|Probable Starting Pitchers|
|Fri. 11 a.m. CT||RHP Riley Gowens (0-0, -.–)||RHP Travis Perry (0-0, -.–) – Youngstown State|
|Sat. 11 a.m. CT||RHP Jack Wenninger (0-0, -.–)||RHP Nick Perez (0-0, -.–) – Youngstown State|
|Sat. 3 p.m. CT||RHP Jack Crowder (0-0, -.–)||RHP Teddy McGraw (0-0, -.–) – Wake Forest|
|Sun. 11:30 a.m. CT||TBA||LHP Josh Hartle (0-0, -.–) – Wake Forest|
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illinois baseball team begins its 144th season on Friday with a trip to Winston-Salem, N.C. The Illini are scheduled to play four games in three days, with two games each against Youngstown State and No. 6 Wake Forest.
This season, the team has 22 players returning from the 2022 roster and welcomes 14 newcomers. Eight of the 14 newcomers are transfers.
Right-hander Riley Gowens will take the mound for the Illini in the season opener. Gowens went 5-4 overall in 2022 with a 4.86 ERA (36 ER/66.2 IP) in 13 starts, to go along with 68 strikeouts. Right-handers Jack Wenninger (1-3, 5.71 ERA) and Jack Crowder (3-1, 6.13 ERA) will follow on Saturday, with Sunday’s starter to be announced.
Both games against No. 6 Wake Forest can be viewed on ACCNX.
vs. Youngstown State
• Record: 0-0
• Last: n/a
• First ever meeting between the two programs
vs. Wake Forest
• Record: 2-2 (H: 0-0, A: 1-1, N: 1-1)
• Last: L, 3-5 (2/16/20 in Winston-Salem)
• Illini are 1-1 at David F. Couch Ballpark
• Faced off against Wake Forest in the 1998 South I Regional in Gainesville, Fla.
• Illinois opened the 1998 NCAA tournament with a 14-12 loss to the Demon Deacons, but later eliminated Wake Forest with a 13-4 win to earn a trip to the regional final.
• Illinois begins its 144th season of play with a four-game set at David F. Couch Ballpark, with two games against the Youngstown State Penguins and the No. 6 Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
» The Illini are facing the Penguins for the first time in program history.
» The Illini are set to face the Demon Deacons for the fifth and sixth times in program history.
» Illinois is 1-1 at David F. Couch Ballpark all time.
» Illinois faced Wake Forest twice in the 1998 South I Regional in Gainesville, Fla., falling 14-12 to open tournament play, but later knocked the Demon Deacons out of the regionals with a 13-4 win.
• Illinois is 4-2 in their last six season openers, dating back to 2017.
• The Illini went 3-8 in neutral site games last season and 12-10 in true road games.
• Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb enters the 2023 campaign second on the program’s all-time win list with 507. He is just 12 wins away from passing Lee Eilbracht (518) for the most in program history.
» Hartleb reached 500 career wins on May 7, 2022, with a win over Miami (0H).
• Illinois has 22 returners and 14 newcomers on the 2023 roster.
» Eight newcomers are transfers: RHP Korey Bunselmeyer (Rend Lake), RHP TJ Constertina (St. Thomas), LHP John Lundgren (North Alabama), INF Coltin Quagliano (Illinois Central), C Jacob Schroeder (John A. Logan), OF Christian Smith (Vanderbilt), RHP Logan Tabeling (Wright State) and INF Drake Westcott (Louisville).
• The Illini return three all-Big Ten selections: Branden Comia (2nd), Cam McDonald (2nd) and Danny Doligale (3rd).
• OF Cam McDonald set a new program record last season by reaching base safely in 63-consecutive games, a streak that began on May 8, 2021, and ended on May 27, 2022, in the season-finale against Indiana in the Big Ten tournament.
» McDonald broke the record by reaching safely in his 58th-straight game on May 14 vs. Nebraska. He is the only player in Illini history to reach safely in over 60 games.
» McDonald paced the Illini last season with a .363 average, 77 hits, 59 RBI and a .561 slugging percentage.
• D1Baseball Big Ten top 2023 MLB Draft prospects: No. 23 RHP Jack Crowder
• D1Baseball top players:
» RHP Riley Gowens – SP No. 167
» INF Branden Comia – 3B No. 29
» OF Danny Doligale – OF No. 102
» OF Cam McDonald – OF No. 145
• Perfect Game Preseason Big Ten All-Conference: OF Cam McDonald.
• Perfect Game Big Ten top 2023 MLB Draft prospects: No. 24 Cam McDonald, No. 34 Branden Comia.
• Illinois’ new $8-million, 26,000-square foot Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center opened in September 2022.
Illinois will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to take on No. 18 Southern Miss at Pete Taylor Park for a three-game set.