Baseball to open the season with weekend series against Illinois

The Golden Eagle baseball team will open up their s¬eason with a home weekend series against Big Ten opponent Illinois starting Feb. 15.
“They are talented,” Head Coach Matt Bragga said. “If you’re out of the Big Ten, you’re going to have some good players. ( ”
The Fighting Illini come into the opening series projected by Baseball America to finish seventh in the Big Ten.
Baseball America has them projected to go 29-27 this season. Last season, the Illini went 28-25.
“They love to run,” Bragga said. “They are very proficient at bunting. The small game is something they really enjoy to focus on.”
Last season, Illinois stole 78 bases as a team, but last year’s stolen base leader, outfielder Willie Argo, was drafted in the 22nd round of the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Key players for the Fighting Illini include senior right-fielder Jordan Parr and senior pitcher Kevin Johnson.
Parr was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 26th round of the draft, but chose to come back to Illinois. He led the team in every major offensive category, having a batting average of .348 while hitting 15 home runs and 45 RBI.
Johnson came back to Illinois after being selected in the 31st round of the draft by the New York Yankees. He had a solid season last year with a 7-5 record and a team leading ERA of 3.97.
Tech matches up with the Illini very well on the position side of things, as they outhit them last season by 16 points.
Tech also had six men hit over .300 with a minimum of 125 plate appearances. The Illini had only two.
The pitching matchups will be interesting as Illinois brings in Johnson and sophomore John Kravetz to matchup against Tech’s senior ace Tristan Archer and redshirt sophomore Jacob Honea.
“Just because they like to run doesn’t mean they don’t have some hitters, because they do,” Bragga said. “If I were to give you a brief synopsis over what Illinois likes to do traditionally, they like to run.”
The Golden Eagles open up a three game weekend series against Illinois at the Averitt Baseball Complex Friday at 3 p.m.