Big Ten season starts this weekend for Illini

Wikoff and Altobelli at the ready against Indiana State

 

Next Game:

Game #16

  • Fri 3/28 2:05
  • Sat 3/29 12:05 DH
  • Sun 3/30 12:05 DH

Record:  9-6

vs Michigan State University

at Oldsmobile Park, Lansing, MI

Note:  Before I get started, Illini fans should know that Friday’s game at Oldsmobile Park has been postponed due to snow.  They will play a doubleheader on Sunday to make up for this. 

This weekend, barring anymore bad weather, will be Illinois’ first Big Ten encounter.  They will be taking on the Spartans of Michigan State at Oldsmobile Park.  Minor league aficionados will know that is the home of the Lansing Lugnuts who are the farm team of Toronto Blue Jays.

The Spartans who are obviously having their own battles with the weather like Illinois, are 7-9 for 2008.  Illinois is on a roll winning six of their last seven games.  A Big Ten matchup may be more of challenge especially on the road but I have a feeling they are up for it.

MSU Looking for Revenge?

The Spartans may be looking for some payback.  The last time these two teams faced each other both teams was the last series of 2007 and both teams were fighting for Big Ten tournament qualification. 

MSU had it wrapped up in the last game, with a 7-0 lead with two outs in the 5th.  What happened next was probably the best comeback I’ve ever witnessed.  It started with a Nick Stockwell homerun over the left field fence and was later bolstered by two homeruns by Lars Davis. 

End result:  Illinois came back to win that game 8-7 and went on to the Big Ten Tournament and Spartans went home.  You can read my account on the whole thing here (plus see some photos).  It’s one of those games I know I will never forget.  I’m sure neither will the Spartans.

Here’s the rundown on MSU.

 

Opponent: Michigan State University
Nickname: Spartans
Conference: Big Ten
Head Coach: David Grewe (3rd year)
Hometown: Lansing, MI
Current Record: 7-9
Baseball Program website: Link
Players to watch: MSU’s big hitter is Kyle Day who leads the team with a .323 average and 15 rbis.  Jonathan Roof (Shawn’s brother), who plays both catcher and outfield, is hitting .303 with 8 rbis and 9 runs. 
Team Fact: MSU has four players who have pitched AND had at least one at-bat.  That gives them some flexibility.

On a related matter, the local paper, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette had a nice feature article on Illinois CF Kyle Hudson.  It was mostly highlighting his move from the 9th spot in the order last year to leadoff this year and how he has responded so well to it.  Hudson’s current batting average??  .456.

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