State visits Illinois Field May 2-4. Unless the Illini schedule further home games, the MSU series will mark the final time they play at Illinois Field this season. Illinois enters tonight with a 9-4 home record. ... Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth leads all NCAA active hitters — regardless of division — with 284 career hits. ... Dan Hartleb is within two wins of tying Tom Dedin (1979-87) for fourth place on the Illini list for career baseball coaching wins. The top three are Lee Eilbracht (518 from 1952-78), Itch Jones (474 from 1991-2005) and George Huff (314 from 1896-1919)... The UI athletic department announced this week the establishment of the Lee and Euline Eilbracht Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Illini baseball program. The fund was formed through a donation from the family of the late Illini coach and wife Euline, who taught at the UI from 1953-74.
DID YOU KNOW? Brad James, the father of Illini freshman first baseman Matthew James, played in the Atlanta Braves’ minor league system from 1991 to ’92.