Friday, May 26, 2006

Big Ten Tournament: Day 3

Four baseball games in one day is quite a few even for me. Yet, I did see the majority of innings played in today's quadruple header played at the Big Ten Tournament. As usual, I continue to learn things, alas some I cannot report, but it was a fun and tiring day. Here's the action that took place.

The day began before lunch with Minnesota dropping Michigan, 6-2. (Remember when I said I had a crazy feeling about Minnesota?) Gopher starter Brian Bull (7-4) pitched gave up only two runs in eight innings to earn the victory. Luke McLean had four hits, Dan Lyons three for Minnesota. Doug Pickens hit a two run homer for Michigan.

In game two, Northwestern sent Purdue home, 8-4. George Kontos pitched a complete game triumph. The righthander did allow twelve hits, but struck out seven en route to his third win of the year. The offensive highlight for NU was rightfielder Antonio Mule's titanic homer to dead centerfield. Mule also paced the attack with three hits.

All-Big Ten shortstop Mitch Hilligoss went 3 for 4 and drove in two Purdue runs. The Boilermakers finished the season at 31-27.

The win over Purdue meant Northwestern got to play in the very next game. However, the results would be much different. The Wildcats dropped game three of the day to Michigan, 8-3, and have been eliminated from the tournament.

Nate Recknagel, Jeff Kunkel and Adam Abraham each had two RBI. Recknagel led the Wolverine hit parade by going 4 for 5 with his sixth dinger. Michigan starter Chris Fetter worked 6.2 innings allowing two runs on seven hits. The freshman righthander also fanned seven.

Mule, again, led the NU offense. He went 3 for 4 with another homerun, his 11th, but it wasn't enough as the 'Cats season ends with a 26-33 record.

The last game of the day has just gone final. Minnesota beat Ohio State, 7-3. (See, I just had this feeling about John Anderson's squad.) I expect the stats to be along shortly, but I will probably finish blogging before then. Use the links on the right to dig out the numbers, if you need them.

This result means OSU will play Michigan tomorrow afternoon with the winner playing the Gophers for the championship. If the Gophers win the late game tomorrow, they will claim the title. If the OSU/Michigan winner goes on to beat the Gophers, then there will be a Sunday game between the two teams to determine who wins the tournament and gets the Big Ten birth in the NCAA's.

Some random observations before calling it a night (and a pretty darn long day, too). It seems to me that the warmer the weather, the better the ball flys at Fisher Stadium. Last I checked, Saturday was scheduled to be the warmest day of the tournament thus far.

Do people actually say "Excuse me" anymore or is that just out of style? I can't tell you how many people walked right in front of me, basically occupying the identical space, without the slightest acknowledgement that I was being inconvenienced.

Yes, I bought my tournament t-shirt. Thanks to Jeff for his suggestion. Jeff, I opted for long sleeve, but if the short sleeve are still around tomorrow, I may put your plan into affect.

College teams, at least those in the Big Ten, bunt too much for my taste. As just one example, number three hitters with no outs and runners on base square around. Maybe I've been too unduly influenced by the pro game, but it seems strange to sacrifice what, in theory, is the best hitter in your lineup. If your best hitter can't be counted on to drive in runs, what makes you think the next guy's odds are better? (In fact, the odds simply can't be better if the next guy's average is lower.)

A tip of the cap to the Fisher Stadium ground crew. After Thursday's nasty thunderstorm and today's early rain, they managed to keep the field playable. Nice job.