June 5, 2011; Fullerton, CA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini outfielder Willie Argo (42) smiles after the Fighting Illini beat the Cal State Fullerton Titans 7-5 in the Fullerton regional of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Goodwin Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Baseball: Oakland Series Preview

The Illinois Fighting Illini will play a four game series against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in Champaign, Illinois starting on March 29th. They will play one game on March 29th and March 31st with a doubleheader on March 30th.

This series against Oakland will be Illinois’ first series in almost a week. After their conference series against Nebraska, they were suppose to play the Illinois State Redbirds for a one-game series, but the game was cancelled.

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies are coming into this series with an overall record of 3-15 and a road record of 2-14. They were swept by Michigan State in their last series.

June 5, 2011; Fullerton, CA, USA; A detailed view of a composite barreled bat that meets the new NCAA guidelines as of January 2011 before the start of a game between the Cal State Fullerton Titans and the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Fullerton regional of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Goodwin Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The best hitters for Oakland coming into the series are Kyle Bobolts and Jared Theisen.

They have the best averages on the team with .260 and .258 respectively. They also are the best at batting runs in for the Golden Grizzlies. Theisen leads the team in RBIs with eight. The only downside to Theisen is that he has 14 strikeouts on the season.

As an entire team, Oakland has 124 strikeouts this season.

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

Justin Parr leads the team with a .500 batting average, 33 hits, and 22 RBIs. Hurwitz is the best on the team at getting on base. He leads the Illini with fifteen walks this season.

The entire offense for Illinois has been alive this season. All of the starters for the Fighting Illini are hitting over .250 and have over twenty hits each.

They had a nice offensive performance against Nebraska, but lost two out of three because of the pitching.

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

Game One – Illinois: Kevin Johnson (RHP, Sr., 3-1, 2.33 ERA) / Oakland: Jason Hager (LHP, r-Jr., 0-3, 5.23 ERA)

Game Two – Illinois: Kevin Duchene (LHP, Fr., 2-0, 3.98 ERA) / Oakland: Jake Paulson (RHP, r-So., 0-3, 2.81 ERA)

Game Three – Illinois: John Kravetz (RHP, So., 2-0, 4.15 ERA) / Oakland: Tim Koons (RHP, Jr., 2-3, 3.15 ERA)

Game Four – Illinois: Nick Blackburn (RHP, Fr., 2-0, 4.44 ERA) / Oakland: Chris Van Dyke (RHP, So., 1-2, 6.48 ERA)

This will be the first meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Golden Grizzlies in school history.

It is easy to say that Illinois shouldn’t have a problem sweeping the Golden Grizzlies this series, but the teams still need to play the games. Anything can happen.

Illinois has the upper hand though and it is all because of their offense. The teams is hitting .300 with six home runs and outscoring its opponents 122-85.

Illinois is also 9-0 when leading after 7 innings, 10-1 when out-hitting its opponent, and 9-1 when its starter gets the decision.

If their is any of the four games I could see Illinois losing, it would be Game Three. Tim Koons is the best starter on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies this year and could come out and throw a pretty good game. However, this offense for the Fighting Illini seems to be cooking and it will be very hard for Oakland to slow the Illini down.

In the end, Illinois should be able to get the sweep.

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Tags: Baseball Illinois Fighting Illini Justin Parr Michael Hurwitz Oakland Golden Grizzlies

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