While I did not make it back out to Ann Arbor Saturday, I have found time to recap both Saturday and Sunday's Big Ten baseball action. After this weekend's results, I think I can start safely expecting the unexpected in conference play this season. Here's a brief review.
Northwestern took three of four from Illinois. After winning Friday night's contest (please refer to my recap post on that), NU won both ends of Saturday's doubleheader in Champaign, 7-3 and 7-6 in twelve innings. In the opener, Caleb Fields hit his second homer (one of his three hits) and Antonio Mule jacked homer number five for the 'Cats. Dan Brauer threw a 114 pitch seven inning complete game and improved to 3-1.
The nightcap saw Fields collect four hits in six at bats to pace NU's attack. Dan Schwartz earned his third win pitching six innings of relief work. Chase Kliment had two hits and two RBI for Illinois in the loss.
Illinois managed to avoid the sweep by capturing Sunday's game, 3-1. Kliment had two more hits Sunday to lead the Illini. NU's Fields went 2 for 4 and Anthony Wycklendt homered and doubled for the Wildcats. Jake Stewart pitched five innings of the rain shortened affair to gain the victory.
The Hoosiers and Boilermakers split their Saturday twinbill. IU captured Game One, 3-2. Zach Boswell went yard (his fourth) and drove in two runs. Josh Lewis (3-5) grabbed the win, Chris McCombs claimed the save (his third).
Purdue emerged victorious in the second game, 5-2. Mitch Hilligoss went 4 for 4 and stole his tenth base of the year in leading the Boilermakers' offense. Brent Courdon improved to 3-3. IU's McCombs, who saved the first game of the doubleheader, started and lost the second affair.
Sunday's game was all Purdue. The Boilermakers rolled to a 25-8 triumph over Indiana. Neal Gorka and Ryne White homered twice and banged out four hits a piece. Gorka drove in eight, yes, eight runs. White had five RBI and Hilligoss chipped in with four hits and four RBI of his own. Purdue starter Ricky Heines got the win.
Minnesota took game one of their Saturday DH with Iowa, 5-2. The Hawkeyes beat the Gophers, 3-1, in the nightcap. 3B Joe Maciej drove in two Minnesota runs. Dustin Brabender (3-4) earned the win. Andy Peters posted the save. Iowa's Jeff Maitland suffered his first defeat of the season.
Iowa 2B Travis Sweet went 2 for 2 with a RBI in the second game. Tim Gudex posted his sixth save.
Minnesota won again Sunday, 12-1, to take three of four from Iowa. For the Gophers, Maciej and Taylor VanderAarde each had two hits, two RBI and scored twice, DH Kyle Baran had three hits and three RBI. Cole DeVries fanned eight in 6.2 innings and bumped his record up to 4-2.
At State College, Michigan State needed extra innings in both games to sweep the doubleheader from Penn State. The Spartans won by scores of 9-5 and 6-4. Jeff Gerbe pitched all eight innings in the opener to post his fourth win against three defeats. MSU's Steve Gerstenberger had a three run triple and stole home on a double steal.
E.J. Daws hit his first homerun of 2006 and Ryan Basham went 3 for 4 to lead MSU to victory in Game Two. Mike Monterey (4-5) got the win in the nightcap. Lance Thompson drove in two PSU's runs.
Scott Gummo's double in the bottom of the ninth vaulted Penn State to victory Sunday, 12-11. The win also earned the Nittany Lions a weekend split with MSU. Nittany Lions OF Brian Ernst went 5 for 6. PSU's Scott Gaffney delivered his first win of the year in his first pitching performance of the campaign.
Arguably the most interesting results of the weekend came from Ray Fisher Stadium, where Michigan swept the series with #24 Ohio State. After a resounding win Friday night, the Wolverines swept Saturday's double dip with OSU. Michigan won game one, 7-1 and captured the second tilt, 2-1 in eight innings (which is extra innings for those unaware that the DH's are seven inning games).
Paul Hammond went the distance in the first meeting. Hammond (2-3) allowed five hits, struck out five and yielded only the single run. Mike Schmidt and Adam Abraham each went yard and drove in three runs.
SS Leif Mahler drove in the winning run in extra innings in the nightcap. OSU's Jake Hale and Michigan's Chris Fetter pitched strong outings, but it was Wolverine reliver Craig Murray who posted the win pitching the eighth inning. Schmidt and Buckeye CF Matt Angle each had a pair of hits.
Michigan swept the weekend series by claiming a 5-4 triumph today. Eric Rose drove in a pair of runs for the Wolverines. Andrew Hess (2-0) pitched seven innings, allowing eleven hits, but allowing only two runs. Buckeye freshman star J.B. Shuck took his first career loss (5-1). Michigan's Ben Jenzen threw two innings of relief work to merit his first save.
With this wacky weekend now in the books, let's see what the standings look like. Northwestern owns sole possession of first place in the Big Ten at 9-3 (12-19). Michigan, after it's sweep, has lifted itself into second place at 8-4 (20-12). Purdue holds onto the third spot at 7-5 (20-11). Fourth place belongs to the .500 clubs--Ohio State (20-11), Michigan State (17-15) and Minnesota (18-14). Each is 6-6 in the conference.
Iowa (15-17) and Penn State (11-23) are in at 5-7. Indiana is 4-8 (12-20) and Illinois is 4-9 (16-16).