Remember way back on Tuesday when I suggested "Anybody can win the 2007 Big Ten Conference Tournament. Anybody."? On Sunday, sixth seeded Ohio State proved that claim to be true. The Buckeyes beat Minnesota, 4-2, to win the Big Ten Conference Tournament and claim the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They are the first sixth seed to ever win the Big Ten Tournament.
OSU won on the strength of the pitching of Cory Luebke and Jake Hale plus a two run, pinch-hit double off the bat of Michael Arp. Luebke, the conference's Pitcher of the Year, worked the first 7.2 innings giving up seven hits, a walk and both Gophers runs. Luebke yielded to Hale who went the rest of the way to earn his fourth victory of the season. It was Hale's second win of the tournament and both he and Luebke were named to the All-Tournament Team. Luebke also was named as the Most Outstanding Player in the 2007 Tournament.
Arp's big hit came in the eighth when he batted for freshman Ryan Dew. With the scored tied at 2-2, Arp came to bat with two outs and two on. Arp hit a shot down the leftfield line to score both runners and give the Bucks the 4-2 margin that would be the final score.
Jacob Howell, who was also named to the All-Tournament Team, and Justin Miller led OSU with two hits a piece. Minnesota's Matt Nohelty and Kyle Baran, both All-Tournament team members, as well, countered with two hits each for the Gophers.
Gary Perinar started and went seven innings for Minnesota, striking out eight, while giving up six hits, three walks and three earned runs.
The Gophers advanced to the championship game by posting a come from behind win versus Penn State, 4-3, in eleven innings Sunday morning. The game resumed in the seventh with PSU up 3-2. Saturday's rain forced the game to be completed early Sunday. A two-out RBI single from Nohelty tied the game in the ninth and Jeremy Chlan's 11th inning RBI double won it for the Gophers.
Nohelty's three hits and two RBI paced the Gophers attack. Bill Johnson worked the final four innings giving up just three hits and was the winning pitcher. Johnson was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Another All-Tournament selection, 2B Matt Cavagnaro had two hits and two RBI for PSU. Garrett Field and Rick Marlin also had two hits a piece for the Nittany Lions.
While conference play has concluded in the Big Ten, three baseball programs still have a big day ahead of them. Later today we learn who Ohio State will play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and we will see if Michigan and Minnesota will make the field of 64. Obviously, I'm hopeful that both get in.