I'll begin the weekend review at the top where Northwestern has taken two of the three games played with Michigan State. The highlight of the first three games for NU has clearly been Dan Brauer's (6-1) no hitter vs. the Spartans today. The Wildcats won the opening game of today's twinbill, 7-0, behind the junior lefty's no hit, one walk, eight strikeout seven innings of work. I think there's a pretty good chance Brauer will repeat as Big Ten pitcher of the week.
The Wildcats other win came in the lone Saturday affair, 6-3. Caleb Fields, NU's 3B, hit his fourth homer, drove in two, scored twice and stole a base. MSU's Kyle Day went 3 for 5, stole a base and also went yard to lead the Spartans offense. MSU starter Craig Brookes (1-4) fanned 12 'Cats in seven innings, but suffered the loss. NU starter Ryan Myers (3-4) also worked seven innings to post the win.
The Spartans win came in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader. After getting no-hit by Brauer in the opener, MSU prevailed in game two over Northwestern, 6-2. The game was quite a pitcher's duel. Both MSU's John Dwan and NU's George Kontos pitched seven inning complete games. Dwan tossed 130 pitches fanning 10 Wildcat batters and improved to 2-5 on the year. Kontos (2-9) countered by throwing 122 times, striking out 11 Spartans, but taking the defeat.
Sean Walker went 3 for 3 for the Spartans and teammate Ryan Basham drove in a pair of runs. NU 2B Jake Owens went 3 for 4. Northwestern's loss allowed Michigan to claim first place in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines took three of four games from Penn State this weekend. Michigan took Friday's game (see previous post) and then split Saturday's doubleheader with the Nittany Lions. Game one went to Michigan, 2-0. Michigan's Chris Fetter (4-1) allowed no runs, no walks, four hits and struck out three in 6.2 innings. PSU's Mark Wyner (2-8) was the hardluck loser tossing a complete game six hitter. Michigan's Ben Jenzen earned his third save facing only two batters.
The Nittany Lions roared back in game two, winning 13-2. Matt Cavagnaro went 3 for 4 (a double, triple and homerun) and had six RBI for PSU. Lions' starter Seth Whitehill (2-2) pitched six innings and fanned eight.
Michigan took the Big Ten lead by beating PSU today, 4-0. Drew Taylor (5-4) tossed a complete game nine inning shutout. The Wolverines' starter allowed only seven hits and walked only a single batter. Freshman outfielder Adam Abraham went 3 for 5 for Michigan. PSU's Aaron Greenfield had three hits on the day.
The win placed Michigan one half game ahead of Northwestern heading into Monday. The Wildcats hope to play the finale of the their set with Michigan State at 3pm central time. Another NU win would put the Wildcats back into a first place tie with the Wolverines. A loss would give Michigan a full game lead heading into the final weekend of Big Ten play.
Ohio State remains in third place, but the Buckeyes have dropped two of three from Minnesota this weekend. The Gophers have 2-1 and 12-3 wins after a Friday night OSU triumph, 10-2. Purdue and Iowa split their weekend encouter. Illinois and Indiana split the only two games they've been able to squeeze in between the raindrops.
As it's late, I'm going to stop here. My apologies to those I have not provided links to. I'll attempt to address that matter and give some credit to those who performed well in the games I've glossed over Monday night. Hopefully, I'll also have a Northwestern/Michigan State result to share. And, yes, an Illinois/IU game (or two) result, as well.
Editor's note (5/15/06): I believe I've linked all the players I've referenced. Again, my apologies if I missed someone.