Coming off a dominant weekend in Evanston, the Fighting Illini will host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three-game series at Illinois Field. Winning 15 of its last 17 contests, Illinois sits atop the Big Ten with a 16-5 record (3-0 Big Ten). Iowa comes into the weekend series touting a 14-8 record (1-1 in conference), winning three of its last four contests.
The story in Champaign right now is the play of first baseman Bren Spillane. Aside from batting .474 (1.077 slg%) so far this season, Spillane has amassed 37 hits over 78 plate appearances in 21 games. He was named the “Player of the Week” by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association last weekend, and he is the second-ranked first baseman in the NCAA according to D1baseball.com.
Four other players on the Illini roster are batting over .300 at the moment, but it’s clear that Spillane will be the impact player Illinois needs to make a run at the postseason.
On the mound, the Illinois pitching staff has officially rounded into form. Quinn Snarskis and Ty Weber are producing two of the lowest 15 ERAs of starting pitchers in the Big Ten so far this year, while Andy Fisher has struck out the most batters of any Illinois starter with 22 strikeouts over 5 starts.
The bullpen is starting to fix itself after a couple of rocky outings in later innings, but Ryan Thompson continues to bridge the starting rotation to closer Joey Gerber. Gerber has earned saves so far this season, with Thompson pitching 17 innings in relief.
First pitch tomorrow night is 6 p.m. CT, Saturday’s first pitch is 3 p.m. CT, and Sunday’s first pitch is 2 p.m. CT. All games are available online at BTN2GO, and you can stream the radio broadcast for free at FightingIllini.com.