Oct 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; General view of Busch Stadium before game four of the 2012 NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Baseball: Missouri Game Preview

The Illinois Fighting Illini will play a one game series against the Missouri Tigers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis later this evening.

The Illini comes into Tuesday’s game after winning their series against Oakland, 3-1. Illinois won the first three, but gave the Golden Grizzlies the fourth. Game two featured a 21-8 Illinois win where they scored 21 runs on 18 hits and were walked thirteen times.

Missouri comes into Tuesday game with an overall record of 9-15 and were swept by the #2 LSU Tigers in their last series.

The best hitters for Missouri are catcher Dylan Kelly and outfielder Dane Opel.

They are the only players on the Mizzou roster to have a batting average over .300 and both have double-digit hits and RBIs. Kelly could be seen as the “slightly” better hitter, but comparing the two is pointless. Kelly has more hits (29) and the higher average (.363) while Opel has more runs (14) and walks (10).

As an entire unit, the Missouri Tigers have a batting average of .246.

The Tigers will be sending right handed pitcher Jace James to the mound for Tuesday’s game. James is arguably Missouri’s best starter this season.

He has pitched in eight games in 2013, but has only started four. He is 2-0 in his four starts and has an earned run average (ERA) of 1.05.

He’s only given up nineteen hits, but has walked twelve batters.

As Illinois proved in their second game against Oakland, their biggest strength this season has been the offense.

The Fighting Illini are lead offensively by Justin ParrMichael Hurwitz, and David Kerian.

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.

Kerian has the best slugging percentage on the team (.462) and has stolen the most bases with twelve on the season (has not been caught stealing).

Illinois will be sending left handed pitcher Rob McDonnell to the mound on Tuesday (his first start of the season).

McDonnell has an ERA of 1.42 and has pitched 6.1 innings in 2013. In those innings, he has given up six hits and one run. He has also walked six batters and struck out two.

This will be the 23rd meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Tigers. Missouri leads the series 13-9-1. Illinois lost to the Tigers, 5-4, in last year’s meeting between the two teams. The Illini have also lost the last five games.

Illinois should be able to ride their offensive success to a win tonight, but it will all depend on how McDonnell pitches.

This might be his first start of 2013, but McDonnell did start for the Illini last season before he got injured. As long as McDonnell can keep the nerves down from 1) it being his first start and 2) pitching at Busch Stadium, then he should do fine and the Illini should be able to get the win.

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Tags: Baseball Busch Stadium Dane Opel Dylan Kelly Illinois Fighting Illini Justin Parr Michael Hurwitz Missouri Tigers

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