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Illinois baseball takes on Eastern Illinois at Illinois Field

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Illinois baseball takes on Eastern Illinois at Illinois Field

Illinois’ Jason Goldstein hits a solo home run to left field  during game one of the team's doubleheader against Penn State at Illini Field on Saturday, March 26. The Illini won game one 6-1 and lost game two 5-3.

Illinois’ Jason Goldstein hits a solo home run to left field during game one of the team's doubleheader against Penn State at Illini Field on Saturday, March 26. The Illini won game one 6-1 and lost game two 5-3.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Jason Goldstein hits a solo home run to left field during game one of the team's doubleheader against Penn State at Illini Field on Saturday, March 26. The Illini won game one 6-1 and lost game two 5-3.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Jason Goldstein hits a solo home run to left field during game one of the team's doubleheader against Penn State at Illini Field on Saturday, March 26. The Illini won game one 6-1 and lost game two 5-3.

By Cole Henke

Quinten Sefcik will make his first career start for @IlliniBaseball against Eastern Illinois Tuesday #Illini

The Eastern Illinois baseball team will make the trip up I-57 to take on Illinois’ baseball team at Illinois Field on Tuesday.

The Panthers (5-22, 1-8 Ohio Valley) RBwill be the Illini’s (11-14, 3-3 Big Ten)RB second mid-week opponent this season. Last week, the Illini fell to the Indiana State Sycamores.RB

The Panthers got off to a slow start, losing their first nine games. RB

But head coach Dan Hartleb said that the Illini’s in-state opponent is not to be taken lightly.

“We need to win every game,” Hartleb said. “I expect improvement and we need to go out and play every game as hard as we can because we aren’t doing things very well right now. We need to figure out how to win games.”

Redshirt freshman Quinten Sefcik will get his first career start Tuesday.

Sefcik has appeared in two games for the Illini this season. In two innings of work, he has given up six hits, six earned runs and three doubles. RB

Sefcik will have a clicking Illini offense behind him – the offense averaged seven runs per game against Nebraska last weekend.RB

But stopping offenses has not been the Panthers’ forte this season. The Panthers have given up 218 runs this season while the Illini have only given up 124.RB

The Panthers have the third worst team ERA in the OVC with a 7.20. They have given up double digit runs in five separate games. The Panther offense hasn’t been able to keep up in those games either — they are 0-5 when they give up 10 or more runs.RB

Murray State handed Eastern its worst loss of the season last weekend, winning Saturday’s matchup 31-11. The Panthers were down 16-0 after the second inning.RB

Like Eastern, the Illini have been struggling recently. Hartleb has not been happy with the play of his upperclassmen.

“We have guys that are playing soft right and we need that to change,” Hartleb said. “We need our upperclassmen to step up and get their jobs done, both at the plate and on the mound. Those guys are capable physically but they need to be mentally tougher.”

Goldstein still not 100 percent

In the top of the ninth of Illinois baseball’s game against Nebraska on Sunday, catcher Jason Goldstein reached first base on a fielder’s choice.

Then, Hartleb put freshman David Craan in as a pinch runner. 

It is not common for Goldstein to come out of the game at any point, but he is still recovering from an injured hamstring that he suffered during the Coastal Carolina Invitational.

“He is still not running at all,” Hartleb said. “I don’t know if he is back to 100 percent yet but he hasn’t been running at practice so I was forced to pinch run for him.”

Since returning, Goldstein has played in nine games. He has five hits in 27 at-bats in those nine games, with four RBIs.

Prior to his injury, Goldstein was 17-for-41 with seven RBIs. His batting average has been cut in half since he sat out.

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@cole_Henke

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