Sunday, April 30, 2006

NU Keeps Winning And Other Sunday Action

Northwestern's surprising run through the Big Ten continued Sunday. The Wildcats split a doubleheader with Iowa and maintained their share of first place in the conference. While the Hawkeyes pounded the 'Cats in the opener, 16-2, NU (14-5/17-23) took the finale of the weekend series, 7-6.

Iowa CF Nate Price went 4 for5 with a homer and five RBI in game one. Austin Seward (4-4) pitched a complete game for Iowa. Seward allowed eight hits, two runs and fanned six in his seven innings. In game two, Tommy Finn and Jake Owens each drove in a pair of run to help lead NU to victory.

Michigan stayed level with the Wildcats by beating Michigan State, 11-5. Leif Mahler, Doug Pickens, Nate Recknagel and Jeff Kunkel, the Wolverines' 2-5 hitters, each drove in a pair of runs. MSU's Oliver Wolcott and Sean Walker each homered and drove in two.

Purdue avoided a sweep in Columbus by beating the Ohio State, 7-6. Ryne White and John Hunter each had two hits and two RBI for the Boilermakers. Purdue's Jordan Comadena went yard, as well. OSU's Ronnie Bourquin went 4 for 5 and Jedidiah Stephen went 3 for 4 with his sixth homerun.

Illinois brought out the lumber (or heavy metal) today and beat Minnesota, 16-8. The Illini's twenty-four hit attack was led by Dave Schultz who was 5 for 5 and Ryan Snowden who went 5 for 6. Both scored twice and had two RBI. Joe Bonadonna had four RBI and Ryan Hastings had four hits and scored three times. Illini righthander Brian Blomquist won his third game pitching in relief.

On a happier note in Gopherland, head coach John Anderson was given a contract extension. Anderson is now signed through the 2010 season.

Penn State beat up (and down) Indiana, 11-0. PSU's Craig Clark pitched a complete game shutout. Clark allowed only six hits, walked no one and struck out seven Hoosiers. 3B Matt Cavagnaro led the way with three hits and also scored three times. Lance Thompson and Aaron Greenfield each had a pair of RBI.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gudex, Whitmore Garner Acclaim

Two Big Ten closers are on the NCBWA's Stopper of the Year watchlist. Relievers Tim Gudex of Iowa and Matt Whitmore of Illinois each made the thirty man mid-season watchlist. The ironic part is that both Gudex and Whitmore have recently been moved out of the bullpen and into their team's starting rotation.

However, it is still an honor to be named amongst the best closers in the nation. BTH congratulates both men on their mid-season recognition.

Bourquin, Shuck On Howser List

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has released its watch list for the Dick Howser Award. The Howser Award is given annually to the top player in college baseball. Two members of the Ohio State Buckeyes are on the list. Thirdbaseman Ronnie Bourquin and pitcher/firstbaseman/outfielder J.B. Shuck have garnered the honor.

Obviously, I'm happy for both Buckeye stars and both are worthy nominees. However, leaving off Purdue shortstop Mitch Hilligoss is an oversight. I can't honestly say who I would remove from the NCBWA's watchlist, but it's difficult to imagine that the player who might be the Big Ten's player of the year isn't being considered.

Bourquin and Shuck are, however, fine representatives of the conference. Congratulations to both.

Up To This Moment

Sorry, boys and girls, but I've been away from the PC. I really do have a little bit of a personal life. Shocking, I know. Regardless, let's start reviewing the Big Ten weekend with last night's results.

Northwestern maintained first place by downing Iowa, 9-5. Pat McMahon, Anthony Wycklendt, Antonio Mule and Geoff Dietz each drove in two runs for NU. McMahon paced the hit parade by collecting three hits. Hawkeye DH Brian Burmester had two hits and two RBI.

Zach Putnam kept Michigan tied with the Wildcats for first place by leading Michigan past Michigan State, 7-1. The freshman righthander (4-0) did yield ten hits and five walks, but posted his third straight conference win. Michigan SS Leif Mahler went 4 for 4 LF Mike Schmidt was 3 for 4. MSU's Ryan Basham and Alan Cattrysse each had three hits, as well.

Ohio State beat Purdue Friday night, 10-5. OSU starter Dan DeLucia improved to 7-2 by tossing seven innings of eight hit, five run baseball. Jacob Howell had a pair of hits including a bases loaded triple. Matt Angle went 4 for 5, scoring twice and stealing three bases (21). Eric Fryer and Ronnie Bourquin each had three hits. Purdue SS Mitch Hilligoss had two hits and two stolen bases.

At the Metrodome, Illinois beat Minnesota, 4-3. Mike Rohde went yard for the third time in '06, Dave Schultz drove in a pair of runs and Joe Bonadonna scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Brian Long posted the win in relief of Matt Whitmore. Jake Toohey notched his second save. Minnesota DH Kyle Baran drove in two of the Gophers three runs.

Penn State dropped Indiana, 5-4. PSU starter Alan Stidfole collected his third win going eight innings. 3B Scott Gummo had two hits and two RBI. IU 2B Keith Haas had three hits and stole base number nineteen.

For some national perspective on Friday, here's's Eric Sorenson.

Today's doubleheaders in the Big Ten played out this way.

Bad weather in Iowa City has forced the doubleheader between NU and Iowa to become a single, seven inning contest. I haven't found a result of the game yet.

IU swept PSU by scores of 3-2 (in 10 innings) and 3-0. In the opener, Hoosier freshman Joe Vicini pitched four innings in relief of Josh Lewis to improve to 4-2. IU SS Josh Richardson had a pair of hits, a stolen base and a RBI. PSU SS Scott Gaffney knocked out three hits, including a double and a triple.

Another IU freshman hurler, Tyler Tufts, was the story of game two. Making his Big Ten debut, Tufts hurled a complete game seven inning shutout. The righthander allowed only eight hits and one walk in his seven frames. Jay Brant went 3 for 4 scoring twice and driving home two more IU tallies.

Michigan and Michigan State split their twinbill. Michigan grabbed the opener, 6-2. State scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to prevail, 7-6, in the nightcap. In game one, Michigan's Doug Pickens went 3 for 4, scored twice and drove in a run to lead the Wolverine offense. Schmidt added his eighth homer and drove in two for Michigan. Michigan's Paul Hammond (4-3) outdueled MSU's Jeff Gerbe (4-4), each pitching complete games, to earn the win.

MSU SS Troy Krider went 4 for 4 and hit his first homer of the year leading MSU to victory in the second game. State CF Adam Tripp had a pair of hits and two RBI. The Spartan's Mike Monterey (6-5) pitched only one third of an inning to claim the win. Michigan CF Eric Rose had two hits, three RBI and stole his 23rd base.

Ohio State swept Purdue on Saturday. The Buckeyes took game one from the Boilermakers, 4-0. Sophomore Cory Luebke pitched a complete game seven inning shutout. The lefty allowed no runs, no walks and only five hits in the opener. OSU CF Angle had two more RBI.

The second affair saw OSU win, 4-1. Buckeye freshman Jake Hale pitched seven innings for his own complete game in the nightcap. The righthander (3-3) gave up only three hits, one run and three walks. Jedidiah Stephen, Wes Schirtzinger and Bourquin all had RBI.

Minnesota and Iowa split their Saturday twinbill. The Golden Gophers took the initial game from the Hawkeyes, 9-5. Illinois emerged with a 5-4 win over Minnesota in game two.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back To Conference Play

After a less than stellar midweek (I know, I know. You wonder just how long am I going to lament that?), Big Ten sides return to conference action this weekend. Here's is what is on tap.

Indiana is heading to face a Penn State club close to conference tournament eligible. First place Northwestern travels to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes. Ohio State is hosting Purdue in a critical match-up of teams still hoping to claim first place in the regular season. Illinois looks to get back into the conference tournament race at Minnesota. Michigan and Michigan State split hosting their important four game series. Friday and Sunday are in Ann Arbor. Saturday's doubleheader is at Oldsmobile Park in East Lansing.

For those in Michigan and, perhaps, elsewhere, that get Comcast Local, the Michigan/MSU games on Saturday and Sunday will be televised. Antoine Pitts of The Ann Arbor News previews the Blue vs. Green baseball clash. Did I note that Michigan State beat the you-know-what out of Toledo, 23-4?

Sunday's Illinois at Minnesota game gets TV time, too. Fox Sports North is picking up the contest.

Big Ten OPS Numbers

Here's this week's Big Ten 1000 OPS club. Mitch Hilligoss, Purdue, leads at 1.177. Michigan State's Ryan Basham is second at 1.085. Third belongs to Eric Fryer of Ohio State at 1.059. Fellow Buckeye Ronnie Bourquin is next at 1.058. A third OSU standout, SS Jedidiah Stephen is fifth at 1.016. There is a tie for the final spot. Michigan State's Steve Gerstenberger and Northwestern's Antonio Mule are both at 1.004.

At no additional cost to you, I also provide a look at those players in the Mid-American Conference who are holding an OPS figure above 1000. (Yes, the MAC, boys and girls. And, yes, it's confirmed. I've gone off the deep end.) Ben Humphrey of Central Michigan sits atop the MAC OPS field at 1.127. Drew Saylor of Kent State checks in at 1.033. Bryan Mitchell, another CMU player, is third at 1.028. Kent State's Emmanuel Burriss and Ohio's Willie Walker are tied for fourth place at 1.020. The final MAC regular over 1000 is Brian Toner of Northern Illinois at 1.004.

This Week's Links

Ok, my links post is a few days behind. I'll toss in a few national perspectives to make up for my tardiness.

Boyd Nation's Breadcrumbs Back To Omaha column gets serious about looking at the NCAA Tournament field. Mr. Nation concurs with what I suggested in an earlier post. The Big Ten will probably have one representative in the field--the conference tournament winner.

Ben at Southern College tries his hand at predicting the field of 64, as well. also ran this interview with Purdue's Mitch Hilligoss. It's an old feature, but as I just stumbled upon it, I'm sharing anyway.

Here is something you just don't see very often. The AP provides the full story.

The initial class for College Baseball's Hall of Fame was announced this week. Minnesota's Dave Winfield is amongst the honorees.

A not-so-little tidbit I missed from Sunday's play. Iowa closer Tim Gudex started against Illinois. The Illini have employed the same tactic, as well. Their closer, Matt Whitmore, has also made a start recently.

David Morrison of the Daily Northwestern reports on OF Anthony Wycklendt's struggles at the plate.

Mark Zdinar of The Columbus Dispatch provides details on Ohio State's midweek fall to Cleveland State.

Des Moines Register's Dan McCool recaps Iowa's triumph over Northern Iowa.

Jon Malavolti of Green and looks at Michigan State after their weekend series with Minnesota.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Yes, More Midweek Disasters

Cleveland State 7 Ohio State 5
Eastern Illinois 10 Illinois 6
UW-Milwaukee 5 Northwestern 4, 10 innings
#8 Notre Dame 2 Purdue 1

Only the Boilermakers can offer up a legitimate reason for dropping one of their two midweek games. The Irish have long since passed red hot and moved into white hot or whatever other color indicates that they haven't lost a game in about a month. Hanging that tough with a team zooming up the rankings speaks well of Purdue.

However, the remaining losses were just painful. It absolutely crushes the conference's RPI numbers and leaves me with little doubt that the only team advancing to the NCAA Tournament from the Big Ten will be the automatic berth given to the conference tourney winner.

On a positive note, there have been three midweek conference successes. None as noteworthy as the defeats, unfortunately, but these squads did what they should in the time between conference affairs. (Note: There are two or three more games left, I don't recall exactly how many but I'm certain that MSU and Minnesota both have contests to play.)

Purdue 13 Valparaiso 4
Indiana 5 Miami (OH) 0
Penn State 14 Bucknell 6

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Multi-Media Observations

I failed to mention that I saw another Comcast Local college baseball production last week. It was Notre Dame hosting IPFW. The coverage was significantly better than their previous effort. Everyone involved in the production had a better game than the IU @ MSU affair I witnessed prior. If I'm going to hammer them when they do poorly, I should offer praise when they improve. Nice job, CL.

I remain confused about the programming choices at the three Fox College Networks, though. I'm still seeing games repeated countless times. We are getting high school coverage far too often and just plenty of non-baseball coverage all the way around. I even think the softball ladies are getting overlooked. (Although, I'm going to pull a Keith Hernandez here and say I think there have been more live softball games on FCS stations then baseball.)

One other media thought. XM Radio has about six stations dedicated to either Big Ten or Pac 10 coverage. Instead of broadcasting commercials or telling me that nothing is on these stations currently, why not pick up some live baseball audio? If I can get college radio feeds online, why don't the conferences take advantage and broadcast the signal worldwide on XM? Does it cost that much?

Monday, April 24, 2006

What's In A Name?

After reading this, I'm pondering changing the name of the blog.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Quick Sunday Recap

I'm a bit pressed for time, so my apologies for not getting more in depth into the stats and for not providing links to both schools, but here's what happened Sunday.

Iowa pounded Illinois, 17-3. Ohio State beat Indiana, 8-6. Purdue avoided a sweep by beating up Michigan, 10-5. Minnesota took the series finale from Michigan State, 6-3. Penn State crushed Northwestern, 15-5.

Northwestern and Michigan remain in a first place tie at 11-5 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is third at 9-7. The three way tie for fourth is between Purdue, Minnesota and Michigan State. All three are 8-8 in conference.

Penn State is next at 7-9 followed by Illinois at 6-9. Iowa is 6-10 in league play while Indiana is 5-11.

Texas Photos

As Joanna was kind enough to link Sam's photos, I think it's only appropriate to link her handiwork, as well. Our favorite Texas fan took some photos of the Nebraska/Texas game. Good stuff. (Sorry, about the result, though, J.)

I've really got to get to work on finding a home for some of BTH's (and my old site's) photos.

Double Dip Saturday

Instead of plopping myself on my couch and watching this morning's F1 race, I'm going to provide both of my readers (who actually subscribe to a feed of BTH) with a recap of yesterday's Big Ten play. I realize you are impressed with my dedication.

Northwestern and Michigan maintained their tie atop the conference standings as both swept their doubleheaders yesterday. NU took game one from Penn State, 3-2. Tommy Finn's single in the bottom of the seventh won it for the 'Cats. Antonio Mule and Anthony Wycklendt each went yard for NU. PSU's Scott Gummo and Aaron Greenfield each homered, as well. Widcat Dan Brauer fanned eight in seven innings to improve to 4-1.

The second affair went to Northwestern in come from behind fashion. NU scored four times in the seventh to beat PSU, 5-4. Mule hit a three run double to tie the game and Caleb Fields brought Mule home to win it. Lance Thompson homered and drove in three for the Nittany Lions. NU's George Kontos notched his second win of the year.

The Wolverines kept pace with the 'Cats by beating Purdue twice. Michigan claimed the first game, 6-2. Michigan 3B A.J. Scheidt homered and had two RBI. Senior Paul Hammond pitched six innings giving up ten hits, but walking no one to post his third win. DH John Cummins went 3 for 3 for the Boilermakers.

7-2 was the final in the nightcap. Michigan's Eric Rose and Adam Abraham each homered and collected three hits. Abraham also drove in three. Chris Fetter (3-0) pitched five innings of two hit baseball and earned the win. Purdue's Mitch Hilligoss and Alex Jaffee each had a hit, run and RBI.

Michigan State moved up to third in the Big Ten standings with a split of their Saturday twinbill with Minnesota. The Spartans grabbed the opener from the Golden Gophers, 9-8. MSU came from two runs down in their final at bat to win. Adam Tripp's two-run single won it. Ryan Basham went yard twice for the Spartans. Mike Monterey posted the win in relief.

Apparently, the Gophers weren't too happy about coughing up a lead in the first game and pounded MSU in the second game, 20-6. Andy Hunter hit a pair of homers and drove in five for Minnesota. Gopher OF Mike Mee hit a grandslam. It was head coach John Anderson's 399th Big Ten triumph. His next win will make him the only coach in conference history with 400. MSU Kyle Day homered and drove in two.

Ohio State split it's pair of games with Indiana Saturday. IU won the opener over the Buckeyes, 5-3. IU 1B Ben Greenspan hit his first career homerun and had three RBI. Josh Lewis pitched six innings of six hit ball to move to 4-5. IU freshman Joe Vicini posted his third save. Ronnie Bourquin and Jason Zoeller each went yard for OSU.

The Buckeyes rebounded in game two, beating up the Hoosiers, 11-4. Jedidiah Stephen hit two homeruns and Bourquin hit another to pace OSU's offense. Stephen finished the day with four RBI. IU's Greenspan also drove in two more runs in the nightcap. OSU's Jake Hale (2-3) went six inning for the win.

Illinois swept Iowa and put itself back into the running for a Big Ten tournament slot. The Illini downed the Hawkeyes, 4-3, in the opener. Freshman Ben Reeser pitched six innings allowing five hits and three runs to improve to 3-1. Illini SS Shawn Roof was 2 for 2 with a RBI.

Another freshman arm led Illinois to a 10-2 triumph over Iowa in the nightcap. Tanner Roark pitched five innings yielding four hits, one walk and two earned runs to claim his second win against no defeats. Chase Kliment and Dave Schultz each homered for Illinois. Schultz drove in five runs in the game. Hawkeye SS Jason White had a hit, run and RBI.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Big Ten Weekend Series

Here's what we've got for the weekend. Minnesota travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. In West Lafayette, Purdue hosts Michigan. Penn State travels to take on Northwestern. Ohio State's in Bloomington visiting Indiana. Illinois plays host to Iowa.

After last weekend, I've learned my lesson--no more predicitions. Well, no more predicitions this week, anyway.

Update: Ohio State has already beaten IU, 4-3. Adam Schneider had two RBI for OSU. Dan DeLucia posted his sixth triumph. The OSU lefty went 8.2 innings yielding seven hits, one walk and three earned runs. DeLucia also struck out five. Rory Meister got the save.

Michigan downed Purdue, 4-3. Zach Putnam pitched a complete game allowing seven hits, two walks, fanning six. Michigan CF Eric Rose had two hits and two stolen bases. SS Mitch Hilligoss went 3 for 4, hit his fourth HR and stole a base for Purdue.

Michigan State beat Minnesota, 7-6. MSU's Ryan Basham hit a walk-off single. Troy Krider had three hits, Alan Cattrysse collected three RBI for the Spartans. Minnesota's Andy Hunter homered and drove in three runs.

Update #2: Closer Matt Whitmore started Friday night and led Illinois to a 12-3 win over Iowa. Whitmore pitched 6.1 innings allowing three hits, four walks and three earned runs. Whitmore also struck out six. Ryan Hastings and Mike Rhode each went yard and drove in three runs.

Penn State walked into Northwestern and promptly bashed the Big Ten leaders, 12-1. Alan Stidfole twirled a complete game for the Nittany Lions. Stidfole yielded seven hits, no walks and only the single NU run. He also fanned five Wildcats. PSU's Lance Thompson and Brian Ernst each went 3 for 6. Nittany Lions' C Aaron Greenfield drove in three.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Construction News

Another Big Ten baseball program has launched a campaign to upgrade it's facilities. Purdue has begun taking donations to renovate their home, Lambert Field.

Penn State's new park, which it will share with local minor league franchise, the Altoona Curve, is nearing completion. Michigan State is also raising money to upgrade Kobs Field, it's on campus baseball facility.

Southeast Baseball On The Air

How did I miss this? SE is broadcasting a weekly show. No, you aren't going to get coverage of teams up here in the snowbelt, but it's still worth a listen if you love college baseball.

I've been contemplating a podcast or some audio posting, but after hearing Craig Jackson's deep, near perfect radio voice, my enthusiasm has diminished. I can't compete with that.

Photo Gallery, Part II

If you loved Sam's photos from last Friday night's Ohio State at Michigan game, and everyone did, then you'll love this crop of photos from Sunday's finale of that series.

Midterm Awards

I've always wanted to do a midterm conference award post. Today, I appear to have the time, so let's look at some potential award winners and other things of note as we approach the halfway point in the Big Ten schedule.

Surprise of the Year: Northwestern
Was there any other choice? The Wildcats conference run continues to amaze. Well, at least, it amazes me. Even with their 9-3 Big Ten mark, NU is only playing .375 overall (12-20). Although, in Northwestern's defense, I believe their strength of schedule was the highest in the conference heading into the year.

Coach of the Year: Rich Maloney, Michigan
This will probably change week to week. Prior to last week, this was Ohio State's Bob Todd's award. This week, Northwestern's Paul Stevens probably merits the honor (if being named my choice as Coach of the Year is an honor), but NU's non-conference record just can't be ignored. Maloney has a very young Michigan team contending for the regular season crown.

Freshman of the Year: J.B. Shuck, Ohio State
At 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA, Shuck would be a strong choice just as a pitcher, but he knows what to do with the bat, too. The OSU frosh is hitting .344 with 14 RBI. However, this is one exceptionally strong field of newcomers. Indiana's Cameron Satterwhite, Purdue's Ryne White and Kyle Day of Michigan State are right on Shuck's heels. There are another ten names on my list of candidates, as well.

Pitcher of the Year: Tim Gudex, Iowa
I haven't quite decided if I'm going to create two awards--one for starters, one for closers--so for now, it's still a combined honor. Gudex, 3-1, six saves and 0.96 ERA, gets the mid-season title. Illinois' closer Matt Whitmore is in the running, as are OSU's Shuck and Dan DeLucia, Minnesota's Cole DeVries, Iowa's Jeff Maitland, Purdue's Jay Buente and Indiana freshman Joe Vicini.

Player of the Year: Mitch Hilligoss, Purdue
Another good field of candidates, but Hilligoss is doing it all for the Boilermakers. The Purdue shortstop is leading the conference in batting average (.413), slugging percentage (.636), on base percentage (.497), hits (50), runs scored (T-41) and total bases (77). Hilligoss' teamate Eric Wolfe can make a claim for the title, too. Others on my short list today include Ohio State's Ronnie Bourquin, Northwestern's Antonio Mule and Michigan State's Ryan Basham.

Please don't send me hate mail because I overlooked your guy. Remember, it's only midterms. There is plenty of time for changes amongst my selections. Besides, my email address has apparently found it's way into spammers hands and my mailbox is filled with an unusually high volume of garbage. I'll never find your email in the midst of all that, anyway.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wednesday Night Observations

I'm not sure where to begin or even end this post. I do know that it's been a pretty miserable midweek for Big Ten baseball squads. Oh, some have won, but a number of them, including the top two, failed to build on their successful weekends. Regardless, here are some links to baseball, Big Ten style.

Indiana literally ran all over Indiana State yesterday, 11-5. The Go-Go Hoosiers stole twelve bases. Don't believe me? Can't say that I blame you. My math skills are frequently called into question and, let's be honest, 12 is a ton of stolen bases in a single game. So, go count 'em yourself to make sure I did it right. (In ISU's defense, they did steal five bases of their own.)

Not surprisingly, IU's Reggie Watson led the charge with four steals. Watson entered the week as the Big Ten's leaders in stolen bases. As a team, IU leads in conference in stolen bases and attempts, thus my Go-Go Hoosiers title stays.

Iowa has split a pair of midweek affairs. The Hawkeyes lost to North Dakota State, 11-8. (That's a darn painful loss for the league and Iowa.) Rebounding, Iowa beat the Bisons today, 13-8. Skyler Moss homered and had five RBI in the Hawkeye victory.

Northern Iowa beat Minnesota, 9-6. Apparently, the teams around the conference are looking at crushing their RPI figures.

Speaking of RPI numbers, SE Baseball has it's adjusted RPI out for the week. Purdue comes in on top followed by Michigan. SE Baseball's Mark Etheridge also picks the NCAA Tournament field. I see Michigan in as the Big Ten automatic berth. Does anyone see another Big Ten squad in their field of 64?

One team not projected into the tournament is conference leader Northwestern. Why not? Mostly because of their non-conference record, which is below .500. NU's RPI didn't improve yesterday with a loss to Valpo, 7-3. I know it's a midweek game, but you just can't lose those type of games and expect to get much love from the selection committee.

Michigan, for the second straight week, endangered it's at large berth potential by losing a midweek game. Today, Eastern Michigan drilled the Maize and Blue, 9-3. No links are available yet, but Big Ten teams have to stop losing these midweek contests if they really hope to land two teams into the NCAA tournament.

Ohio State beat Oakland this afternoon, 8-2. Eric Fryer went 3 for 4. Sorry, no links for this game, either. I checked the GameTracker to obtain the score.

Illinois pounded on Illinois State, 8-3.

The Big Ten named it's Players of the Week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This Sport Needs A Preview Magazine

Don't ask me why, but as I was researching the information I posted this evening, I got to thinking that what college baseball needs (amongst other things) is a preview magazine. You know what I'm talking about. A full color, 'round the nation look at the sport. Complete with tons of lists--All-American teams, All-Conference teams, best middle infield, best starting pitching, best bullpens, best coaches, best stadiums, etc.---plus previews of the teams, schedules, recruiting, et al. You know, the works.

Basically, college baseball needs what basketball and football have. Now, I realize an initial foray into such a venture would have to be cautious. With the sport's regional popularity, guessing sales figures would be hard. Profits even harder to come by. Maybe the colleges themselves could sell the thing at the ballparks? Look, it may rub some folks the wrong way, but the game needs all the love it can get. It also wouldn't hurt if the sport looked like it mattered to some of us, which it does.

Each year college hoops and pigskin fans eagerly wait for their annual preview magazines to arrive. Some of them (my hand is raised) have even ordered them in advance and had the delivered to their homes. The release of such publications are a sign that the season isn't too far off and get fans excited about the new year. Why shouldn't college baseball have the same thing?

Now, one could argue that Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America both produce such an animal. Their previews are good, but both are newsprint and neither are comprehensive enough. Again, the negative types can suggest that's the best you can expect for a sport with such a minimal following. Aiming low isn't going to help the sport grow or create profits at non-revenue producing programs.

Following this sport is a bit of a challenge. Rosters change over often. Schedules are in flux far longer than in other sports. Recruiting news is just this side of non-existent. However, there are enough people out there, from the staffs at both CB and BA, to individuals like Boyd Nation, that we could muster a talented staff to assemble such a publication.

Of course, the bottom line is always the bottom line. I wish I could say with great confidence that such a publication would fly off the shelves, especially in places like Texas, Florida and California, but I can't. I can wish, however. And, right now, I dare to dream big.

This Week's OPS Leaders

As the season progresses, the number of players with an OPS above 1.000 diminshes. Currently, we are down to six regulars with a mark above 1.000. The list begins with Mitch Hilligoss of Purdue. Hilligoss, the Boilermakers all-world shortstop, currently leads the Big Ten in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, total bases and hot dogs sold. Hilligoss also carries a 1.133 OPS number into the midweek games.

Hilligoss' teammate, Eric Wolfe is second in the conference in OPS. Wolfe is in at 1.079. Antonio Mule, the offensive leader of first place Northwestern, has an OPS of 1.076. Ohio State's Jedidiah Stephen comes in fourth at 1.060. Stephen's Buckeye teammate, Jacob Howell is next at 1.057. Although, Howell has missed the last several games. The final Big Ten regular posting an OPS figure above 1.000 is Michigan State's Ryan Basham. The Spartans' OF has a 1.039 OPS.

That rounds out the regulars. There are two players, Cameron Satterwhite of Indiana (1.014) and Jamey Embrey of MSU (1.149) who have OPS marks at this level, but neither has fifty at bats this season.

The (Somewhat) Usual Suspects

It's Tuesday (it is Tuesday, right?) and it's time for my usual assortment of links from the college student newspaper circuit. There might be some bonus coverage tossed in, but you know the drill.

Starting at the Daily Northwestern, where David Morrison offers up this on Wildcats' SS Tommy Finn.

Moving south from NU, Jason Grodsky of the Daily Illini previews the week ahead for Dan Hartleb's squad.

Making a hard right turn and heading west, Ryan Long of The Daily Iowan says the Hawkeyes baseball team is looking for some confidence.

Corey McLaughlin of the Daily Collegian looks at the path Seth Whitehill has taken to join Penn State's baseball program.

Indiana's game against Indiana State is previewed by Jake Brown of the Indiana Daily Student.

While Ohio State is no longer in the NCBWA Top 30, both the Buckeyes and Michigan, who swept OSU over the weekend, did get votes in this week's poll.

Here is Ian's post on our blogger meeting at Ray Fisher Stadium last Friday night. I invited someone to their very first college baseball game and I think he liked it. My work here is done.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More Photos

Sam finally got flickr to work, technically her internet connection was the issue, not the host, and you can now view her photos of Friday night's Ohio State at Michigan game. Many thanks to Sam for providing the link and offering me the opportunity to use her work.

Weekend Games And Conference Standings

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).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Michigan vs. Ohio State Photos

Here is Michigan 2B/OF/C Doug Pickens.

Michigan vs. Ohio State Photos

Here is Ohio State starter Dan DeLucia.

Upset Friday

My self-proclaimed Rivalry Week, see previous post, got off to quite a bang yesterday. Depending on your perspective, you could argue that every result in Big Ten baseball play Friday was an upset. Now, not all upsets are equal (think nine seeds beating eight seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament), but it was a fairly surprising day around the conference.

It begins for me in Ann Arbor where I spent Friday evening. When I heard that freshman Zach Putnam (photo top left, copyright Big Ten Hardball, btw) was going to make his first collegiate start for Michigan against #24 Ohio State, I thought two things. First, "Cool, I get to see Putnam make his first start". Second? "Giving a freshman his first start on Friday night against your hated rival, who just happens to be red hot, seems a tad risky". In the end, I learned why Rich Maloney coaches baseball and why I (poorly) write about it.

Putnam went 7.1 innings allowing only one OSU run and earned the win. Now, Putnam did get a bit of help for his mates. Michigan prevailed over #24 Ohio State, 14-3. Eric Rose and Mike Schmidt each had a pair of hits and drove in three runs for U of M. One of Schmidt's hits was his sixth homer of the year. If there was an offensive star for the Buckeyes, it was Matt Angle who had two hits and a RBI.

Back to Putnam for a moment. He started a bit rough, as one would expect from a freshman making his first start, but he settled down fairly quickly. Again, his run support probably did help, but college baseball can be a high scoring affair, so let's give the guy credit for keeping a potent OSU offense in check for seven innings.

I thought Putnam's off-speed stuff was the key. It appeared he kept the Buckeyes off balance most of the game. I didn't sit close enough to the radar gun folks to know what his fastball was clocked at, but Putnam impressed me more because he appeared to be a pitcher and not a thrower.

Dan DuLucia, OSU's starter, did get roughed up, but you can see why he's successful. He works fast and throws strikes. He's going to win quite a bit more before the season is done. I'm planning on heading back out to Ray Fisher Stadium today, so I'll hopefully have more to post about this series tonight.

Attention! We interrupt this post for some personal stuff and a shameless plug or two. At the game, I did get to meet a couple of fellow bloggers. Ian of Sweaty Men Endeavors , Fried Rice Thoughts and Motor City Sports Magazine and Sam of Blue Cats and Red Sox, Chicks Talk Football and Roar of the Tigers joined me (and Mrs. BTH) at The Fish.

My wife and Sam must have taken about four million photos of the game. Ok, maybe it was more like four hundred, not four million. It's still a ton-o-photos. Eventually, a link to most of all of them will appear in this space.

Ian and Sam are both intelligent, funny and very good writers. They actually know stuff that doesn't pertain to sports, as well. I strongly encourage you to check out their blogs. I also look forward to the next time we meet and discuss 80's music, the Detroit Lions, Sam's and my refusal to view Fever Pitch , blogging, and sports, in general.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Big Ten Hardball post. Thank you for your patience.

Let's see if I understand this correctly. A team cranks out 26 hits and scores 18 runs and loses? Yep, you read that right--26 hits and 18 runs. And loses. Yet, that was Illinois' fate last night as Northwestern's magical (is it too soon to use that word?) season continues. Pat McMahon and Antonio Mule eached jacked a pair of dingers in leading NU past the Fighting Illini, 19-18. The win, combined with OSU's defeat, gives NU sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

McMahon hit for the cycle and drove in six of Northwestern's 19 tallies. Mule had four hits and just as many RBI. From the blue and orange perspective, Joe Bonadonna went 4 for 4 and five of his teammates had three hits a piece, although it wasn't quite enough.

Upset #3, if you are counting: Indiana bests Purdue, 8-4. Jay Brant and Zach Boswell each went yard for IU. Doug Fleenor posted his first win of the year in relief. Amazingly, the Go-Go Hoosiers only stole one base Friday. I'm just not sure what to think about that. Purdue's Neal Gorka went 3 for 4 and homered in the loss.

It's difficult to consider Minnesota's 9-0 triumph over Iowa an upset, although the Gophers were lower in the standings heading into Friday night, but I am surprised that Iowa didn't muster any offense. Brian Bull worked the first seven innings and improved his record to 3-3. 2B Luke McLean's three RBI led the Golden Gopher attack.

An interesting item I found while reviewing the boxscore, there were six batters hit by pitch. Doesn't that seem like an unusually high figure?

In what I think constitutes a mild upset, Penn State clipped Michigan State, 10-9, in ten innings. PSU's James Leitgeb knocked in the winner in the tenth with a single. Gary Amato picked up his fourth win of the year in relief. Lance Thompson and Cory Wine eached collected three hits.

Ryan Basham, basically my Pick to Click this weekend, homered for the Spartans. MSU also stole six bases (Basham stole his eighth). Apparently, I may need to start calling MSU the Go-Go Spartans.

Saturday is doubleheader day around the Big Ten, so the conference race can get even more scrambled today.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rivalry Weekend

If this weekend's Big Ten baseball match-ups were occcuring in football or basketball, ESPN would be touting it as Rivarly Week. Alas, it's baseball and I'm not even sure if any of the games are being broadcast locally let alone on cable giants. That doesn't, however, alter the fact that the hardball games beginning today feature some of the better rivalries in the conference.

In Bloomington, Purdue (5-3/18-9) takes on Indiana (2-6/10-18). This baseball series between the schools in basketball crazed Indiana should be good, as well. The Boilermakers, led by the big bats of Mitch Hilligoss and Eric Wolfe, take on the Go-Go Hoosiers. I have dubbed them the Go-Go Hoosiers because IU has three of the top four conference leaders in stolen bases. In addition to running like crazy, IU has freshman DH Cameron Satterwhite hitting .500 in Big Ten, which is tops in the league.

You have to like Purdue's chances this weekend. IU remains at the bottom of the Big Ten and Purdue is challenging for first place. However, this is an in-state rivalry game--whip out the cliches and let's sit back and see what happens.

Northwestern (6-2/9-18) in traveling down to Champaign to visit Illinois (3-6/15-13). The Wildcats hope to maintain the top spot in the Big Ten, while Illinois looks to play themselves back into the top half of the conference standings. NU's Antonio Mule has cooled off some, but is still amongst the better hitters in the Big Ten. Illinois' Matt Whitmore has taken over the conference lead in saves.

I like Illinois' depth a bit better, but if NU can get out in front, thus keeping Whitmore from being a factor late, the 'Cats could continue their unexpected run in conference play.

In what is usually the last Big Ten football match-up of the year, Michigan State (4-4/15-13) plays Penn State (3-5/9-21). The baseball version of this meeting will feature a battle of the Spartans' bats vs. the Nittany Lions pitching corps. The Lions staff has a number of strikeout artists and MSU can really hit. (I'm thinking Ryan Basham, MSU outfielder, is due for a big series.)

In all likelhood, the series will depend on when PSU is batting. If the host Lions can hit around the Spartans' staff, and cut down on their fielding mistakes, this series could go to Robbie Wine's squad.

No fancy pig trophy this time. Nope, it's Iowa and Minnesota in baseball action. The host Hawkeyes (4-4/14-14) find themselves one game better than rival Minnesota (3-5/15-13) heading into the weekend meeting. I suspect neither coach is pleased with this offense to this point, but both schools' pitching has been decent.

I like the depth of Minnesota's rotation, but Tim Gudex gives Iowa the edge in the bullpen. Whichever team hits better this weekend will probably win. (And, yes, I realize that's a genius observation on my part.) How about we call it a split series?

Then we get to the biggest Big Ten rivalry, #24 Ohio State at Michigan. On paper, the Buckeyes (6-2/20-7) have everything going their way heading into the weekend. OSU has tremendous starting pitching, a solid closer and their offense is on fire. About the only thing the Wolverines (4-4/16-12) get a check for is home field advantage.

Michigan's Rich Maloney has also made an interesting decision heading into tonight's opening game. Heralded freshman Zach Putnam is going to make his first start of the year against the nationally ranked Buckeyes in front of his hometown faithful. I have to admit I a bit surprised to see Coach Maloney start Putnam today, but it does making Friday night's game all that more intriguing.

Tonight's game is also the first BTH road trip of the season, so I am excited to see an Ohio State powerhouse roll into Ann Arbor and to get a look the the Wolverines' top recruit make his first career start. The young Wolverines can hit, but OSU pitching has just been so good, it's hard to imagine Michigan taking the series. Yet, this is rivalry week and as we know, upsets do happen.

Have a happy holiday weekend and enjoy the college baseball action.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More TV Coverage Ranting

This time, I'm not the one ranting. Nope, this time devoted Texas baseball blogger and college baseball fan (and dare I say friend of Big Ten Hardball?), Joanna, apparently is just as up in arms over college baseball's television coverage as I am.

Midweek Games

Bradley beat Illinois, 6-5. Jason Grodsky, Daily Illini, provides a recap.

Indiana topped Xavier, 10-6. Indiana Daily Student writer Jake Brown provides a preview and a review of IU baseball.

#4 Nebraska tops Iowa, 16-14, in 13 innings. Michael Bruntz of the Daily Nebraskan reviews the slugfest from a Cornhusker perspective. The Daily Iowan's Ryan Long offers the Hawkeye recap.

Toledo beat Michigan, 10-9, in ten innings.

Michigan State dropped Western Michigan, 7-5.

Robert Morris prevailed over Northwestern, 14-8.

Purdue topped Illinois State, 9-8.

Penn State beat Duquesne, 12-6. Mark Myers of the Daily Collegian previews the game.

Robert Mews of the Minnesota Daily looks the the Gophers pitching staff.

#24 Ohio State beat Central Michigan, 8-5.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

On Campus

Here's a look at what some college newspapers, and one national scribe, are reporting about the Big Ten and college baseball, in general.

As usual, we find Chris Weeden penning (ok, typing) another Penn State baseball column for the Daily Collegian. This one is about PSU's Lance Thompson.

Weeden's mate at the Daily Collegian, Corey Mclaughlin, discusses Coach Robbie Wine's lineups.

Jason Grodsky, of the Daily Illini, looks at today's battle between Illinois and MVC leading Bradley.

The Daily Iowan's Ted McCartan gives us a look at versatile Hawkeye Travis Sweet.

Daily Northwestern staff writers review NU's win over Indiana on Monday.

Ohio State's series triumph over Illinois is the subject for Brandon Castel of The Latern.

Indiana's series defeat at the hands of Northwestern gets covered by Jake Brown of the Indiana Daily Student.

AP's Dennis Waszak, Jr. reports on the first-ever list of Hall of Fame nominees.

Hall Of Fame Nominees

The College Baseball Foundation released its list of nominees for induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. A number of representatives were from the Big Ten Conference. Dick Siebert (Minnesota), Barry Larkin (Michigan), Paul Molitor (Minnesota), Dave Winfield (Minnesota), Steve Arlin (Ohio State), Ray Fisher (Michigan) and George Sisler (Michigan) are amongst the forty-six men being considered for enshrinement this year.

The College Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Lubbock, Texas, will present it's inaugural class in late April and the induction ceremonies will occur in July.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Results And Conference Records

A quick review of Sunday and Monday. Northwestern beat Indiana today by a 4-3 score. Caleb Fields homered for the 'Cats. The two schools split Sunday's twinbill. Game one went to NU, 12-1. The Hoosiers claimed the nightcap, 3-2. (Note to self: IU freshman Cameron Satterwhite bears keeping an eye on. He's got six hits in his last three games.)

#24 Ohio State beat Illinois in Sunday's finale, 9-1. Freshman J.B. Shuck pitched a complete game. The Buckeyes Sunday starter is now 5-0.

Michigan beat Minnesota, 2-0, Sunday. Purdue beat MSU, 4-3. Penn State dropped Iowa, 11-10.

After two weekends of conference play, here is what we have. #24 Ohio State and surprising Northwestern sit atop the Big Ten at 6-2. Purdue follows at 5-3. We've got the usual logjam of teams at the .500 mark. Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State are all in at 4-4. Illinois, Penn State and Minnesota are at 3-5. Indiana finds itself at 2-6.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Games Thus Far

Weather did in a couple of Big Ten contests Friday, so the schedule as been altered for the weekend. Here is what has occurred around the conference heading into Sunday afternoon.

Illinois managed to slow #24 Ohio State's offense some Saturday, but the Illini offense evaporated as the Buckeyes swept the twinbill. OSU took game one by a 4-1 score. Dan DeLucia posted his fifth win against only a single defeat by going the distance. DeLucia allowed six hits, three walks and struck out nine Illini batters. Buckeye backstop Eric Fryer went yard for the third time this season. Big Ten batting leader Ronnie Bourquin had two more safties and drove in a pair of runs.

Game two saw OSU prevail, 5-1. Cory Luebke followed in DeLucia's footsteps and tossed his own complete game. (Although, game two was only a seven inning affair as opposed to the opener which went nine.) Luebke yielded three hits and struck out seven. The lefthander improved his record to 4-2. Freshman J.B. Shuck and Jedidiah Stephen each had a pair of hits for OSU.

Northwestern continued its hot start in the Big Ten by dropping Indiana, 4-2. A trio of Widlcat hurlers managed to keep the Hoosiers running game in check and off the scoreboard. Caleb Fields had two RBI for the Wildcats. Pat McMahon homered and stole his third base for NU.

In Happy Valley, Iowa has beaten Penn State three times. Friday night's contest went Iowa's way, 6-1. Luke O'Loughlin posted his second victory going 7.2 innings. Wes Freie had three Hawkeye hits and scored twice. In Saturday's doubleheader, Iowa defeated the Nittany Lions by scores of 11-4 and 2-1.

The initial game saw Dusty Napoleon collect three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drive in three runs to lead Iowa's offense. Freie followed his three hit night with two more in Saturday's opener. Jeff Maitland made yet another pitch for first team all-conference by earning his fourth win of 2006. Maitland tossed a complete game yielding three runs on seven hits and fanning five.

Closer Tim Gudex claimed save number five in the final game. Aaron Seward got the win.

Michigan and Minnesota split their twinbill at the Metrodome. The Gophers took game one, 6-5. Keystone combination Luke McLean and Dan Lyons each drove in a pair of Minnesota runs in the opener. In the nightcap, the Wolverines shutout the Gophers, 2-0. Chris Fetter pitched a complete game for Michigan. He gave up only four hits, one walk and struck out three in his seven inning CG. Nate Recknagel went yard for Michigan.

The Wolverines won Friday night's series opener, 8-6. Derek VanBuskirk's homer capped a Michigan comeback from 6-0 down. VanBuskirk had three hits and drove in four of the six Michigan runs. Doug Pickens also had three hits for the U of M. Drew Taylor got the win in relief and Zach Putnam earned his first collegiate save.

Purdue has taken two of three from Michigan State this weekend. Friday night the Boilermaker bats came alive to the tune of a 10-1 triumph. Five Purdue batters had two hits a piece. Eric Wolfe and John Hunter each homered for Purdue. Jay Buente was the winner improving his record to 4-1.

On Saturday, Purdue won the first contest, 6-1. Mitch Hilligoss and Ryne White each knocked out a pair of hits and two RBI. Dan Sattler (3-3) posted the win for the Boilermakers.

Michigan State stopped the potential Boilers' sweep behind the pitching of John Dwan. Dwan tossed a complete game one hitter. The reshirt junior struck out six and allowed only a single free pass in the 4-0 MSU triumph. Troy Krider and Sean Walker had two hits a piece and Steve Gerstenberger drove in two Spartan runs.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ohio State Cracks The Poll

Ohio State's baseball team finds itself ranked number twenty-four by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Buckeyes took three of four from Iowa over the weekend and lead the Big Ten in team batting average and team ERA. Congrats to Bob Todd and his Buckeyes on being the first Big Ten team to crack a national poll in 2006.

TV Coverage

I mentioned in an earlier post that I saw the Indiana at Michigan State game on television Sunday. The contest from East Lansing was broadcast on Comcast Local. Now, as I am thrilled to see more college baseball on the tube, especially of the Big Ten variety, it pains me a bit to complain, but I must.

The broadcast wasn't, well, see, it wasn't very good. The director and/or his (or her) technical director did not have a good afternoon. Nor did the camera people. As an example, there's a runner on first. We see the generic shot from the centerfield camera. We see the pitcher's back and the batter, catcher and homeplate umpire awaiting the offering. This is where things went astray.

The pitcher turns and throws to first. However, the director (or TD) punches up a shot of the batter. The announcers make some indication as to what has happened to the play at first ("Oh, that was close" or "He made it back safely".), but we see the hitter who is looking at the play or the coach at third. Suddenly, the camera shot changes to the play at first where the runner is dusting himself off and the ball has already returned to the pitcher. Basically, it's our second straight look at nothing of note. Alas, this type of sequence occurred on several occasions throughout the game.

The crew just had trouble keeping up with the ball all day long. (Let's just say the camera people didn't have their best day, either.) It gave the impression that those in and out of the production truck didn't seem to have much feel for baseball. I believe it was the Comcast Local's first game of the season, so I'll give them some slack. They didn't spend a month down south warming up for the Big Ten opener. Besides, there is plenty of time for improvement, gang. We all have bad days at work, just most of ours go unnoticed. I really do appreciate your hard work, as I know how difficult producing a quality broadcast can be.

In addition to the Comcast Local coverage, I saw about three or four other college games over the weekend. All were on one of the three Fox College Stations. Now, the Fox coverage puzzles me to no end, as well. It seems whatever the station is broadcasting does not correspond to what the on screen guide indicates is on. That means it says college baseball, but I get softball. Or gymnastics. Or high schools sports. (I'll skip wondering why there are HS sports on Fox College Stations for now.) That makes it just a bit difficult to figure out what is on and what's going to be on next.

Then there are the games themselves. I saw one of the USC vs. Oregon State games three times, minimum, over the weekend. It was the same game each time. Not the Friday night game, one day and then the Saturday game, the next. Nope, it was the same dang game every stinking time. What's up with that? No other Pac 10 game was taped over the weekend? Forget another conference game, was no other USC/OSU game taped? (Update: I just learned that the OSU @ USC series wasn't even played this past weekend. Which is even worse as they are running repeats--three times over--of games over a week old. Is there nothing live going on?)

Well, to be accurate, at least one other Pac 10 game was taped. I saw the Arizona vs. Arizona State game twice. Once on Sunday and again on Monday. They did play other games out west this weekend, right? Does Fox know about that?

Then there is the regional breakdown of FCS--Atlantic, Central and Pacific. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, if I told you that the Florida vs. Ohio State game was going to be on, which of the three channels would you guess it would appear? Yes, you guessed it. FCS-Pacific. A game that was already over a week old between a Southeastern Conference school and a Big Ten institution was on the FCS-Pacific. Makes perfect sense to me.

I know I should not complain. I'm lucky to have any college baseball on television, but I really do want to watch and it's just a bit challenging when I can't figure out where, when or on which channel I'm supposed to look.

OPS Update

According to my math, only nine Big Ten regulars have an OPS above 1.000. Not surprisingly, Ohio State had four of the nine.

Eric Wolfe, Purdue 1.101
Ronnie Bourquin, Ohio State 1.088
Steve Gerstenberger, Michigan State 1.077
Mitch Hilligoss, Purdue 1.073
Jacob Howell, Ohio State 1.068
Kyle Day, Michigan State 1.048
Doug Pickens, Michigan 1.033
Jason Zoeller, Ohio State 1.019
Eric Fryer, Ohio State 1.010

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Weekend Action

Friday, March 31
Illinois 9 Purdue 7
Illini 1B Dave Schultz goes 3 for 4 with 2 RBI. Brian Blomquist earns the win and improves to 2-2. Matt Whitmore gets save number five. Purdue's offense is led by SS Mitch Hilligoss and Eric Wolfe with three hits a piece.

Michigan State 17 Indiana 7
Steve Gerstenberger was 5 for 5 with six RBI, scored three times and steals his second base of the year in leading the Spartans offense. MSU OF Ryan Basham goes 4 for 4 (one hit was his second homer), scores three, drives in three and steals a base, as well. IU's offense was led by LF Jay Brandt who homered (his third), had two hits, two runs, two RBI and stole two bases.

Ohio State 12 Iowa 5
Buckeye 2B Jason Zoeller hit a triple and a homer, knocked in three OSU runs and scored twice to pace the Ohio State attack. Zoeller was one of six Buckeyes to collect two hits on the day. OSU starting pitcher Dan DeLucia improved to 4-1. Iowa CF Nate Price went 4 for 5 and scored three runs.

Michigan 6 Northwestern 2
Craig Murray (3-1) tossed a complete game to open Big Ten play for the Wolverines. The righthander fanned seven Wildcats, walked only one and yielded nine hits in his nine innings of work. Doug Pickens and Derek VanBuskirk each had a pair of hits to lead the Michigan offense. Caleb Fields and Anthony Wycklendt each banged out a pair of hits for NU.

Penn State 7 Minnesota 3
The Nittany Lions opened the Big Ten campaign with a big road win at Minnesota. DH James Leitgeb had two hits and two RBI for Penn State. Lance Thompson, Scott Gaffney and Brian Ernst each had two hits for PSU. Gary Amato got the win in relief. Sean Kommerstad had a pair of hits for the Gophers.

Saturday, April 1
Illinois 3 Purdue 2 (Game One)
Purdue 10 Illinois 4 (Game Two)
Righthander Jake Toohey (2-2) pitched six innings of seven hit ball in the opener. Illinois closer Matt Whitmore got his second save in as many games. Eric Wolfe had another two hit contest for the Boilermakers.

In game two, Wolfe went 3 for 3 while Purdue DH Jordan Comadena hit his first homer and drove in three Boilermaker tallies. Brent Courdon improved to 2-2 on the year. Lars Davis and Dominic Altobelli each had a pair of hits for Illinois. Illini SS Shawn Roof stole three bases in the doubleheader.

Michigan State 2 Indiana 1 (Game One)
Indiana 12 Michigan State 7 (Game Two)
MSU's Jeff Gerbe pitched a seven inning complete game. He allowed four hits and no earned runs. Alan Cattrysse and Sean Walker drove in the Spartans runs.

IU CF Reggie Watson led the Hoosiers offensive charge in the nightcap. Watson went 4 for 4, scored twice, knocked in two and stole two bases. DH Cameron Satterwhite had three hits, three runs and two RBI. Joe Vicini notched his third triumph of the year. MSU freshman catcher Kyle Day went 3 for 3.

Iowa 7 Ohio State 1 (Game One)
Ohio State 6 Iowa 4 (Game Two)
Senior Jeff Maitland went the distance yielding only eight hits over seven innings and allowing one walk. The win moved Maitland's record to 3-0. Iowa SS Jason White had a pair of hits and scored twice. OSU's Jason Zoeller had two more hits as did 1B Eric Fryer.

In the nightcap, Fryer moved back behind the dish and drove in a pair of OSU runs and did DH Adam Schneider. Cory Luebke (3-2) pitched six innings fanning six and allowing nine hits. Rory Meister came in an notched his third save.

Northwestern 5 Michigan 0 (Game One)
Northwestern 4 Michigan 2 (Game Two)
Wildcat starters Dan Brauer and George Kontos each pitched complete game triumphs in the doubleheader sweep. Brauer (1-1) allowed five hits, four walks, but no runs in the seven inning shutout. Michigan lefty Paul Hammond also went the distance, but his offense couldn't crack Brauer's dominance. Antonio Mule had two hits for NU. Nate Recknagel did the same for U of M.

Kontos picked up in the second game where Brauer left off. The NU righthander tossed his own seven inning complete game allowing seven hits and both Michigan runs. Surprisingly, it was Kontos first win of the year (1-5). Northwestern SS Tommy Finn drove in two runs. Michigan CF Eric Rose had a pair of doubles amongst his three hits.

Penn State 12 Minnesota 2 (Game One)
Minnesota 5 Penn State 0 (Game Two)
PSU 2B Matt Cavagnaro homered and drove in five runs to lead PSU over Minnesota in game one. Cory Wine drove in two and had three safties in the opener for Penn State. Mark Wyner pitched a complete game for the Nittany Lions. In seven innings, Wyner struck out nine Gopher batters, giving up the two Minnesota runs while allowing only three hits and three walks.

Minnesota avoided the doubleheader sweep primarly behind the relief work of Tyler Oakes. In five innings of relief work, Oakes allowed the only Nittany Lion hit of the game, issued only a single free pass and yielded no runs. Andy Hunter and Kyle Baran each drove in a pair of Gopher runs. Baran had four RBI in the doubleheader.

Sunday, April 2 (as of now)
Purdue @ Illinois

Michigan State 9 Indiana 8, 10 inn.
In a game I actually saw (more on that in a later post), the Go-Go Hoosiers couldn't catch the Spartans. After watching IU tie the score by plating runs in the eighth (2) and ninth, MSU's Steve Gerstenberger tripled in the tenth and advanced home on a wild pitch to win the game.

The two teams combined to steal eleven bases on fifteen attempts. IU's Jay Brant, Reggie Watson and Keith Haas had two a piece. Adam Tripp homered for MSU and was one of three Spartans with two RBI on the day. Freshman Kyle Day had three Spartan hits. David Treager had three hits for the Hoosiers and DH Cameron Satterwhite went yard for IU in the loss.

Ohio State 15 Iowa 1
The Buckeyes offense returned to high gear Sunday afternoon. Ronnie Bourquin went 4 for 4 with three RBI to lead the potent OSU attack. Bourquin, Jacob Howell (three hits, two RBI) and Jedidiah Stephen (two hits, three RBI) each homered for Ohio State. Freshman sensation J.B. Shuck moved to 4-0 on the year. Shuck pitched eight innings of one hit, one run baseball, while striking out eight Hawkeyes.

Northwestern @ Michigan

Penn State @ Minnesota