Illini baseball’s postseason fate to be decided this weekend

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Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Cody Sedlock (29) winds up for the pitch during the baseball game v. Indiana at Illinois Field on Friday, Apr. 17, 2015. Illinois won 5-1.

By Will Gerard, Staff Writer

As the regular season comes to a conclusion, the Illini control their own destiny with a three game set beginning tonight in Champaign.

Ignoring the various other possible scenarios, the only way the team can outright secure a spot in the eight-team tournament field is with a sweep of the Wolverines – a team sitting in fifth place despite a current five-game losing streak. Regardless of what is at stake, Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb insists his team will be treating the series no different from any other.

“We don’t change anything from week to week. The season isn’t a roller coaster,” Hartleb said. “We’ll continue to push guys and we’ve had good, productive practices. I think the guys are in a good frame of mind heading into the weekend.”

Illinois ace Cody Sedlock is expected to get the ball in the first game. The hard throwing right-hander boasts a 2.62 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 92 1-3 innings this season. His strikeout total leads all others in the Big Ten, having already surpassed the single-season school record.

Sedlock’s batterymate, senior catcher Jason Goldstein, will play in his final games at Illinois Field this weekend. Last June, Goldstein was drafted in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, returning to school hasn’t appeared to hurt his draft stock as he has hit for a .327 batting average while providing a veteran presence behind the plate, even calling the majority of pitches from behind the plate – an uncommon practice around college baseball with signals often being relayed from the bench.

Now out of school for summer, Goldstein feels a professional with his sole focus on preparation for games. He claims for the time being is not concerned about the upcoming draft.

“Right now I’m focused on making it into the Big Ten Tournament,” Goldstein said. “We need to win and everyone knows that. This weekend will show who true competitors are on our team and we’re looking forward to it.”

Michigan will also rely heavily on their own pitcher-catcher duo. The left-handed Brett Adcock has a 3.00 ERA and leads the Wolverines with 87 strikeouts. The six-foot, 230 pound junior ranks fifth all-time in program history with a total of 243 career strikeouts. Fellow junior catcher Harrison Wenson is one of 15 Johnny Bench Award semifinalists, batting .313 with a team-high seven home runs.

Tonight’s match-up will be the first of the season between Michigan (34-17, 12-8) and Illinois (26-22, 10-11 Big Ten) with first pitch set for 6 p.m. at Illinois Field.

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