Ohio State and Illinois are the final two teams in the 2007 Big Ten Baseball Tournament. OSU qualified after beating Penn State, 3-2. An eighth inning sac fly by Tony Kennedy elevated the Buckeyes to victory. Trey Fausnaugh posted the win going the last 2.2 innings. Josh Edgin had worked the previous 6.1 giving up only six hits, two earned runs and no walks in a must-win game for the Buckeyes. Eric Fryer's two hits were the most by a Buckeye. Rick Marlin's two hit, one run and RBI were the highlight of PSU day.
Illinois captured the fifth seed in the conference tournament by dropping Michigan State, 8-7. Unbelievably, the Illini came back from a 7-0 deficit before their at bat in the fifth inning. Lars Davis led the charge by hitting a pair of homeruns. Davis drove in three as did Nick Stockwell who also went yard. Jake Toohey, the Illinois closer, came on to pitch the last 4.1 innings. Toohey allowed five hits and three walks, but no runs. Brandon Doherty, Kyle Day and Sean Walker all left the yard for MSU, who couldn't muster a run after the fifth inning.
The wins by Ohio State and Illinois eliminated Michigan State from the Big Ten tournament (.pdf file). The field looks like this. Michigan and Minnesota are the top two seeds and earn a first round bye. Iowa, the fourth seed, will take on Illinois, the fifth seed in game one on Wednesday. Game two will feature the third seed, Penn State, taking on the sixth seed, Ohio State, in a rematch of this weekend's encounter. I'm sure I'll be talking, er, typing more tournament talk in the days ahead.
In other Sunday action, Michigan took the series from Iowa, 7-2. Zach Putnam hit a grandslam to help power the Wolverines to victory. Doug Pickens had two hits, a run scored and a RBI. Andrew Hess returned to the rotation and worked five innings of five hit baseball to post his seventh win. Kevin Hoef had a pair of hits, Caleb Curry and Justin Toole both drove in runs for Iowa.
Indiana slipped past Minnesota, 10-9. Josh Phelgey was today's hero hitting a walkoff single to win it. Freshman shortstop Evan Crawford had a four hit, three RBI performance in the finale of the season for IU. Doug Fleenor's 5.1 innings of hitless relief earned him his second triumph of the season. Minnesota's Nate Hanson almost single-handedly kept the Gophers in it. Hanson had three hits, including two homers, and drove in seven runs. The Hoosiers showed quite a bit of heart this weekend by taking two from the Gophers.
Speaking of heart, Northwestern swept Purdue by winning today's finale, 11-5. Jake Owens had four hits and became the Wildcats single season hit leader with 85. Mike Kalina had three hits and four RBI, Jake Goebbert had three hits and three RBI. Dan Schwartz gave up eight hits, four walks and two earned runs while fanning seven en route to his fourth win. Alex Jaffee, Ryne White, John Cummins and Dan Black all had two hits a piece for Purdue. The NU sweep moved the Wildcats out of the cellar and into ninth place in the standings.
It's hard to believe the regular season is already over. I keep repeating this, but the college baseball season is just way too short. Although, I'm looking forward to the conference tournament and to see how the NCAA field shakes out a week from tomorrow. I thank the fans of Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana for checking in this season. I hope you'll hang around for the tournament, but I figure most of you will rest up and get ready for 2008.
As for those headed to Ann Arbor, I congratulate you on making the tournament and wish you luck this week.