Baseball hosts Illini in weekend clash
Baseball hosts Illini in weekend clash
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State baseball team hosts Illinois in a matchup of the Big Ten’s number three and four teams in the standings entering the weekend. The series will begin with a game on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday for game two. The three-game set will wrap up on Easter with the series finale starting at noon on Sunday.
Promotions: The Penn State baseball program has a number of special events this weekend to go along with the three games. Friday evening’s game marks Military and Local Wounded Warrior Appreciation Night. Fans will receive free camo wristbands at the gate and any military member or veteran gets four free tickets when he or she displays proper military identification. There will also be an ROTC Contracting Ceremony after the third inning. Saturday will be Little League Day. Any Little League member wearing his or her jersey can purchase a ticket for just $1. Following the game there will be an autograph session and an Easter egg hunt for all children ages 13 and under.
Follow the Games Live: This weekend’s games will have a number of options in ways fans can follow the action. Sunday’s games will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. The games can be listened to live on State College ESPN 1450 or can be heard on GoPSUsports.com. Fans can also follow along with the GameTracker found on GoPSUsports.com, which allows users to get up to the minute stats and plays from the game.
All-Time Series vs. Illinois: Penn State holds a narrow edge in the all-time series between the Nittany Lions and the Fighting Illini with a record of 29-27. Each team has won five games in the last 10 meetings and Penn State has come out on top in the last four games played in Happy Valley. The Illini claimed wins in all three games last season, earning a sweep in Champaign, Ill.
Illinois at a Glance: The Illini come to Happy Valley as the third ranked team in the Big Ten, just one spot above Penn State. However, Illinois has dropped its last three games, losing twice to Michigan over the weekend and once on Tuesday to Illinois State. The Fighting Illini has shared just two common opponents with Penn State thus far in Purdue and Northwestern. Illinois went a combined 5-1 against the two squads.
Illini at the Dish: Illinois has a batting average of .279 through 32 games, the fourth highest in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini are disciplined at the plate, as the squad leads the conference in walks with 144. The team boasts four players who have batting averages of .300 or higher in Jason Goldstein (.377), Will Krug (.331), Ryan Nage (.320) and David Kerian (.314). Each of the four players have scored 13 or more runs and driven in at least 15 runs this season.
Illini on the Mound: The Fighting Illini pitching staff enters the weekend with the third rated ERA in the conference, posting a team ERA of 3.12. Friday’s starter Drasen Johnson has a 2.40 ERA in nine starts, totaling a team-leading 56.1 innings of work. John Kravetz and Ryan Castellanos, Saturday and Sunday’s starters, each have three wins in 2014 and have pitched over 34 innings. Out of the bullpen Tyler Jay is the Illini’s best reliever, recording a 1.19 ERA over 22.2 innings to go along with four saves.
Last Series vs. Illinois: Penn State returned to Happy Valley empty handed after last year’s series against Illinois in Champaign. The Fighting Illini edged the Nittany Lions in the first two games, combining to outscore the Blue and White 13-10. Illinois then claimed a nine-run win in the finale of the series, winning by a final of 9-0. James Coates led the Lions offensively with five hits, a run, an RBI and a walk for a batting average of .385. On the mound Nick Hedge recorded 7.1 innings over two games, allowing no runs on two hits.
Last Time Out: The Nittany Lions won one out of three games in Columbus this past weekend against Ohio State. Penn State edged the Buckeyes in the opener by a final of 5-4, before dropping the next two games 7-0 and 12-6, respectively. Over the three games, senior Steve Snyder hit .429 and score four runs, including three in Friday’s win.
Playing on Easter: Since 2004, the Nittany Lions have a 7-5 record while playing on Easter Sunday. The Blue and White fell a season ago by a score of 7-5 while playing Purdue. PSU won two-straight years on Easter prior to last year’s defeat, downing Canisius in 2012 and Ohio State in 2011. The last time Penn State and Illinois played on Easter was 2010, when the Illini won claimed a lopsided 15-3 victory in Champaign.
B1G Double Plays: Despite playing the fewest amount of Big Ten games thus far this season, the Nittany Lions are tied for second in the number of double plays turned in conference games with 11. The 11 double plays have been turned in just eight games, while Northwestern’s 12 have come in 12 contests. The Blue and White is tied with Michigan in the rankings, which also has played 12 conference games.
The Steve Snyder Show: Senior outfielder Steve Snyder ranks in the top 10 in a number of individual categories in the Big Ten. The senior’s .376 batting average places the senior third in the conference. Snyder has recorded 46 hits, tied for third most in the Big Ten. Snyder’s on-base percentage of .459, ranks fourth in the league.
The outfielder is also beginning to make his mark in the Penn State history books, moving into the top 10 in career hits last weekend. Snyder’s six hits vaulted him into ninth place on the all-time list and the senior is just seven hits shy from reaching the top five. Snyder also ranks fourth in total at bats and is one triple and four walks shy of cracking the top 10 in each category.