Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday Scoreboard

Opening Weekend of Big Ten play continued today throughout the rainy Midwest. I was in Columbus and it rained hard enough there to delay the start of game one. I'll provide a more detailed report of the BTH road trip in a separate post, but suffice to say conditions were not ideal in Big Ten country today.

#29 Ohio State 6 Iowa 2 (Game 1 box)
Iowa 8 #29 Ohio State 0 (Game 2 box)
The Buckeyes 15 game winning streak came to an end in the finale of the twinbill. Iowa CF Travis Sweet had three hits, two RBI, two runs scored and stole a base to led the Hawkeyes' offense. SS Jason White added two hits, two RBI, two runs scored and his third homer of the season. Nick Erdman (2-1) went five and two-thirds allowing five hits, two walks and no earned runs. Ohio State catcher Eric Fryer had a pair of hits.

In Game One, OSU plated three in the fourth and three more in the fifth to secure the victory. Buckeye 3B Tony Kennedy had two hits and two rbi. CF Matt Angle had a hit, a run and stole three bases. Josh Berrera improved to 3-0 and Jake Hale posted his fifth save of 2007. Travis Sweet had two hits in the opener for Iowa.

Penn State 3 Minnesota 2 (Game 1 box)
Minnesota 9 Penn State 2 (Game 2 box)
Ryan Stobart picked up his first win for Penn State. Stobart worked six innings and Drew O'Neil came in to pitch in seventh and earn the save. Nittany Lions' 2B Matt Cavagnaro had a pair of hits, scored once, drove in one and stole two bases. 1B Cory Wine also had a two hit game. Gary Perinar went six innings for Minnesota, but took the loss. Gophers' LF Mike Mee had two hits and two RBI. CF Matt Nohelty had two hits and stole his 12th base of the year.

In the nightcap, Mike Mee had three more hits including his first homerun of the campaign. Mee also scored three times and drove in two runs. Dan Lyons also had a three hit game for Minnesota. Marcus Mackenzie improved to 4-0 with the win. Kyle Carr posted his second save of 2007. Joe Blackburn and Rick Marlin each had two hits for PSU in the second contest of the day.

Michigan 7 Northwestern 4 (Game 1 box)
Michigan @ Northwestern (Game 2 weather delay)
Andrew Hess (3-0) went 6.1 innings allowing five hits, two walks and four runs. Ben Jenzen recorded the final two outs and earned his fourth save. C Doug Pickens had three hits, scored twice and stole a base. 1B Nate Recknagel drove in two. NU's Geoff Deitz and Jake Owens each had a hit, run scored and a RBI.

The second game has run into delays. The first was for weather, the second for darkness. According to both programs' websites, the game will be finished tomorrow with the Wolverines leading 11-3.

Michigan State 6 Indiana 2 (Game 1 box)
Michigan State 12 Indiana 6 (Game 2 box)
Jon Kibler (2-2) posted the win in the first game. Kibler tossed the full seven innings yielding eight hits, one walk and one earned run. MSU CF Dennis Jones hit a three run tater and added another RBI giving him four in the opener. Spartans' 2B Steve Gerstenberger also went yard. IU freshman Matt Bashore (3-2) also pitched all seven innings, but took the loss. Hoosiers' SS Keith Haas had a pair of hits and a RBI.

Spartans' freshman LF Chris Roberts had four RBI on two hits in the nightcap. MSU SS Brandon Doherty went 3 for 4, CF Dennis Jones had two hits and two RBI. (Jones had six RBI in the doubleheader.) A.J. Dunn (1-0) got the win pitching three innings of one hit relief. IU's Keith Haas was 3 for 4.

Illinois 9 Purdue 4 (Game 1 box)
Purdue 2 Illinois 1 (Game 2 box)
Shawn Roof went 2 for 4 with three RBI to lead the Illini attack. Lars Davis, Ryan Snowden and Ryan Hastings all collected a pair of hits as well. Scott Shaw pitched seven inning complete game to move his record to 3-1. Ryan White, John Cummins and Nick Overmeyer all had a couple of hits a piece for Purdue.

Finally, a pitchers duel. Purdue starter Ricky Heines was the star of the second game. Heines (4-2) twirled seven innings of four hit, one walk, one run baseball. Illinois' Mike Stankiewicz (1-3) was nearly as good allowing six hits and two walks in his six innings of work, but took the tough loss. Boilermakers 1B Ryne White had another two hit game in the finale.

If I've got this correct, Ohio State is up on Iowa, two games to one. Michigan State holds the same advantage over Indiana. Illinois is also a game up on Purdue. Minnesota leads Penn State, 2-1, and Michigan is up on Northwestern by a 2-0 count with the completion of today's second game on the docket for tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Illini's Roof Honored

University of Illinois shortstop Shawn Roof was named to the Coastal Plains League All-Decade Team. Roof was named to the summer wooden bat league's anniversary squad along with a number of former CPL players that have gone onto the Major Leagues.

(Hat tip: Tom at The Baseball Zealot.)

Some Big Ten Love

Eric Sorenson, of CSTV fame and fortune, says some nice things about the baseball programs in the Big Ten in his Thursday's Thoughts feature. Eric is one of the few, okay, he's the only national baseball writer that routinely acknowledges the programs in the north. (If I'm not mistaken, CSTV is using a picture of Michigan's Chris Fetter on it's homepage linked to E's article.)

By the way, does anyone in Big Ten country have a cable provider that picks-up CSTV?

Conference Play Begins

Big Ten played opened today. Let's take a look at the scores.

Michigan 7 Northwestern 1 (box)
Zach Putnam (4-2) goes eight innings giving up four hits, three walks and one run. The Wolverines sophomore fanned six Wildcats. Brad Roblin had two hits, three RBI and stole a base. Doug Pickens and Chris Berset went yard for Michigan.

NU's Jake Owens homered to drive in the Wildcats lone tally. Freshman Cole Livermore worked 6.1 innings, but took the loss.

Illinois 14 Purdue 13 (box)
I think it's safe to call this one a slugfest. Ryan Snowden led the Illini charge with a four hit game. Snowden also scored three times and drove in two. Mike Rohde had two hits and three RBI. Ryan Hastings hit a big fly for Illinois.

Purdue's Spencer Ingaldson went 4 for 5 including a homer. Dan Black was 2 for 2 and had four RBI.

Tanner Roark (2-1) worked six innings and got the win. Jake Toohey posted the save. Purdue's Josh Lindblom (2-3) got tagged with the loss.

Indiana 2 Michigan State 1 (box)
Jon Fixler drives in Chris Hervey in the bottom of the ninth to win it for IU. Tyler Tufts went 8.2 allowing only one Spartans run and walking no one, but didn't factor in the decision. Joe Vicini faced one batter in the ninth to claim the victory.

Craig Brookes was the hard luck loser. Brookes pitched 8.1 innings and gave up only five hits all game. He struck out five and and walked only one, but MSU could not capitalize on a fifteen to five hit advantage. Spartans' 2B Steve Gerstenberger was a perfect 4 for 4. Kyle Day had a three hit game, but Tufts and Vicini kept MSU from scoring more than one.

Ohio State 12 Iowa 6 (8th)
The Buckeyes plated seven in the sixth inning. OSU's All-Big Ten 2B Jason Zoeller has homered and driven in four runs thus far. Ben Geelan has four RBI for Iowa.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the Minnesota at Penn State game. It was to have started at 6:30pm EST. I can't find a score anywhere. I'm waiting for GameTracker to download as I type, but it may be quicker to the jump in the car and head to State College and find out firsthand. I'll try to check on this again later. (I don't think the rain has made it all the way to PA, yet.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bloomington Baseball Blog

I received an email today from Jake Brown of the Indiana Daily Student. Jake, if I may be that informal, writes to inform me that the ISD has started a blog about Indiana baseball, The Inside Pitch. The blog is off to a strong start and I encourage everyone to check out their efforts.

I'll be adding The Inside Pitch to my blogroll just as soon as I find the appropriate place for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Odds And Ends

I'm skipping Thoughts From The Weekend this week. I'm sure it will return, perhaps, as early as next week. However, I do have some items to share. I'm going to start with a healthy dose of news concerning Ohio State.

* On the strength of a twelve game winning streak, Ohio State has climbed into the national polls. The Buckeyes (13-3) are ranked twenty-ninth in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.

* The Buckeyes most recent win gave Coach Bob Todd his 900th triumph. Congratulations, Coach Todd.

* Gate proceeds from tomorrow night's contest between Toledo and OSU will be donated to the funds established for the Bluffton baseball team.

* Obviously, I'm happy to see OSU get into the national rankings, but how can the NCBWA voters ignore Minnesota? In his current pseudo-RPI rankings, Boyd Nation has the Gophers at #16. In ISR ranking, Minnesota checks in at #12.

In the NCBWA Top 30 poll, Minnesota has wins over #7 Arkansas, #10 Pepperdine and #18 Mississippi. Plus, the Gophers swept a two game series at UC Santa Barbara. Overall, Coach Anderson's side is 14-5. Yet, Minnesota isn't even listed as "others receiving votes".

It would be shameful if not for the fact that the polls don't mean much. Thankfully, college baseball has a legitimate national championship playoff system. (Making it infinitely better than it's pigskin cousin.) However, when fighting for respect and attention, the polls can help perception at home as well as around the nation.

* For those interested in such things (and why wouldn't you be?), Mr. Nation also has conference RPI totals, as well.

* Penn State opened Medlar Park at Lubrano Field this past weekend. 2,989 PSU faithful showed up to watch over three days. A good start to a new era in Penn State baseball.

* As if the PSU attendance figures weren't enough, it's time for more number crunching from yours truly. Yes, it's the much anticipated first review of OPS figures for 2007. For those of you new here, I usually review On Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage numbers on Wednesdays during the Big Ten regular season. They usually get their own post, but it's starting to look like my schedule may be tight tomorrow, so I'll pass these figures along here and now.

One other thing before we begin. Remember, between you and I, you are the math major. If you spot an error, you know what to do.

The list of Big Ten regulars with an OPS figure above 1.000 is limited to eleven batters. I found that number to be a bit smaller than I anticipated, but I'm not drawing any conclusions from it. Lars Davis of Illinois paces the conference with a 1.339 mark. Second is Purdue's Jordan Comadena at 1.227. Mike Mee of Minnesota is third at 1.137. Another Boilermaker checks in at number four, Ryne White is at 1.135. Fifth place belongs to Jason Christian of Michigan at 1.115.

Next is another shortstop, Jason White of Iowa. White has an OPS of 1.100. Fellow Hawkeye Dusty Napoleon is seventh at 1.063. Northwestern's Antonio Mule is at 1.059. Kyle Hudson, the baseball guy who plays some football, is in ninth at 1.033. Tenth place belongs to multi-position start J.B. Shuck of Ohio State. Shuck's OPS is 1.025. Finally, Nate Recknagel of Michigan occupies the eleventh spot with an OPS of 1.007.

* Two scores before I call it a day:

Michigan 10 Indiana-Fort Wayne 2 (box)
Eric Rose had three hits and a steal. Adam Abraham had two hits and two RBI. Derek VanBuskirk homered and drove in two. Freshman Eric Katzman worked four innings yeilding three hits and striking out five to post his first collegiate victory.

Indiana State 4 Illinois 0 (box)
Ryan Snowden's three hits were the highlight for Illinois.

Monday, March 26, 2007

All-Weekend Team

In this week's edition of the All-Weekend Team, I try to not name every single pitcher in the Big Ten to the squad and spend far too much time tracking down position eligibility. Which is made more ridiculous by the fact I can name whomever I want to the team. Yet, I still have some sense of the undefined rules that I follow. (Like the guy should have played that position over the weekend.) Let's remember that I'm writing a weblog about Big Ten baseball. I'm confident that implies a certain imbalance on my part. (Although, you can take comfort in knowing that I am not living in anyone's basement.)

I'll review at the end, but I will provide my usual caveat here. My math isn't good. (Which I realize fits in perfectly with my poor grammar and lack of writing skills.) So, if you find a number or seven off, please drop me a line. Thank you.

Catcher - Dusty Napoleon, Iowa (7 for 11, 3 runs, 7 rbi, 2 bb)
Catcher - Rob Yodice, Penn State (4 for 9, 3 runs, 5 rbi)
Firstbase - Nate Recknagel, Michigan (6 for 12, 3 runs, rbi)
Secondbase - Eric Osborn, Purdue (4 for 10, 6 rbi, sb)
Shortstop - Tommy Finn, Northwestern (5 for 11, 5 runs, 5 rbi, 2 bb, sb, hr)
Thirdbase - Jake Owens, Northwestern (9 for 13, 5 runs, 8 rbi, bb, 5 sb)
Outfield - Zach Putnam, Michigan (6 for 12, 2 runs, 7 rbi, bb)
Outfield - Matt Nohelty, Minnesota (6 for 12, 3 runs, 3 rbi, 4 sb)
Outfield - Doug Pickens, Michigan (8 for 13, 3 runs, 3 rbi)
Designated Hitter - Jason Christian, Michigan (8 for 17, 5 runs, 5 rbi)

Bench - Lars Davis, Illinois (4 for 4, 2 runs, 2 rbi, 2 hr, bb)
Bench - Jacob Howell, Ohio State (3 for 4, 3 rbi)
Bench - Dennis Jones, Michigan State (2 for 4, 2 runs, 2 rbi, 4 sb)
Bench - John Cummins, Purdue (5 for 9, 3 runs, 3 rbi)

Starter - Ricky Heines, Purdue (9.0 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 8 k in complete game win vs. WIU)
Starter - Ethan Vogt, Minnesota (9.0 ip, 7 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 3 k in complete game win vs. Hartford)
Starter - Craig Clark, Penn State (8.0 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 6 k in win vs. CCSU)
Starter - Steve Turnbull, Iowa (7.0 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bbb, 7 k in win vs. NDSU)
Starter - Mike Wilson, Michigan (7.0 ip, 1 hit, 0 r, 0 er, 2 bb, 9 k in win vs. Oakland)
Starter - Andrew Hess, Michigan (7.0 ip, 5 h, 1 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 4 k in complete game win vs. Oakland)
Starter - Dan Sattler, Purdue (7.0 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 4 k in win vs. Western Illinois)

Relief - Kyle Carr, Minnesota (3.0 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 4 k in win vs. Hartford)
Relief - Mike Schurz, Iowa (4.1 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 er, 1 bb, 7 k in three games -- two saves and a win)

As I stated at the beginning, it was a fine weekend for pitchers in the Big Ten. Lots to choose from and, somewhat surprisingly, I did leave a few off the team. As for my "bench" all but Cummins were limited to one game of action this past weekend. I couldn't put them in the starting lineup, but their stats were good enough to merit recognition. Cummins played in two of Purdue's three games.

Yeah, I added a catcher, again. Maybe it's the old rotisserie baseball league format kicking in. That or I just couldn't decide. Backstops -- Napoleon, Yodice, Pickens and Davis -- had nearly as good a weekend as the hurlers did.

If you would like to nominate someone I missed, my email appears in the sidebar and, if you are registered at Blogger, you can leave a comment, as well. (How many commas was that?)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

BA Interviews Putnam

I don't know how I missed it, but Baseball America's Aaron Fitt interviewed Michigan's Zach Putnam.

Wrapping Up Sunday

Central Connecticut State 2 Penn State 0 (box)
Scott Gaffney and Scott Kelley each had two hits for Penn State. I don't think we should dwell on this one.

Northwestern 11 Dartmouth 4 (box)
Jake Goebbert went 4 for 4 with two RBI. Jake Owens continued his great weekend with two more hits, two runs and two RBI. Freshman starter Cole Livermore picked up his first collegiate win and fellow first year player Joe Muraski earned his first save.

Minnesota 6 Hartford 2 (box)
Marcus McKenzie improved to 3-0. McKenzie worked five innings and gave up only one run. Matt Nohelty had two hits, two steals and a RBI. The Gophers continued to roll.

Indiana 4 IPFW 0 (box)
Five innings of work gave lefty Matt Bashore his third win. The freshman didn't yield a run, allowed only three hits and a walk. Sterling Mack and Evan Crawford each had two hits and a RBI.

Iowa 9 South Dakota State 7 (box)
Ryan Gryzwa had two hits, two runs and two RBI. David Conroy got the win, Mike Schurz the save.

Michigan 17 Oakland 0 (box)
Mike Wilson (3-0) went seven innings and allowed only one hit. The lefty struck out nine. Zach Putnam and Doug Pickens each drove in three runs. Jason Christian and Alan Oaks had three hits and two RBI each. Chris Besert went yard for the first time.

Purdue 5 Western Illinois 3 (box)
Dan Sattler gave up two hits, three walks and struck out four over seven innings to post his first win. Matt Jensen faced one batter and was credited for the win. Eric Osborn drove in three runs. Andy Preston got a pinch hit homerun, his third of the year.

Michigan State's home game against Concordia was canceled.

More Photos

Blogger, photographer, baseball zealot and Michigan double major Samara attended all four games between Oakland and Michigan this weekend. So far, both the Friday and Saturday photos are posted at Flickr. Go check out all of her work.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Day At The Fish

I did make it out to Ray Fisher Stadium for today's doubleheader between Oakland University and the University of Michigan. It was a great day at the yard. Of course, nearly any time spent at the ballpark is quality time. Today's doubleheader began under clouds and a breeze that made it feel colder than the scoreboard's suggested temperature of sixty-two. However, by the finale of the twinbill, the clouds departed and we had a near perfect March day for baseball.

Now, I mentioned the scoreboard. Last year, the scoreboard at The Fish became a joke to the Fisher Stadium regulars. It didn't exactly work properly and there were whispers that they didn't even make replacement parts for the old board any longer. I have no idea if that was true, but for 2007, Michigan baseball has a new scoreboard.

There will be plenty of other new things at Ray Fisher Stadium over the next year or two. Construction is most definitely underway. I do wonder why the work didn't begin sooner, like at the close of last season, but improvements are improvements. It may just be nit-picking on my part to complain about the start date.

Onto the action. In the first game, Oakland probably deserved to win. Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm the OU slappy in the crowd. Well, forgive me for showing them love because they had the audacity (misfortune?) to admit me. However, the Grizzlies left ten runners on base and hung with the Wolverines for five innings mostly due to the pitching of Matt Trausch.

Michigan opened it up some in the bottom of the sixth, and forced Trausch to the bench, but both team's offense reflected the weather -- cloudy and colder than it looked. Oakland couldn't take advantage of their opportunities and Michigan won a the kind of game good teams win even when they aren't playing well. (More on that in a minute.)

Oh, I should pass along a warning to fans, writers and announcers alike. The fake-to-first, throw-to-third pick-off move worked in Game One. I kid you not. It worked. Hess faked a pick off toss to first, wheeled and threw a strike to third to nail the runner. This will only confirm it's potential for success and guarantee it's continued use. The next time you wonder when that move actually worked, you can remember this post.

In addition to Trausch, the players that caught my eye in the first game were Andrew Hess, Michigan's starter, and Justin Wilson, OU's centerfielder. I don't know what Hess topped his fastball out at, but he seemed to throw harder today then I remember him throwing before. In spite of not getting much run support until late, Hess was tough.

Wilson looked like the prototype leadoff hitter. He saw a ton of pitches and displayed great wheels. I can see why he's at the top of Coach Putnam's lineup.

In between games, I bumped into Sam who was busy taking photos. (You can get a look at her work from Friday's game here. Expect pictures from today to be uploaded soon. If she gets any coffee tonight, there's a good chance they'll be up before I finish this entry.) Sam quized me as to my rooting interest. The "Whoever wins" answer was appropriately labeled a cop-out.

Game Two saw Michigan win a one run game, 4-3. It was Michigan that wasted a number of scoring chances in the second game. The Wolverines left eight runners on base. Although, OU did play hard after the difficult opening loss. The Golden Grizzlies scored one in the first, another in the fourth and held a 2-0 lead.

U of M answered with a three run bottom of the fourth, started by Adam Abraham's first homer of '07, and you figured the game was over. Yet, Oakland managed another run, an Andrew Stafford homer, to tie the score at 3-3 in the sixth. Back-to-back doubles by Eric Rose and Jason Christian won it for Michigan.

Chris Fetter showed flashes of his first team All-Big Ten form in posting his first win of the year. Ben Jenzen came in to close out Michigan's sweep of Oakland.

After the finale Saturday, several of the Michigan players began doing grounds crew work. There are a handful of the Maize and Blue players raking the infield grass, while others are piling in a some kind of John Deere utility vehicle and moving stuff around. I've seen the players have to move the batting cage after BP. They often act as their own batpeople (boys or girls), as they don't have one. Now, after playing twelve innings they have to clean up the infield themselves? Priceless. It's no wonder I love college baseball.

Back to the team on the field. I just don't get the feeling that Michigan is running on all cylinders. Maybe it's just the slightly better than .500 mark brought on by a tough non-conference slate. Perhaps, it's knowing that they are about three outs and three runs away from being a Top 25 team instead of one not even getting votes in the polls. Did I have too great an expectation before the season started? Honestly, I think Coach Maloney expected more than I did.

Whatever the reason, Michigan has a full Big Ten schedule ahead of them, so there's plenty of time to right the ship. (Assuming one believes the ship is in need of righting.) I may head back out to Ann Arbor for the last game of the series tomorrow. Perhaps, I just need to see more of them in person. Following games on GameTracker isn't the same as being there. If I do head back to The Fish Sunday, I should look to see if I have any OU apparel I can wear should I run across Samara.

Next weekend, the plan is to be in Columbus for the Saturday's encounter between Iowa and Ohio State. Weather permitting, of course.

Lots Of Saturday Wins

I admit it wasn't against the highest caliber of competition, but the baseball programs of the Big Ten won far more than they lost Saturday.

Penn State 9 Central Connecticut State 0 (box)
DH Rob Yodice had two hits and three RBI. Three PSU hurlers combined on the shutout. Seth Whitehill, the Nittany Lions' starter, got the win.

Michigan State 6 Concordia 3 (box)
Spartans CF Dennis Jones had two hits, two runs, two RBI and four stolen bases. Peter Wolff's one inning of relief garnered him a victory. Mike Monterey notched save number two.

Minnesota 8 Hartford 2 (box)
Gophers 3B Nate Hanson was the hitting star with three hits, two runs and two RBI. Mike Mee also had a three hit game. Kyle Carr (3-0) earned the win pitching the last three frames.

Northwestern 10 Harvard 9 (Game 1 box)
3B Jake Owens went 4 for 4 with three RBI, a run scored and three stolen bases. Tommy Finn also went yard for NU. David Jensen won the game for the Wildcats.

Northwestern 12 Dartmouth 2 (Game 2 box)
Owens followed his four hit game with a three hit finale. He also had three RBI, two runs and a stolen base. (Methinks he will be on the All-Weekend Team.) Geoff Deitz had two hits, two runs and two RBI. Dan Schwartz earned the win.

Iowa 5 North Dakota State 3 (box)
Mike Jacobs got the win in relief. Mike Schurz picked up the save. Justin Toole had two hits and two RBI. Dusty Napoleon had a hit, run and RBI.

Michigan 4 Oakland 1 (Game 1 box)
Andrew Hess tosses a seven inning complete game. Hess allowed five hits and three walks. (I'll be providing some general observations on this doubleheader in a separate post.)

Michigan 4 Oakland 3 (Game 2 box)
Chris Fetter worked six innings and posted his first win of the year. He allowed all three OU runs and five hits, but walked no one. Ben Jenzen worked the seventh to earn his third save. Adam Abraham hit his first homer.

Western Illinois 5 Purdue 2 (Game 1 box)
Eric Osborn had both Boilermakers RBI. Josh Lindblom (2-2) gave up only four hits and struck out seven, but yielded four runs and took the loss.

Purdue 7 Western Illinois 0 (Game 2 box)
Ricky Heines (3-2) twirled a four hit, eight strikeout, complete game shutout. John Cummins had three hits and two RBI. Jordan Comadena scored three times.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Previews, Scores And A Bit Of Venting

I didn't make it out to the Oakland at Michigan game today. Oh, I got out of work a bit early with the intention to visit Ray Fisher Stadium, but let's just say things didn't progress as well as I would like. Most of the problems centered on the Michigan Department of Transportation's efforts to congest all traffic in metro Detroit. By the time I got from one side of town to the other and was still a good half an hour away from Ann Arbor, I wrote off the remainder of my plan.

I hope to make it out to The Fish tomorrow, but that's going to depend on the weather. Perhaps, a good night's sleep will renew my enthusiasm to fight traffic and orange barrels. Anybody seen my rain gear?

Now, I realize you care squat about my frustration with Detroit's ongoing road construction, but I had to vent. (Although, I clearly edited my thoughts.) I appreciate your patience with me, but I'll get on to what you presumably do care about -- Big Ten baseball.

Let's begin at The Exponent where Brian Petraits previews Purdue's weekend versus Western Illinois.

Paul Cordes of The Minnesota Daily looks at the Gophers three game set with Hartford.

Indiana Daily Student writer Lee Hurwitz discuss the Hoosiers meeting with IPFW.

Penn State opens its new ballpark this weekend and Chris Agostini of The Daily Collegian sets the scene.

College baseball's chief number cruncher, Boyd Nation, provides his current ISR numbers and his updated pseudo-RPI figures.

All of the Big Ten game scheduled for today are complete. I'll start with the one I didn't get to today.

Michigan 9 Oakland 3 (box)
Zach Putnam picked up win number three and drove in four runs. Jason Christian, Eric Rose and Doug Pickens each had three hits.

Ohio State 5 Harvard 3 (box)
Cory Luebke improved to 4-0. The OSU lefty came out of the bullpen to pitch six innings and fanned eight. Jacob Howell had three hits and three RBI for the Buckeyes who have won twelve straight.

Iowa 6 North Dakota State 5 (box)
SS Jason White stole home with two outs in the 11th inning to win the game. Iowa's LF Caleb Curry had two hits and three RBI. Mike Schurz pitched two innings and is now 3-0.

Iowa 8 North Dakota State 0 (box)
Steve Turnbull pitched a seven inning complete game shutout to help the Hawkeyes sweep the doubleheader. Iowa's starter allowed only two hits and struck out seven. Dusty Napoleon had three hits and five RBI. Travis Sweet had three hits and stole two bases.

Illinois 7 Dartmouth 4 (box)
Lars Davis goes 4 for 4 with two solo homers. Ryan Hastings had three hits and two RBI. Scott Shaw worked six innings gaining his second win of the season.

Minnesota 10 Hartford 0 (box)
Ethan Vogt twirled a complete game shutout. Super sophomore Matt Nohelty had three hits, scored twice, drove in a pair of runs and stole two bases. Kyle Baran and Dan Lyons each went yard.

Penn State 8 Central Connecticut State 1 (box)
PSU opened their new yard, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, in grand fashion. Craig Clark worked eight innings to get a much overdue first win. C Rob Yodice had two hits, two runs and drove in two. Joe Blackburn also had a pair of hits and two RBI. Brian Ernst had a three hit game.

Two games were lost to the weather. Purdue at Western Illinois and IPFW at Indiana both got washed out. No other games involving Big Ten programs were on the docket.

I did get to watch two college games via television. I saw South Carolina demolish Mississippi State, 20-3. Yeah, it got ugly. The Bulldogs get two more shots at USC. I'm currently watching Arizona State beat up the "other" USC, 8-0 in the fourth inning. The Trojans have no answers for the Sun Devils at the moment. I'm a tad surprised that ASU is running and bunting with an eight run lead. Anyone think 'SC Head Coach Chad Krueter is happy?

It hasn't been the best of afternoons, but I'm thankful for what college baseball I do get to see. Here's hoping the rain holds off tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ohio State Dumps Northwestern

When is a Big Ten game not a Big Ten game? When Ohio State and Northwestern meet on spring break in Florida. The Buckeyes stayed red hot by thumping the Wildcats, 11-6. The win was the eleventh straight victory for Coach Bob Todd's side. OSU firstbaseman Justin Miller had three hits, including a pair of double, and three RBI. Catcher Eric Fryer also drove in three Buckeye runs. Josh Barrera improved to 2-0 going 5.1 innings and yielding seven hits, three walks and three earned runs.

Antonio Mule and Chad Noble each went yard off Buckeye pitching, but it wasn't enough as NU fell to 3-11. Ohio State is now 12-3. This is the only scheduled meeting between the two Big Ten programs this year.

The All-Weekend Team

I'm giving up some very valuable television viewing time (and possibly a quality nap) to live up to my promise. Here's the All-Weekend Team for last weekend. (When I can start giving you the the All-Weekend Team prior to the weekend in question, it's time to stop blogging and start playing the lottery.) Anyway, here are the Big Ten players who merited the oh-so-coveted title of BTH All-Weekend.

Catcher - Dusty Napoleon, Iowa (4 for 8, 1 run, 6 rbi)
Catcher - Jon Fixler, Indiana (5 for 14, 2 runs, 6 rbi)
Firstbase - Ryne White, Purdue (7 for 14, 2 hr, 3 runs, 6 rbi)
Secondbase - Kyle Reesing, Purdue (6 for 10, 2 hr, 4 runs, 6 rbi, 3 bb, 3 sb)
Shortstop - Shawn Roof, Illinois (4 for 9, 1 run, 4 rbi, 2 sb)
Thirdbase - Tony Kennedy, Ohio State (3 for 13, hr, 3 runs, 2 rbi)
Outfield- Andrew Means, Indiana (7 for 14, 6 runs, 4 rbi, 4 sb)
Outfield - Travis Sweet, Iowa (3 for 11, 4 runs, 4 rbi, 2 sb)
Outfield - Matt Angle, Ohio State (5 for 12, 5 runs, 2 rbi, 2 bb, 3 sb)
Outfield - Jordan Comadena, Purdue (7 for 12, hr, 5 runs, 2 rbi, 4 bb)
Designated Hitter - Antonio Mule, Northwestern (4 for 6, hr, 3 runs, 3 rbi, 3 bb)
Utility - J.B. Shuck, Ohio State (4 for 10, 1 run, 3 rbi, sb, 7.0 IP, 6 h, 3 r, 3 er, 2 bb, 7 k in W over Dartmouth)

Starter - Matt Bashore, Indiana (8.1 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 2 er, 2 bb, 9 k in W over FAMU)
Starter - Josh Lindblom, Purdue (8.0 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 2 bb, 8 k in W over Samford)
Starter - Craig Brookes, Michigan State (6.0 ip, 5 h, 1 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 6 k in ND at Oklahoma -- MSU won game.)
Relief - Mike Schurz, Iowa (3.0 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 er, 1 bb, 5 k in W over Dallas Baptist)

I admit it's my usual uneven assortment of players and positions. You didn't expect that to change because it took me longer to post the team this week, did you? There are simply no rules on who makes it and who doesn't. It's completely arbitrary. What's the point in having my own blog if I can't act on a whim? (This type of technique keeps up and I'll land a mainstream press job yet.) However, as always, feel free to drop me a line or make a comment about how ridiculous, self serving and capricious the whole thing is. Or you can just tell me who I missed and, perhaps, I'll alter the squad.

Yes, it's beginning to look like the Purdue Invitational on offense each week. However, there's no denying that the Boiler bats have been, well, boiling. Comadena and OSU's Shuck are currently leading the BTH Player of the Year sweepstakes. Reesing had to have finished second in the Player of the Week voting to Means. Mule, Roof and Sweet each managed only two games played over the three days, yet I felt their efforts merited inclusion.

The pitching staff was tough this week. I wanted to add conference pitcher of the week, Matt Bischoff of Purdue, but his terrific start was not on the weekend and his relief performance was good, but not better than a couple of other I left off. Schurz not only got a W, but was about the only pitcher to not get hammered that game on either side.

As I've spent a while on this post, I probably won't get to post a weekend preview today. You are a fairly intelligent lot, so I'm guessing you know where to look to find out who is playing who this weekend. I'm tentatively planning a road trip out to Ann Arbor this weekend. However, the forecast is dicey at best. Rain is on the docket all three days. Saturday is my best chance at getting to The Fish, but if the weather looks good tomorrow afternoon and I can slide out of work ......

Enjoy the weekend and get out to your local college and support the baseball team.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Midweek Meanderings

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Thoughts From The Weekend went on hiatus this week. As my early week ramblings have been set aside, I'll try and focus on volume this Wednesday night.

* The Big Ten named Indiana's Andrew Means and Purdue's Matt Bischoff as Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively.

* Iowa shortstop Jason White was tabbed as the Best Defensive Player of the Pepsi Johnny Quick Classic.

* AM 920 WMNI radio in Columbus has signed on to broadcast Ohio State baseball for the next two seasons.

* Justin Weyman, the voice of Penn State baseball, began hosting Coach Robbie Wine's weekly radio show Tuesday night.

* Wednesday scores:

Illinois 4 UMass 0 (box)
The Illini's Aaron Martin tosses eight innings of shutout baseball. Lars Davis goes 4 for 5, Ryan Hastings gets three hits in four at bats and Ryan Snowden drives in two.

Ohio State 16 Yale 10 (box)
The Buckeyes win streak runs to 10. All-Big Ten 2B Jason Zoeller goes yard and drives in four OSU runs. Fellow all-conference performer Matt Angle has three hits and steals two bases in this offense dominated affair. J.B. Shuck has a ten game hitting streak.

Penn State's opener in their new ballpark was postponed due to poor weather.

* The lone Tuesday contest:

Northwestern 4 UMass 2 (box)
Freshman Joe Muraski's first collegiate start was a complete game victory. The first year lefty allowed six hits and two walks in nine innings. CF Caleb Fields had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run. RF Max Mann had two hits and two RBI.

* For those interested in summer leagues, I have found this new website courtesy of a link provided by The Baseball Zealot.

* I'm still about a week away from looking at OPS numbers for 2007. However, Purdue's Jordan Comadena is probably the leader heading into the last weekend of non-conference action. The Boilermakers' outfielder has an OPS of 1.413. That's real good in any league.

* For those still waiting for the All-Weekend Team, I think you'll have to wait one more day. Yes, it will almost be the next weekend, but I do have to sleep in between work and other responsibilities. Unless, of course, you want to start subsidizing my lame blog, then I can type all day long.

* I mentioned that this is the last weekend of non-c0nference play. Amongst the weekend series, Michigan hosts Oakland University. Veteran readers (reader?) of BTH will know that OU was kind enough to accept my tuition several years ago, thus I root for the Golden Grizzlies. (Although, if you think about it, I paid them. Maybe they should be rooting for me?) Anyway, these match-ups with Big Ten baseball programs do pose a bit of a dilemma for me.

* For those unaware, OU head coach Dylan Putnam is the brother of Michigan sophomore sensation Zach Putnam. Dylan spent his college career pitching for Michigan State.

* Finally, a heartfelt farewell Todd Lamb, Assistant Athletics Communications Director for The Ohio State University. Todd, a friend of BTH, has landed a job with the Texas Rangers. In addition to being the baseball SID for the Buckeyes, Todd is a past president of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. His support of college baseball, especially those programs in the north, will be missed. On a personal note, I'll miss his insights on the inner workings of college baseball. Thanks, Todd and good luck in The Show.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Yesterday And Today

Yes, I'm tardy with yesterday's results. However, I'm on top of today's results. I'll take a .500 average any day.

(Editor's note: My usual Thoughts From The Weekend feature may get pushed back to Tuesday, unless I'm up late tonight. I also hope to get the All-Weekend Team up within the next 48 hours, as well.)

Minnesota 5 #8 Pepperdine 4 (box)

Ohio State 6 Dartmouth 3 (box)

Ohio State 8 Jacksonville State 3 (box)

Oklahoma 5 Michigan State 0 (box)

UMass 10 Northwestern 7 (box)

Purdue 7 Samford 6 (box)

Illinois 17 Yale 5 (box)

Jacksonville State 13 Northwestern 2 (box)

Ohio State 11 Yale 3 (box)

Illinois 20 Dartmouth 10 (box)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Friday And Saturday Scores

#8 Pepperdine 8
Minnesota 1 (box)
RF Kyle Baran and CF Matt Nohelty had two hits a piece for the Gophers.

Iowa 17 Dallas Baptist 13 (box)
Johnny Bench Award nominee Dusty Napoleon had three hits and five RBI. CF Travis Sweet had three hits, four RBI, scored three times and stole a base. Mike Schurz pitched three scoreless innings, the only pitcher on either side that managed that feat, to earn the win.

Indiana 10 Florida A & M 2 (box)
2B David Trager went 5 for 5 tying a school record. RF Chris Hervey was 4 for 4. Tyler Tufts improved to 2-2 going eight innings and allowing six hits and a walk.

Iowa 10 Fresno State 8 (box)
In Game Two of their Johnny Quick Tournament split doubleheader, the Hawkeyes got an eight run second inning to lead them to victory. SS Jason White had three hits. Napoleon, Sweet and Ben Geelan each drove in two runs.

Michigan State 4 Oklahoma 3 (box)
2B Steve Gerstenberger had three hits and scored three times to lead MSU's offense. C Kyle Day, RF Eli Boike, 3B Justin Potes and 1B Evan Friedland each had two hits. SS Chris Roberts drove in the game winner. Mike Monterey won the game pitching three innings of two-hit, no run relief.

Oral Roberts 11 Penn State 8 (box)
PSU's Rob Yodice hit a pinch-hit grand slam and Cory Wine went yard, but ORU triumphed in 11 innings.

Purdue 8 Samford 1 (box)
Josh Lindblom pitched eight innings fanning eight. Lindblom (2-1) yielded only four hits, two walks and one earned run. 2B Kyle Reesing had two hits, scored twice and drove in three. DH Ryne White had two hits and two RBI.

#8 Pepperdine 12 Minnesota 3 (box)
2B Derek McCallum went 3 for 4. Kyle Knudson drove in two Minnesota runs.

#27 East Carolina 2 Michigan 1 (box)
#27 East Carolina 3 Michigan 2 (box)
Catcher Chris Besert's two hits were the U of M highlight in Game One. Game Two went 12 innings, but ECU prevailed, again. Michigan OF Brad Roblin went 4 for 6 in Game Two. The losses dropped Michigan to 6-6, ECU improved to 15-6.

Army 10 Northwestern 3 (box)
RF Antonio Mule had three hits including a homerun. The All-Big Ten performer also drove in two Wildcats runs.

Dallas Baptist 18 Iowa 5 (box)
LF/2B Caleb Curry drove in a pair of runs and Dusty Napoleon continue his strong weekend getting a hit, run and RBI.

Jacksonville State 14 Illinois 2 (box)
Illini OF Ryan Snowden goes 3 for 4. SS Shawn Roof steals base #11.

Indiana 5 Florida A & M 3 (box)
Indiana 16 Florida A & M 10
In Game One, Matt Bashore (2-1) went 8.1 innings and struck out nine. Jon Fixler drove in all five IU runs.

Oklahoma 7 Michigan State 2 (box)
Kyle Day's two hits were the highlight for MSU.

Ohio State 9 Bucknell 5
OF Jacob Howell went 4 for 5, scored three runs and stole a base. CF Matt Angle had three hits, scored three and stole two bases. Johnny Bench Award nominee Eric Fryer had two hits and two RBI.

Oral Roberts 4 Penn State 2 (box)
OF's Brian Ernst and Rick Marlin each had three hits for the Nittany Lions.

Samford 11 Purdue 7 (box)
Kyle Reesing had two hits, including his second homer, and two RBI for Purdue. Eric Osborn had two RBI and Jordan Comadena had three hits.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fryer And Napoleon On Bench Award List

Two Big Ten catchers are on the watchlist for the 2007 Johnny Bench Award. Ohio State's Eric Fryer and Iowa's Dusty Napoleon have both been selected amongst the twenty-seven finalists to be named the nation's top backstop.

Reviews & Previews

I've got a few recaps and a brief look at the weekend ahead. Let's start with a look at the games that have transpired to since last I typed.

Indiana beat North Florida, 10-9. The Go-Go Hoosiers finally arrive. IU scored ten runs and stole nine bases. The leading thieves were OF Andrew Means and 2B Evan Crawford who swiped three each. Means and Crawford both had two hits as did RF/1B Reid Briglia, SS Keith Haas and 3B Tyler Cox. Jason Ferrell (2-1) tossed the last two innings and picked up the win.

Iowa lost their meeting with Fresno State, 4-2. The Hawkeyes and Bulldogs squared off for the third day in a row, although this contest was officially part of the Pepsi Johnny Quick Classic. CF Travis Sweet had a hit, RBI and stole his fifth base of the year.

Minnesota continue their strong start by dropping UC Santa Barbara, 12-5. LF Mike Mee, who entered the game leading the conference in batting average, went 4 for 5. Mee also scored twice, had two RBI and stole a base. OF Sean Kommerstad had three hits and three RBI. Tyler Oaks improved to 3-1 with a win in relief. Kyle Carr came on to pitch the last 2.1 innings and got credit for his first save.

Purdue thumped Alabama-Birmingham, 14-4. Freshman pitcher Matt Bischoff made his first collegiate start a memorable one. The first year righthander fanned 11 Blazers in seven innings to post his first victory. Ryne White and Spencer Ingaldson each drove in three Boilermakers' runs. White also went yard for the first time this season.

Redemption Weekend
If this coming weekend were televised on ESPN, it would get a melodramatic title. Redemption Weekend seems most appropriate as the Big Ten has a chance to make-up for a less than stellar performance a week ago.

Minnesota can really start to raise some eyebrows this weekend when the Gophers take on #8 Pepperdine. The Gophers are off to their best start since 1998. A few wins vs. the Waves should merit some votes in the polls. Not to mention some RPI love.

Michigan also gets to take on a nationally ranked opponent this weekend. The Wolverines will visit #28 East Carolina for three starting tomorrow. ECU just swept -- repeat, swept -- Fullerton last weekend. A couple of wins vs. a very tough ECU club would help offset last weekend's losses.

Penn State's difficult non-conference slate continues with three games at Oral Roberts. ORU was given plenty of pre-season respect and are the favorites in the Mid-Con. While PSU has played tough, the wins have yet to come.

Michigan State travels to Norman to face Oklahoma. The Spartans have an opportunity to make a statement with some wins vs. OU. The Sooners are ranked as high as #21 in some polls.

Illinois is going on Spring Break in Bradenton, Florida. The Illini are looking to rebound for a 2-7 start.

Purdue will have a three game set with Samford beginning Friday. After getting swept last weekend, the Boilers will be plenty motivated this weekend.

Indiana will play Florida A & M. A week after getting swept by Florida State, IU should be hungry for some wins.

Iowa's participation in the Pepsi Johnny Quick continues this weekend.

Northwestern returns to action with a Florida trip. Amongst their opponents on Spring Break is Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Wildcats don't face each other in the regular season.

The Buckeyes will also be spending Spring Break in Bradenton. OSU is starting to gain some momentum and need to pile up wins.

After last weekend's disappointing results, there are plenty of chances for the Big Ten to redeem itself this weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday Night Recaps

On Tuesday, North Florida beat Indiana in sixteen innings, 10-9. OF Andrew Means went 4 for 7 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. DH Reid Brigilia and SS Keith Haas each had three hits in seven at bats. (You play 16, you get plenty of AB's.) North Florida improved to 9-11. IU fell to 4-8. The teams play again Wednesday night.

Fresno State (9-11) beat Iowa (3-3) for the second straight evening, 14-6. SS Jason White and CF Travis Sweet led off the game with back-to-back dingers for the Hawkeyes, but it wasn't enough. White finished with a three hit performance and drove in three Iowa tallies. OF Kyle Riffel also had a three hit game against the Bulldogs.

Minnesota (9-3) picked up a nice road win beating UC Santa Barbara (7-9) in ten innings, 6-5. Tom Buske pitched 5.1 innings of relief and got the win. Bill Johnson recorded his second save of the year. CF Matt Nohelty had three hits, two RBI and scored once to pace the Gophers' offense. SS Dan Lyons, OF Mike Mee, 3B Nate Hanson and 2B Derek McCallum each had two hits a piece.

Kansas gave Penn State a woodshed beating, 18-5. This is another game that's simply better to forget. Stuff happens. KU is 12-8, PSU is 2-9.

Alabama-Birmingham walked to a win over Purdue, 15-8. The Boilers issued ten walks. Ouch. OF Jordan Comadena had three hits, three RBI and hit his third homerun. Alas, Comadena broke the streak of 3's by scoring only two runs. 1B Ryne White also had three hits and two RBI. Purdue is now 4-6 having lost four straight. UAB's back to .500 at 8-8.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fresno St. Topples Iowa

The Iowa Hawkeyes began their trip to California with a 12-10 defeat to Fresno State. A number of Hawkeye hitters posted crooked numbers. DH Brian Burmester had three hits and drove in a pair of Iowa runs. 1B Wes Freie homered, drove in two and scored twice. Freie, SS Jason White and CF Travis Sweet each had two hits, but it wasn't quite enough on a night not fit for pitchers. Iowa fell to 3-2 and Fresno State improved to 9-13.

All-Weekend Team

A day later than I would have preferred, but here is the All-Weekend Team. I'll be totally up front, this was a brutal week to pick weekend stars. Oh, there were some tremendous performances, but not too many posted great numbers over the three days. Basically, I had to review lots of boxscores and do far more math than I am capable of.

I'll start with the pitching staff, as they were an easier group to select.

Starter - Cory Luebke, Ohio State (9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K's in complete game win)
Starter - Jon Kibler, Michigan State (7.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K's in win)
Starter - Craig Brookes, Michigan State (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's in win)
Starter - Scott Gaffney, Penn State (7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, & K's in no decision vs. #23 Wichita St.)
Relief - Rory Meister, Ohio State (2 wins, 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's)
Closer - Jake Hale, Ohio State (2 saves, 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's)

Catcher - Kyle Day, Michigan State (4 for 9, 4 runs, 3 rbi, 1 sb)
Firstbase - Evan Friedland, Michigan State (5 for 13, 1 run, 4 rbi, 1 sb)
Secondbase - Steve Gerstenberger, Michigan State (9 for 14, 5 runs, 4 rbi, 2 sb)
Shortstop - Jason Christian, Michigan (5 for 12, 3 runs, 2 rbi, 1 sb; hit for cycle vs. Oklahoma)
Thirdbase - Brandon Wikoff, Illinois (4 for 12, 2 runs, 3 rbi)
Outfield - Justin Potes, Michigan State (6 for 13, 3 runs, 3 rbi, 2 sb)
Outfield - Ryan Snowden, Illinois (4 for 11, 5 runs, 3 sb)
Outfield - Kyle Hudson, Illinois (3 for 8, 1 run, 3 rbi, 2 bb, 3 sb)
Utility - J.B. Shuck, Ohio State (6 for 10, 3 runs, 2 RBI; 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K's)

Note a repeating theme here? Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois are well represented. In large part, because they actually mustered some consistent offense. That led to victories, as well. Of course, not playing nationally ranked teams helped, too, but every team in the Big Ten must post wins regardless of who is on the schedule.

As I had to review and re-review (is that a word?) lots of boxscores, there is even greater potential than normal that I may have missed someone who is deserving. If you know of someone who merits inclusion, as always, drop me an email or post something in the comments section here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thoughts From The Weekend

This is going to be an abbreviated version of TFTW. You are going to have to wait for Tuesday, at the earliest, to gander at my All-Weekend Team. I just don't have it ready and while several selections were obvious, plenty of others were not. Big Ten bats, in particular, were dormant this past weekend. The other reason for a shortened version is that I'm stinking tired. Perhaps, the time change has done me in? You don't care, but these two items are conspiring against a full edition of TFTW. However, I'll plug away. (If I should happen to fall asleep, just leave me be.)

Crawling Before You Walk
Isn't it time that ESPN adds college baseball scores to its crawl? We are already sitting through NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, Men's hoops, Women's hoops (WNBA and NCAA), Arena Football, college football, tennis, golf (PGA, LPGA & Seniors), IRL, Champ Car and MLS results. Would adding college hardball finals really be that difficult?

College baseball has fewer participants than NCAA football or basketball, thus a review of nightly scores would go by rather quickly. College baseball season is also short -- February to June. It begins as college hoops season is winding down, so it could just fill in the space that the men's and women's basketball results normally occupy.

Providing season long college baseball scores would also seem like a logical extension of ESPN's College World Series coverage. In fact, I would think that the Worldwide Leaders In Sports Cross-Promotion would embrace the opportunity to saturate fans with college baseball product months in advance of their coverage. This additional promotion would come at a minimal cost, as well. (That should keep the bean counters happy.)

College baseball fans get the scores they are looking for. ESPN gets to promote the you-know-what out of their CWS broadcast for months at a relatively low cost and look like the sports leader they claim to be. It seems like a win-win to me. Anybody else with me on this?

Tournament Hosts
While watching the Big Ten basketball tournament, I was reminded of a conversation I was in during the conference's baseball version last May. It was suggested to me that the Big Ten move the conference baseball tournament to a neutral site. I countered that it would take away some of the perks of winning a conference championship. However, my point was countered with some pretty rational thought. (I hate when that happens.)

A neutral site would allow the schools, their fans and the media to know well in advance where the tournament was going to be held. This past season, we didn't know if everyone was heading to Ann Arbor or Evanston until the final weekend of the season. It's kind of hard to book hotels and make travel arrangements when you don't know where you are going.

Second, there are facilities issues. A number of Big Ten programs do not have the facilities necessary to host the Big Ten tournament effectively. Some lack lighting. Others don't have an appropriate pressbox. Some have concession issues. The Big Ten needs to treat its baseball tournament like it's important. Or, at very least, they need to pretend its important. Play the tourney in a stadium with all the appropriate amenities. Give all the parties involved a first-class experience both on and off the field.

As for what stadiums to use, pick any of the number of high quality minor league ballparks that dot the Big Ten landscape. Move the site from year-to-year or find a central location (Indianapolis was the one suggested to me) that is willing to accommodate the event and run with it.

As someone who debates attending the Big Ten baseball tournament and has to schedule time off from work to do so, these arguments for a neutral site make a whole bunch of sense to me. I'm sure the winners of the regular season conference championship might not concur, but if the premise is good enough for the basketball tournament, it should work for baseball as well.

Last Inning
* Scott Gaffney continues to impress on the mound. Having not started since Little League, Penn State's senior shortstop has been giving Robbie Wine quality starts in 2007.

* I wonder if Michigan would be in the Top 25 this week, if they had managed to hold on to ninth inning lead Friday night? A win over San Diego would have given the Wolverines two wins in three games out west. Perhaps, that might have been enough to sway a voter or two. Regardess, Michigan gets another shot at national credibility this coming weekend with three games at #23 East Carolina. (Of course, winning tournament games gains you more respect than anything else.)

* Has Ohio State's Jake Hale moved into the closer's role? The Buckeyes' number three starter has already picked up three saves in 2007.

* Gametracker continues to improve each season, but it can still be darn frustrating to follow. I love the running scores of other games.

* In addition to the Indiana at Florida State game Saturday, I saw part of Sunday's tilt between Florida and Texas A & M. Wow, did the Aggies look good. Of course, A & M is nearly as hot as the 'Noles are.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Week Ahead

A somewhat surprising number of midweek games appear on the Big Ten schedule. Here's a look at what we have.

Iowa @ Fresno State


Purdue @ UAB
Iowa @ Fresno State
Minnesota @ UC Santa Barbara
Penn State @ Kansas
Indiana @ North Florida


Purdue @ UAB
Iowa vs. Fresno State
Minnesota @ UC Santa Barbara
Indiana @ North Florida


Penn State @ Oral Roberts

I should also direct those interested in learning more about the Fresno State program to this blog. It's always listed in my sidebar, but just in case you don't look for, I'll bring it to light now.

Sunday Finals

I did follow last night's Michigan at San Diego State affair via Gametracker. However, I have to admit that I bailed on the game in the eighth inning. The Wolverines were down 4-1 and that's how it finished. Faced with the potential of losing all three out west, Michigan (6-4) rebounded Sunday and beat Oklahoma, 8-5. SS Jason Christian hit for the cycle. Mike Wilson picked up the win. Wilson tossed 5.1 innings in relief of Chris Fetter. The loss dropped the Sooners to 13-5.

Ohio State improved to 6-3 with a 2-1 win over Connecticut. OF Michael Arp's two run double proved to be the winner. Rory Meister earned the win in relief of J.B. Shuck. Jake Hale posted his third save of the campaign. UConn is now 3-9.

#18 Auburn swept Purdue with a 12-6 win. The Boilers (4-5) didn't help themselves as they were charged with seven errors. OF Jordan Comadena continued his strong offensive showing with two more hits and two RBI. The Tigers record is now 17-2.

Penn State's Scott Gaffney's pitched another good game today, but #23 Wichita State prevailed, 2-1. The Nittany Lions (2-8) regular shortstop tossed 7.1 innings allowing four hits, three walks and only one run. The righthander also struck out seven WSU batters. However, the Shockers (13-4) plated a run in the ninth the capture the win.

Minnesota took the series with Missouri State by winning a 5-4 game today. Gophers DH Jeff DeSmidt went yard (2) and drove in two runs. Tyler Oaks got the win in relief of Dustin Braebender. Bill Johnson collected his first save. The Golden Gophers are 8-3 and Missouri State fell to 5-7.

#4 Florida State beat Indiana, 9-0, and swept the three game set. The 'Noles allowed only three Hoosier hits. Not much went right for IU (4-7) Sunday, so let's just tip our caps to red hot FSU (20-0) and move on.

Quinnipiac downed Michigan State, 12-9. An eight run eighth inning doomed the Spartans (5-6) today. 2B Steve Gerstenberger had three hits and three RBI. 1B Evan Friedland also drove in three and OF Dennis Jones had three hits. Quinnipiac is now 2-2.

Texas-Arlington put a hurt on Illinois, 12-5. Lars Davis had two RBI and Daniel Webb had two hits for the Illini.

It was a mixed bag for the conference Sunday. In general, I'd classify the weekend as a disappointment. Just not enough wins. Sure, it's nice to see Big Ten programs not get crushed on the road at the big time baseball powers. Perhaps, in light of the perception of the Big Ten and their recent lack of success, I should take heart in playing tougher against better competition. However, at some point, to really be making progress wins are necessary. There were too few W's for my taste over the last three days.