The University of Illinois baseball team advances to the 2000 NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Ten Tournament and securing the conference’s automatic bid to the Regionals. The Illini, 40-21 in 2000, earned Head Coach Itch Jones’ first Big Ten Tournament championship after finishing in a tie for third place in the Big Ten in the regular season with a 17-11 conference mark.
Illinois started the season on a high, taking two of three games from Houston, ranked third in the country at the time, in early March. After making its first appearance in the national polls for the year, Illinois jumped to a 13-3 start in the Big Ten, the best start in conference play since 1982, before finishing in third place.
Junior righthander Jason Anderson is the staff ace, He has posted a 13-3 record this season, which ties Illinois’ single season wins record. The 2000 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year is 28-5 in his three-year career at Illinois and an undefeated 4-0 in the postseason after picking up two wins in two complete games at the Big Ten Tournament to be named the tournament’s most outstanding athlete. Sophomore lefthander Andy Dickinson is second on the staff with an 8-2 record and 4.01 ERA. Righthanders Joe Sprengard (4-4) and Ryan Kvasnicka (3-2) round out the Illini starting rotation.
Offensively, Illinois is led by freshman first baseman Andy Schutzenhofer, who was named first-team All-Big Ten after collecting a UI freshman record 84 hits and 63 RBI. Senior Craig Marquie, who is a third-team All-Big Ten selection this season and a member of the All-Big Ten Tournament team, is Illinois’ career games played and total bases leader and also ranks among the career top 10 in hits, runs, home runs, doubles and RBI. Fellow senior D.J. Svihlik, a two-time All-American and the 1998 Big Ten Player of the Year, ranks among Illinois’ career top 10 in hits, home runs, doubles, triples, total bases and RBI.
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