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Series Preview: No. 6 Illinois vs Rutgers

The streaking Illini will attempt to extend their program-record winning streak to 24 games this weekend.

Thomas Nelshoppen of Illinois Baseball Report

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No. 6 Illinois (40-6-1) vs Rutgers (17-31-1)

Location: Illinois Field | Champaign, IL

Friday, May 8th | 6:00pm CT
Saturday, May 9th | 3:00pm CT
Sunday, May 10th | 11:00am CT

Radio: WDWS AM 1400
Live Video ($): FridaySaturdaySunday
Gametracker: FridaySaturdaySunday

Opposing SB Nation SiteOn The Banks
Rutgers

The No. 6 Illinois Fighting Illini (40-6-1) will look to continue their historic season this weekend as they welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (17-31-1) to town. This will be the first-ever series between the two schools, but they did face each other once back in 1989.

Starting Pitchers:

Friday:

  • No. 6 Illinois: Jr. LHP Kevin Duchene (8-1, 0.78 ERA)
  • Rutgers: Jr. LHP Howie Brey (2-6, 5.79 ERA)

Saturday:

  • No. 6 Illinois: r-Sr. RHP Drasen Johnson (7-2, 2.28 ERA)
  • Rutgers: Jr. LHP Mark McCoy (2-7, 5.79 ERA)

Sunday:

  • No. 6 Illinois: Sr. RHP John Kravetz (4-0, 3.02 ERA)
  • Rutgers: So. RHP Gaby Rosa (1-5, 6.28 ERA)

Dan Hartleb's squad currently sits atop the Big Ten standings thanks in part to a program-record 21-game winning streak. The Illini have logged a .297 batting average during this incredible run while outscored their opponents by a total margin of 161-65. The most impressive victories during this span came last weekend when Illinois marched into Columbus and swept the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (33-13).

Rutgers, on the other hand, has had a rough first season as a member of the Big Ten; they've lost five of their last six games and haven't won a single conference matchup since early April. Sophomore OF Tom Marcinczyk appears to be the Scarlet Knights' best hitter as he's batting .330 (.416 OB%) and has a team-high 5 home runs on the year. Freshman RHP John O'Reilly looks like the staff's 'ace' with a 3.00 ERA in 57.0 innings pitched, but he's not scheduled to make a start this series.

Illinois' magic number to clinch the Big Ten regular season title is down to 5; at 16-1, their biggest threat at the moment is second place Iowa (15-3). The Hawkeyes are in Minneapolis this weekend for a three game series against Minnesota (19-26).

Anything can happen in Baseball, but it'd be shocking if Illinois can't extend their winning streak to 24 games this weekend.

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