As the final round of the 2008 Masters concludes, so does the third weekend of play in the Big Ten. This is a semi-live blogging effort, so the post will change as the day progresses.
Minnesota 7 Northwestern 4 - Game One
Gophers freshman OF Mike Kvasnicka homered, drove in two and scored twice to lead Minnesota to victory in the first of two in Evanston. Kvasnicka, Matt Nohelty, Nate Hanson and Jeff DeSmidt all had two hits apiece. Nohelty and DeSmidt both had a pair of RBI. Tom Buske improved to 4-3. Cullen Sexton posted the save. Mike Kalina had two hits and scored twice for NU.
Ohio State 5 Michigan State 4 - Game One
The Buckeyes five run fourth inning was enough to win it. J.B. Shuck went 3 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored. Dean Wolosiansky moved to 4-2 on the year while Eric Best posted his fourth save of the season. MSU's Chris Roberts and Jonathon Roof both had two hits in the loss.
Penn State 13 Purdue 3
Rob Yodice homered twice and drove in four. The PSU DH also collected three hits and scored three times this afternoon. Wes Borden had three hits, two runs and two RBI. Brian Ernst had two hits, two runs and two RBI. Seth Whitehill (3-3) worked seven innings giving up two hits, five walks and two earned runs.
Michigan 7 Illinois 4
The Wolverines sweep Illinois. Jason Christian and Leif Mahler, Michigan's middle infield, each had two hits, scored twice and drove in one. Travis Smith picks up win number number three by going seven innings of seven-hit baseball. Smith allowed three walks and two earned runs. Brandon Wikoff and Daniel Webb both had three hits in the loss.
Iowa 10 Indiana 5
Iowa's Kurtis Muller homers, scores twice and drives in four. Caleb Curry scores four times. Ryan Gryzwa drives in two for the Hawkeyes. Kyle Heim earns the win. Jerrud Sabourin collects three hits for IU.
Ohio State 0 Michigan State 0 (7th)
J.B. Shuck and Chris Cullen are tossing dueling two-hitters through seven.
Minnesota @ Northwestern
No GameTracker to follow this one.
Standings (as of 5:25 pm EST)
Ohio State 7-3
Penn State 4-8
Michigan State 3-7
Here are some thoughts I have as this weekend's play finishes.
Where has IU's pitching gone? I know I've been maintaining that the Hoosiers make the Big Ten tournament, but they simply have to get better pitching than they did the last two weeks. Of course, cutting down on errors wouldn't hurt, either. They kicked four this afternoon.
In the opposite dugout, Iowa breathed life back into their season by taking three of four in Bloomington. I haven't checked on the stats, but it seems to me that Kurtis Muller's been hitting quite well since Big Ten play opened.
You just know those last few conference tournament spots are going to be decided on the final weekend of the regular season.
Michigan simply overwhelmed Illinois with the longball. The Wolverines hit nine homers in the first three games en route to sweeping the Illini.
That Purdue at Ohio State series is going to be big next weekend. Somebody could separate themselves from the rest of the pack and put the heat on Michigan.
What else is on tap in week four? Michigan and Michigan State are going to play their annual home-home-home series with the Wolverines hosting Friday and Sunday with the twinbill in East Lansing on Saturday. Illinois looks to rebound at Minnesota. Northwestern travels to Iowa where both clubs look to improve their post-season position. Indiana visits Penn State in what I think is an interesting series.
Let's hope next weekend's weather is much better than this weekend's was.
Questions for the BTH readership to ponder: Who is on your shortlist for Big Ten Player of the Year? Pitcher of the Year? Let's keep it around five names.