Monday, May 15, 2006

NU Wins, Stays Tied With Michigan

Northwestern crushed Michigan State this afternoon, 12-2. Pat McMahon had three hits and three RBI to lead the 'Cats offense. Anthony Wycklendt and Geoff Dietz each homered for NU. Julio Siberio (4-2) picked up the win. The win means NU and Michigan remain tied for first place in the Big Ten.

This week, the Wildcats will take on Illinois State on Tuesday before facing Purdue in their last Big Ten regular season series. In Ann Arbor, Jack Dahm's Iowa squad will look to derail Michigan's title hopes this weekend. However, the Wolverines have an interesting midweek affair against # 21 Notre Dame tomorrow night.

I'm confident that Rich Maloney will trot out an array of arms in this midweek game, but let's not kid ourselves--this game is more than a bit important. Notre Dame remains ranked in the Top 25 and has an RPI of 49. If the Wolverines cannot capture the Big Ten Conference tournament title, they will be left hoping for an at-large NCAA tourney berth. Their case for one of those coveted openings can be strengthened by dropping the Fighting Irish Tuesday night.

I have time to mention some additional random things, so here goes.

* Remember when I suggested that NU's Dan Brauer would probably merit his second straight Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor in light of his no-hitter? Well, Brauer did one better, he claimed National Player of the Week recognition, too.

* More quality pitching came from Doug Fleenor of Indiana. Fleenor pitched a nine inning complete game 2-0 shutout vs. Illinois today. He allowed only five hits and a walk while striking out seven.

*IU and Illini fans might like to know that the Hoosiers swept today's twinbill. Tracy Smith's nine beat Dan Hartleb's side by scores of 5-4 and Fleenor's 2-0 gem.

* Purdue's RHP Ricky Heines went the distance in beating Iowa, 4-2 yesterday. The Boilermaker righthander gave up three walks but only four hits in nine innings.

* Purdue's Trae Dauby outdueled Iowa's Jeff Maitland to post a 1-0 victory Saturday. Each pitched a seven inning complete game with Dauby allowing no runs on six hits and a single walk while Maitland countered by yielding seven hits and three walks, but the lone run of the game. Dauby K'd eight, Maitland five.

* Am I reading this correctly? Minnesota scored 12 runs on 17 hits, but did not record a solitary extra base hit? Not one?

* I've yet to learn what happened to Indiana freshman Cameron Satterwhite. It appears he has been dismissed from the squad, as he hasn't appeared in a game in quite a while and his name is no longer on IU's roster.

* Michigan catcher Jeff Kunkel is a semi-finalist for the 2006 Johnny Bench Award. The Bench Award is given out annually by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission to the nation's best catcher.

* I was whining (yes, again) not long ago about a lack of college baseball coverage on XM Radio. Specifically, I was lamenting the Big Ten not using the opportunity to broadcast their games on a satellite radio feed that was, basically, doing nothing. Well, two things have come to my attention since.

First, Michigan and Ohio State, to name just two, have a separate satellite deal with Sirius radio. I sort of knew that. (How you have broadcast rights to the Big Ten without Michigan and Ohio State seems kind of odd, but okay.) What I was totally clueless about (in addition to college baseball) was that Sirius does broadcast Big XII and SEC baseball games. Imagine my surprise and disappointment.

Sure, now, CSTV.com's Eric Sorenson points this out. Where was this information when I was reviewing satellite options, Eric? Even though I am Sirius-free, it's still good news for college baseball. Okay, college baseball's big boys, but I'm all in favor of more college baseball coverage.

Note to the other satellite radio provider and the conference I tend to cover here: I still think the Big Ten should at least put together a Game of the Week for XM. Hey, XM has the Pac-10, as well. Why not a Pac-10 tilt?

* Jim Carty of The Ann Arbor News wrote this story on Michigan reliever Ali Husain and his life after the death of his father, Faz, earlier this year. I met Ali a year at a Michigan baseball meet-and-greet and came away very impressed.

* Ohio State's diminished title hopes are outlined by Mark Znidar of The Columbus Dispatch.