Illini Baseball begins its 143rd season on Friday


CHAMPAGNE, Ill. — The Illinois baseball team kicks off its 143rd season on Friday with a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas. The Illini are scheduled to play a three-game series against Kansas at Whataburger Field.

This season, the team has 24 returning players from the 2021 roster and welcomes 13 newcomers. Four of the 13 new arrivals are transfers.

second left-hander Cole Kirschsieper will start the Illini on Friday. Kirschsieper went 3-4 overall in 2021 with a 5.82 ERA in 38.2 innings. Illinois will send the second right-hander Jack Wenninger to the mound for Saturday’s contest, followed by the second LHP Hutchings Payton for the series finale on Sunday.

All three matches will be broadcast on B1G+.


against Kansas

• Record: 3-0 (Neutral: 3-0)
• Last: W, 11-9 (03/19/08)
• Illinois won all three games in the series
• Illini won their first encounter, 1-0 on 14/03/76


• Illinois is entering its 143rd season in program history.

• Illinois will play its first three games of the season against Kansas at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas.

• Illinois has 24 returning players and 13 newcomers to the 2022 roster.

» Four newcomers are transferred: OF Tyler Thompson (Carson-Newman), RHP Johnny Czeslawski (Northern Iowa Area CC), RHP Tommy green (Mercer) and HPR Jack Wenninger (Murray State)

• Illinois finished the season 22-22 and seventh in the Big Ten in 2021. Illinois has finished at or above .500 in 16 of 17 seasons under the head coach Dan Hartleb.

• Illinois has beaten every Big Ten team at least once in 2021.

• Illinois pitched a no-hitter combined on April 25, 2021 at Purdue.

• Offensive ranking of the Illinois Big Ten in 2021…

» 1st batting average (.276)

» 1st results (411)

» 3rd score (6.6 points/game)

» 3rd route (290)

» 5th base percentage (.374)

» 5th slugging percentage (.429)

» 5th step (197)

• Illinois has had the Big Ten regular-season batting champion the past three full seasons: 2021 – DH/1B Justin Janas2019 – INF Grant Van Scoy2018 – INF Bren Spillane.

• Illinois averaged 6.59 points/game in 2021, their highest single-season since 2009, when they averaged 7.46 points/game (403 R/54 G).

• Illinois finished last season with a .974 in percentage (3rd best in the conference). The Illini have had at least a .970 fielding percentage in nine of the past 11 seasons.

• Illinois had four shutouts in 2021. The last time the Illini had at least four shutouts in a single season was in 2014, when they had five shutouts. The last time the Illini had four conference shutouts in a single season was in 1989.

• Illinois has had double-digit strikeouts in 16 games this season. They did it in three consecutive games May 15-18 at Iowa/Indiana for the first time since April 2-5, 2019 against Coastal Carolina/Maryland (3g).

• Illinois has hit 43 home runs in its last 32 games after just four homers in its first 12 games of 2021.

• Illinois has scored at least six points in 18 of its 22 wins. The Illini were 18-6 when they scored six or more points in a game.

• Illinois have led or tied in the game in 16 of their 22 losses in 2021 (12 lead, four tied).

Dan Hartleb won his 475th game as head coach on May 22 against Penn State, passing Illini legend Itch Jones (474) to move into second place on the program’s all-time winning list. Hartleb (476) is 43 wins away from passing Lee Eilbracht (518) for the top spot on the all-time win list.

• DH/1B Justin Janas won the Big Ten batting title with a .391 batting average. Next closest was Northwestern’s Shawn Goosenberg (.358). Janas also led the conference in on-base percentage (.506) and the Illini in hits (54). He’s reached base safely in 40 of 42 appearances this season.

On May 16 at Iowa, Janas (5 for 5, 2G, RBI, R) became the first Illinois hitter with five hits in a game since Jason Goldstein on May 10, 2015 against Rutgers (5 for 5 , HR, 4 RBI, 3 R). He was the first to do it on the road since Ryan Hastings on April 7, 2008 in Indiana (5 for 6, 2G, 2 RBI, 2 R).

Branden Comia ended his 37-game career streak that dated back to May 18, 2019 at Michigan State on April 10 at Indiana. It was Illini’s third longest on-base streak since 2004 (Ben Troike-57 games in 2017-18, Kyle Hudson-38 games in 2008).

» Final ranking of the Big Ten: 1st – Ratio SO/BB (5.27), T-1st – wins (1), 6th – SO/9 inn. (12.47)

• 1B Kellen Sarver was named Big Ten Player of the Week after his performance against Penn State from May 21-23. He reached .500/.538/1.417 (6 for 12), with two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs and six runs scored in three games.

• HPR Riley Gowens was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the Week and Big Ten Pitcher of the Week after going seven hitless innings in his Purdue debut on April 25.

• Illinois had 18 student-athletes named to the Academic All-Big Ten in 2021.

• The new $8 million, 26,000 square foot Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Practice Facility in Illinois is scheduled to open in 2022.

• D1Baseball Big Ten 2022 MLB Top Draft Prospects: No. 5 LHP Cole KirschsieperNo. 17 HPR Riley GowensNo. 20 SS Branden Comia, No. 27 1B Justin Janas.

Baseball America Big Ten 2022 MLB Top Draft Prospects: 4th LHP Cole Kirschsieper.

• Perfect Game Preseason All-Big Ten Team: 1B Justin Janas and C/OF Jacob Campbell.

• Perfect Game Big Ten, 2022 MLB Draft Top Prospects: 4th LHP Cole KirschsieperNo. 22 C Jacob CampbellNo. 24 INF Branden Comia.


Illinois travels to Conway, South Carolina next weekend for games against Middle Tennessee and Coastal Carolina, followed by UNC-Wilmington in Wilmington, North Carolina to wrap up the weekend. end.

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