Hartleb, Acton pick up preseason honors

By Rachel Spencer, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois baseball earned two more preseason accolades with a little over a month before the 2020 season begins.

Senior pitcher Garrett Acton was named to the Perfect Game All-American preseason second team and head coach Dan Hartleb was dubbed D1Baseball’s Big Ten Coach of the Decadeon Tuesday. The announcement marks Acton’s second preseason All-American honor of the 2020 campaign and follows a nod to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Preseason All-American second team on December 17.

Acton’s preseason distinctions follow an eventful junior year. Along with setting an Illinois and Big Ten record with 19 saves in 2019, Acton also became Illinois’ sixth All-American in the last five years and the fourth to receive at least one first-team honor. The 6-foot-2 transfer also led the Illini bullpen with 95 strikeouts and a 2.18 ERA.

Hartleb’s decadal honor comes after four NCAA regional appearances in the 2010s — 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019 — and two Big Ten titles in 2011 and 2015. Under Hartleb, Illinois earned its first National Player of the Year (former first baseman Bren Spillane), two first-round MLB Draft picks and hosted its first Super Regional as well. Three of his former players, Spillane, Kevin Duchene and Tyler Jay, were named to the Big Ten All-Decade team — making Illinois second in the conference with players named to the team. 

Illinois’ 2020 campaign will begin February 14, as the program travels to Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on Milwaukee.

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