April 25, 2013
-- With three important Big Ten series remaining on the schedule, Northwestern begins that stretch this weekend with a trip south down Interstate 57 to take on Illinois in a pivotal three-game set beginning Friday, April 26 at 6:05 p.m.
FARRELL FETCHES BIG TEN HONOR
Senior Luke Farrell was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday, April 22. The Westlake, Ohio native was brilliant as he fired a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the Michigan Wolverines at Wrigley Field on April 20. The 6-foot-6-inch standout struck out nine and did not issue a free pass in the victory that saw his ERA sink to 1.88, a mark that ranks fourth in the Big Ten. Farrell's 59 strikeouts this season lead the conference. He is slated to take the bump in Friday's series opener.
RUCHIM RAKES AND FIRES
Junior Kyle Ruchim has been one of the most prolific batters in the Big Ten this season. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native currently ranks third in the league in on-base percentage (.459) and slugging percentage (.577) and sixth in batting average (.375). In addition, Ruchim is 3-1 with two saves, a 0.72 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 25.0 innings on the mound this year. He has allowed only two earned runs in 11 appearances and none since March 29 at Nebraska when he went 4.1 innings in relief.
SOMETHING CLICKS IN FIVE AND SIX
The Wildcats have had a successful time in the fifth and sixth innings this season. Northwestern is outscoring the opposition 45-21 in those two innings combined. The most problematic frame for NU has been the seventh when it has a differential of -9 (28-19). On the whole, the 'Cats are outscoring opponents 172-142 through 32 games.
Fifth-year senior Trevor Stevens had a prolific weekend on the base paths for the Wildcats at Purdue. The leadoff man swiped four bases, including a career-high three in a 10-6 victory over the Boilermakers on April 6. With two outs in the top of the ninth, the fifth-year senior stole second and third before scoring the winning run. Stevens also stole third base with two outs to set up the game-tying run in the eighth inning against Michigan on April 21. The shortstop leads the team and ranks tied for 11th in the Big Ten with 13 stolen bases.
Northwestern's lineup has produced 64 doubles this season or 2.1 per game. That number ranks the 'Cats atop the Big Ten and 34th in the entire country. Seven players have at least five doubles in 2013, led by Kyle Ruchim, who has nine. On the flip side, the Wildcats pitching staff has surrendered only 36 two-base hits, by far the fewest per game in the conference. NU's three primary starting pitchers have allowed only 19 doubles in 175 innings pitched.
SCOUTING THE ILLINI
Illinois has been one of the top hitting clubs in the Big Ten this season. Head coach Dan Hartleb's squad is batting .307 and ranks second in the Big Ten in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Individually, Justin Parr is the top batter in the conference with an average of .435 and 98 total bases entering the weekend. The Illini boast six regulars batting .283 or better, including Justin's twin brother, Jordan Parr (.310). Illinois' pitching staff maintains a 3.76 ERA and is led by senior RHP Kevin Johnson. Johnson is tied for the team lead with six wins in 10 starts and boasts the lowest ERA on the staff at 2.45. He has 44 strikeouts in 66.0 IP and opponents are batting .247 off the Midlothian, Ill., native.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCH-UPS (NU vs. Illinois)
Friday: RHP Luke Farrell (2-2, 1.88 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Johnson (6-2, 2.45 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Brandon Magallones (4-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP John Kravetz (3-1, 5.19 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Zach Morton (3-2, 1.98 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Castellanos (2-1, 5.20 ERA)
For more game notes an information, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
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