June 3, 2011; Fullerton, CA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini players rub their hats for good luck against the Cal State Fullerton Titans during the first inning of the Fullerton regional of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Goodwin Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Baseball: Baylor Series Preview


The Illinois Fighting Illini will play a three game series against the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas starting on March 7th. One game will be on Friday, March 7th and there will be a doubleheader on Saturday, March 8th.

This will be the Illini’s second trip to Texas since March 3rd. Last weekend, they were in Arlington, Texas for the UTA/Hilton Invitational. They went 3-1 during the invitational and ended it with a 6-5 loss to Texas-Arlington.

The Baylor Bears are coming into this series with an overall record of 7-6 and a home record of 5-2. They swept Louisiana Tech in a two game series.

June 3, 2011; Fullerton, CA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini pitcher Kevin Johnson (22) pitches against the Cal State Fullerton Titans during the first inning of the Fullerton regional of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Goodwin Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The best hitter for Baylor coming into the series is Nathan Orf. Orf leads the team in batting average (.583), hits (23), slugging percentage (.583), and on-base percentage (.561). He has also scored ten runs this season (tied for first on the team).

Another player that is a good hitter for the Bears is Cal Towey. Towey is fourth on the team in batting average, but leads the team with sixteen RBIs. If there are runners in scoring position, one can bet that Towey will bat them in.

The Fighting Illini are lead offensively by Justin ParrMichael Hurwitz, and Jordan Parr.

Justin Parr leads the team with a .479 batting average. However, all three players have double-digit hits. Jordan Parr and Michael Hurwitz both have double-digit runs.

There are also three players for Illinois that have double-digit RBIs coming into the series. Jordan Parr leads the team with 14 RBIs while Justin Parr (13) and Thomas Lindauer (10) are right behind him on the team.

Here are the pitching match-ups coming into the series:

Game One – Illinois: Kevin Johnson (RHP, Sr., 2-1, 3.44 ERA) / Baylor: Dillion Newman (RHP, Jr., 2-0, 1.62 ERA)

Game Two - Illinois: Nick Blackburn (RHP, Fr., 2-0, 3.57 ERA) / Baylor: Max Garner (RHP, Sr., 1-2, 2.79 ERA)

Game Three - Illinois: John Kravetz (RHP, So., 1-0, 5.91 ERA) / Baylor: Austin Stone (RHP, So., 0-1, 6.43 ERA)

Illinois and Baylor have only played each other twice in the past. The series is tied at one game a piece. Their last meeting ended in the 20-6 Baylor win on February 29th, 2008.

It is still early in the season, but the Fighting Illini are looking good early on. The offense is hot for Illinois, but the pitching has struggled in some games.

In their last game, John Kravetz was on the mound, but was pulled after 4.1 innings. During those innings, he gave up six hits, five runs, and walked three batters.

Game One will be the toughest game of the series for Illinois. However, the series finale will be one to watch. Game Three will feature two pitchers that are looking to get things going. If Kravetz can get things going in that game, the Illini should be able to ride their offensive strength to a 2-1 series win.

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Tags: Baseball Baylor Bears Illinois Fighting Illini Justin Parr Michael Hurwitz Popular