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Illinois faces Rutgers as Illini look for second straight series win

Winning three of their last for games, the Illini host the Knights for a three-game series.

Sohum Nagi

Recently dropping to third in the conference standings, the Fighting Illini are looking to continue their push to the postseason as they host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (18-11, 4-2) for a three-game weekend series.

Coming off a win over Illinois State on Tuesday, the Illini (20-8, 6-3) will start Andy Fisher (3-0), Quinn Snarskis (3-1) and Ty Weber (3-1) on the mound.

Snarskis did not get a start in the Iowa series, and was roughed up in his appearance out of the bullpen in two innings. He surrendered five hits, six earned runs and walked two batters in a 13-12 win for the Illini. His last four starts have been outstanding though, with a 1.50 ERA and a 3-0 record, averaging a little over six innings of work.

Ty Weber and Andy Fisher have been reliable starters all season long, and a consistent performance from Snarskis could be just what the doctor ordered for the Illinois pitching staff.

In relief, Ryan Thompson and Joey Gerber have been the foundation of the Illinois bullpen. Thompson as a long reliever has been responsible for six wins across 12 appearances, striking out 27 batters and only allowing 16 hits. Gerber in the closer role has been DEALING so far, striking out 22 batters with only nine hits surrendered in 14 total appearances. As we approach the back-half of the Big Ten season, bridging the starting pitcher to these two in the bullpen will be key to securing wins for Illinois.

Speaking of securing wins, the Illini have an RPI ranking of 29 at this point in the season. Their remaining non-conference schedule is not doing them any favors, which means the Illini are going to need to win at least three of their five Big Ten series to have an NCAA Tournament worthy resume.

Rutgers is this weekend (143), which precedes road trip to Indiana in two weeks (16), followed by a home series against Ohio State (44), then a road series at Michigan (62, 6-0 in Big Ten play), concluded with a series at home with Nebraska (101). Conference standings aside, taking 2 of 3 games from three of those teams will all but secure a spot for the Illini in the NCAA tournament.

First pitch of Friday’s game is 6 p.m. and every game this weekend is available on BTN2GO’s online streaming site. You can also listen to every radio broadcast of Illinois baseball at FightingIllini.com no matter where you are.

Remember, every game at Illinois Field is free admission, and be on the lookout for complimentary in-game promotions! (Sunday is Super Hero Day, where everyone gets a mask of Bren Spillane’s face.)