CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The season opener is less than three weeks away for the Illinois baseball team. The orange and blue are as confident as they have been in quite some time. They return basically their entire starting lineup and starting rotation. If the first day of practice is any indication, they're already ahead of the game. "Usually your first day back at things there's a number of errors, things you have to clean up," said head coach Dan Hartleb. "We were sharp. Again it's just a good group of guys that have done a very good job in the offseason. They believe that we have an opportunity to win at a high level, and now we just have to put in the work and get our jobs done." Illinois starts the season on the road February 13th. Their home opener is March 10th.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Kyle Hudson is already on campus and getting down to work as the newest volunteer assistant coach for Illinois baseball team. He was hired last week. The former Illini two-sport star and Mattoon grad has been in professional baseball since 2008, and he said he thought the time was right to call it quits and pass along his knowledge as a coach for the first time. "It was kind of quiet as far as organizations coming to me and asking me to play for them," Hudson said of his decision to retire. "Coach Hartleb gave me a call a couple weeks ago and said his volunteer assistant was leaving for a different job, and he asked if I wanted to possibly do that while I'm going back to school, and I thought it was just a great opportunity."
Illinois improved to 7-1 Saturday after beating American 70-55. Malcolm Hill had a team high 13 points. The Illini play Villanova in New York City Tuesday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - The Fighting Illini baseball team will have an exciting opportunity to take a foreign tour trip to the Dominican Republic in November. The trip runs from Nov. 22-29 during the University of Illinois' Thanksgiving break week and includes games against multiple Dominican Summer League (DSL) teams. NCAA regulations allow teams to make foreign trips once every four years and this will be Illinois' first one taken in the modern era. "We are really excited about the opportunity to take our players to the Dominican Republic," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "I have been able to travel to the Dominican over the past two summers, and it has been interesting to see the work ethic and desire for the game of baseball in their culture. From a baseball standpoint, we are going to be playing some of the best players in the world at that age level. Each organization in Major League Baseball has a Dominican complex, so it will give us the chance to play eight games. All of our players will be able to play during the week, and it will help our development as we prepare for the 2015 season."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois LHP Tyler Jay had the opportunity of a lifetime this summer. He had the chance to play with the USA Collegiate National Team. And he didn't just play on the team; he was arguably USA's best pitcher. Jay led the team with 15 appearances. He went 2-0 with a perfect 0.00 era and 21 strikeouts in 16.2 IP. This was against countries like Japan, Cuba, Netherlands and Chinese Taipei. Jay will come back to the Illinois bullpen next spring, and head coach Dan Hartleb expects Jay to be better than ever.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team's newest assistant coach, Spencer Allen, was in town and on the job Monday. Allen has 12 years of coaching experience, including stints with Purdue, Washington State and most recently Creighton. He is known as a top-notch recruiter, and he is ready to hit the ground running.
Illinois junior-to-be Tyler Jay is one of 24 players on the USA national collegiate team this summer. Jay was one of four pitchers to help the United States no-hit the Netherlands earlier this summer.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb has a valuable position to fill on his staff with the news that associate head coach Eric Snider has taken a job at Louisville. The Cardinals announced Tuesday that Snider will become their new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - One Illinois player was drafted in last weekend's Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, and head coach Dan Hartleb thinks he has a chances to have a long professional career. Illinois senior relief pitcher Ronnie Muck was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the 30th round of the draft on Saturday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - While 64 teams prepare for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb is looking ahead to next season after his team was left on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament picture. Illinois was not selected for the field on Monday despite a strong resume.
The Illinois baseball team was not one of the 64 teams selected to participate in the NCAA tournament. The Illini finish the season with a 32-21 record.
OMAHA, Neb. (UI Release) - After the start of the Thursday's game was pushed back an hour and a half due to a rain delay, No. 3 Illinois (32-20) knocked No. 7 Ohio State (30-28) out of the Big Ten Tournament with a 6-5 victory at TD Ameritrade Park. The Illini never trailed and saw their offense come alive with every player in the lineup recording a hit for their second-highest output this season (15).
OMAHA, Neb. (UI Release) - No. 3 Illinois' comeback streak against No. 6 Michigan State came to an end on Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament opener, falling 2-1 to the Spartans at TD Ameritrade Park. Starter Drasen Johnson tied his career high with 10 strikeouts, but the Illini offense left 12 men on base and only scored on a bases-loaded walk.
OMAHA, Neb. - The Illinois baseball team's postseason journey begins Wednesday in the same place where the college baseball postseason ends - at T.D. AmeriTrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, the site of the College World Series. For Illinois, it's the first round of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday morning against Michigan State.
Illinois lost to Nebraska 7-4. The Illini will be the three-seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
LINCOLN, Neb. (UI Release) - Sophomore Kevin Duchene looked back to his old form on Friday night, helping Illinois even the series with Nebraska and move back into a tie for second place in the Big Ten with a 5-1 victory. Duchene (3-1) earned his first win since March 14 and retired 14 in a row at one point while only allowing one run in six innings. Sophomore Adam Walton went 3-for-4 and belted his first career home run to put the Illini in front.
LINCOLN, Neb. (UI Release) - The Illini came up on the wrong end of a pitcher's duel on Thursday night, dropping the opener to No. 28 Nebraska, 2-1, at Haymarket Park. Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson (5-6) threw his second career eight-inning complete game, but suffered the loss for the second time this year while doing so. Illinois struck out 12 times and only managed three hits, equaling its season low.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team (30-17) will take a seven-game winning streak into its last Big Ten series of the year at Nebraska this weekend. By all accounts Illinois needs to win at least two out of three to feel good about earning an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (UI Release) - Illini pitchers Drasen Johnson and Tyler Jay shined on the mound and junior Casey Fletcher turned in his third straight game-winning hit in Illinois' 4-1 victory over Iowa. Johnson allowed one run in the first inning before he and Jay followed it with eight scoreless stanzas. Fletcher blooped a go-ahead two-out, two-run single in the sixth that propelled Illinois to its fifth straight win.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team starts its second-to-last Big Ten series of the year Friday night at Iowa with the Illini currently tied for second place in the league. lllinois' main goal right now is to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume. By most accounts the Illini are just outside the bubble right now, but they have plenty of opportunities to play their way in.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois ace Kevin Duchene was back on the hill for the Illini last weekend, and the sophomore expects to provide a big boost for the Orange and Blue down the stretch. Duchene pitched for the first time in a month-and-a-half against Michigan State on Sunday, allowing just one run in three innings. He threw just 44 pitches, 33 for strikes, as he works his way back from a strained forearm. Head coach Dan Hartleb was pleased with the way Duchene threw, and he expects his ace to start again on Sunday at Iowa.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball community is still buzzing about the week that outfielder Casey Fletcher had for the Orange and Blue. In four games, Fletcher hit .471 with five home runs, 10 RBI and two walk-off hits. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten takes a look back at a week to remember for the Oakwood grad.
Casey Fletcher hit another walk-off hit Sunday as the Illini completed the sweep of Michigan State. It capped a huge week for the Illini junior.
Casey Fletcher hit two home runs and had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning helping the Illini defeat Michigan State 5-4.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - After a pitcher's duel for the first seven innings, Michigan State took a 4-2 lead with a three-run eighth, but Illinois responded with its own three-run eighth to battle back and win the series opener, 5-4. Junior David Kerian plated sophomore Adam Walton as the tying run on a two-out RBI triple and scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior Casey Fletcher had a career night, belting three home runs, to lead Illinois past SIU 10-1 Wednesday night at Illinois Field. Fletcher entered the game with only one home run all season, but he left the yard in the third, sixth and seventh innings. The Oakwood grad finished with a season-high five RBI. "I'm just kind of taking it in right now," Fletcher said. "I wasn't trying [to hit home runs]. I was just sticking with my approach, and I just put good swings on it. I got pitches I could pull and just hit it out." Fletcher's three home runs are one shy of Illinois' all-time record (Bubba Smith, 4). He is the first Illinois player to hit three homers in a game since Willie Argo did it March 7, 2009 at No. 1 LSU.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team is hoping to get it's best pitcher Kevin Duchene back sooner rather than later. Duchene has been out since March 14 with a strained left forearm. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year is 2-1 with a 1.70 ERA in limited work this season, and while there hasn't been an official date set for his return, Duchene is hoping it's soon.
Darrin Fletcher, a former MLB player is keeping a close eye on his son Casey. He's a junior outfielder with the Illini.
Indiana baseball defeated the Illini 11-3 Sunday. The game was called in the 9th due to rain.
The Illinois baseball team knocked off No. 13 Indiana 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Illinois Field.
Indiana led 6-1 in the third and pulled away to beat Illinois 9-3 Friday night at Illinois Field in Champaign.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill - The Illinois baseball team is getting ready for what could be it's biggest series in years. The Illini are in second place in the Big Ten, with first place Indiana coming to Champaign for a three-game series this weekend. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - Illinois (22-15) couldn't get the bats going on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, falling 5-2 to Missouri (19-21) and snapping its four-game winning streak. The Tigers only mustered five hits and two of their five runs were unearned, while the Illini had six hits, led by freshman Ryne Roper who went 2-for-3. "This is always a great experience to play at a big league ballpark, but we didn't get our jobs done tonight," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We had advantage counts and didn't put good swings on pitches. We didn't have a very composed night at the plate. We need to get deeper in counts and get their pitch total up. We made some mistakes and will need to be better on Friday."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - Illinois picked up its fourth straight win behind a strong pitching performance in a 3-2 victory over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday. Starter Rob McDonnell improved to 3-0 with two hits and two runs allowed in five innings, redshirt-sophomore Andrew Mamlic gave up one hit in three shutout stanzas and closer Tyler Jay registered his sixth save after surrendering two hits in the ninth.
The Illinois baseball team found a Sasquatch statue a few weeks ago at junior outfielder Will Krug's house. They took it with them and have carried it to every game since.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois first baseman David Kerian is one of only five players on the roster from outside the state, but the transition hasn't slowed him down. In fact, as WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten reports, Kerian has emerged as one of the top hitters for an Illini team looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
BASEBALL: ISU 6 Illinois 2 (F)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - There is still no word yet on when Illinois ace Kevin Duchene will be back on the mound. Duchene hasn't pitched in nearly a month because of a strained left forearm. Head coach Dan Hartleb is being cautious with his ace, who is 2-1 with a 1.70 ERA. Even without Duchene, the rest of the staff has stepped up. Their 2.80 team ERA is second best in the Big Ten. They're coming off a weekend sweep at Northwestern, where the Illini pitchers allowed only two runs in three games.
Illinois sophomore pitcher Ryan Castellanos is looking up to his big brother Nick, who is the Detroit Tigers' starting third baseman and the team's top prospect.
The Illinois baseball team will send Ryan Castellanos to the hill against Northwestern Saturday in Evanston. Castellanos is the only pitcher in the country to have thrown at least 27 innings without issuing a single walk. Castellanos (3-1, 3.33 ERA) has helped anchor a pitching staff, which has the second best ERA in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN - Illinois is playing some pretty good baseball lately. They have won six of their last seven games. Their only during that span was by one run. The Illini will start a series at Northwestern Friday as they look to keeping things rolling.
The Illinois baseball team will get a rare opportunity Wednesday night. Weather permitting, they are scheduled to play against Missouri at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It has become nearly an annual tradition for the Illini and Tigers, but the players will tell you it never gets old. This will be the fourth time in the last five years they have played at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and head coach Dan Hartleb wants his team to enjoy the moment.
The Illinois baseball team beat Purdue 6-2 Saturday afternoon at Illinois Field in Champaign.
The Illinois baseball program has had a number of successful brothers over the years - most recently Josh, Justin and Jordan Parr. But a new pair of brothers have found their way into the starting lineup this year. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on Reid and Ryne Roper, and the instant chemistry they brought to the U of I infield.
Illinois baseball beats Illinois State 6-1. Illini softball splits doubleheader with No. 16 Missouri.
The Illinois baseball team won both games of a double header Saturday against Xavier 6-1 and 6-2. The Illini softball team split a pair of games. The Illini lost the first 10-7, but won the second 4-3 in extra innings.
BASEBALL Xavier 6 Illinois 2 (F) SOFTBALL Iowa 4 Illinois 3 (F/9)
The Illinois baseball team defeated Indiana State 8-0 Tuesday.
One big positive for the Illinois baseball team so far this season has been the play of their ace Kevin Duchene. His 1.70 ERA is third best in the Big Ten, but he's been even better lately. The sophomore has only allowed 2 ER in his last 23.2 IP, and he has gone the distance in two of his last three starts. Head coach Dan Hartleb calls Duchene a "special pitcher," and he credits a new pitch he has added to his increased success.
SOFTBALL Illinois 13 W. Michigan 1 F/5 BASEBALL Illinois 5 SIU 1 F