Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday: Michigan Grabs First Place

Michigan took both games from Iowa again this afternoon. The Wolverines won the first contest, 6-3. Nate Reckangel had two hits and three RBI. Kevin Cislo had three hits and scored twice. Michael Powers (2-3) earned the win by tossing 3.2 innings of shutout relief work. Kevin Hoef drove in two of the three Iowa runs.

Alan Oaks doubled, homered and drove in two runs in Michigan's 3-2 triumph in game two. Nate Recknagel had two more hits and a RBI in the finale. Ben Jenzen threw three innings of no-hit, no-run baseball in claim the win in relief. Michigan swept the weekend set from Iowa.

Indiana outscored Minnesota, 8-7. The Hoosiers' Kipp Schutz had three hits, three RBI and a run scored. Andrew Means had three hits, scored twice, stole two bases and drove in a run. Evan Crawford, Ethan Wilson and Chris Hervey all had two hits a piece. Chris Squires got a win and Chris McCombs the save for IU.

Eric Decker and Nate Hanson both had two hits, two runs scored and a RBI for the Gophers. Decker also walked three times. Kyle Knudson had two RBI. The Hoosiers and Gophers split their weekend encounter.

Purdue beat Northwestern, 8-6. Jon Moore's three hits and three RBI help lift the Boilermakers to victory. Jordan Comadena had two runs scored and two RBI. Chris Ivanic got his first win. Josh Lindblom worked the final two frames and posted his third save. Northwestern got three hits a piece from Aaron Newman, Jake Goebbert and Tommy Finn, but it wasn't enough. Purdue took three of four from NU.

Illinois and Michigan State split their doubleheader today. Illinois claimed game one, 5-3. Scott Shaw pitched a seven inning complete game. Shaw gave up six hits, a walk and two earned runs to improve to 2-1. Craig Lutes led the offense with a double, triple, run scored and RBI. Daniel Webb went 3 for 3. For MSU, Chris Roberts had two hits, a run scored and a RBI.

The Spartans avoided the sweep by capturing a 3-2 victory in the second game. MSU's Steve Gerstenberger and Evan Friedland both went 3 for 3. Gerstenberger also stole a pair of bases and scored once. Tyler Newsome (1-1) picked up the win in relief. The Illini, however, took three of four from the Spartans.

In a good old fashioned pitchers duel, Ohio State's J.B. Shuck beat Penn State and Ryan Stobart, 2-0. Shuck went eight shutout innings while fanning thirteen. 13 K's! Shuck gave up only four hits but did allow five walks. Shuck improved to 4-1. Eric Best came out of the bullpen to record his first save.

Stobart was also very good. He yielded six hits and three walks over eight innings. Only one of the two runs scored was earned. Stobart struck out five. As you would expect in a game dominated by pitching, there aren't a lot of crooked numbers on the offensive side. Tony Kennedy and Zach Hurley drove in the Buckeye tallies. Joe Blackburn had two hits for Penn State, the only player on either side with multiple hits. The two side split the four games played.

After the opening weekend, what do we have? Well, we've got Michigan sitting atop the conference at 4-0. Illinois and Purdue are both 3-1. Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State are at 2-2. Michigan State and Northwestern are in at 1-3, while Iowa starts 0-4.

Let me toss in a few random thoughts from the first four conference games of the season.

Even without All-America SS candidate Jason Christian, Michigan looks strong offensively. Recknagel, Putnam and Adam Abraham are the best 3-4-5 hitters in the conference.

Indiana's split with Minnesota was big for the Hoosiers. They managed to hold their own in Minneapolis and that was without star pitcher Matt Bashore taking a turn on the hill. (I'll have to try and find out why Bashore didn't appear this weekend. Hey, if you know, drop me an email.)

Purdue and Penn State breathed new life into their seasons.

Iowa is not an 0-4 team. They stayed with Michigan all weekend long. Alas, their bats just couldn't keep up with the Wolverines. Even without a win, the Hawks are still in conference tournament chase.

Michigan's Putnam strikes out 12 on Saturday and Ohio State's Shuck turns around and K's 13 today. Amazing.

Crazy stat #1: NU's Aaron Newman, Jake Owens and Jake Goebbert combining for all 11 Wildcats hits, all nine RBI and nine of the eleven runs scored in Northwestern's 11-3 romp over Purdue. Newman, Owens and Goebbert are NU's 1-2-3 hitters. Nobody other than their top three guys managed a hit or RBI.

Crazy stat #2: OSU had eighteen hits, but only two for extra bases Friday night. Both doubles.

For the record, as I don't believe I've stated it yet this season, I don't like the seven inning doubleheaders.

It's great to have baseball back here in the north. Now, if we can just get some more baseball-like weather.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Doubleheader Saturday

Saturday provided us with a complete slate of games. Not just scheduled, but actually played. I was in Ann Arbor for the twinbill between Iowa and the host Wolverines. I'll save my thoughts on that until we recap what happened around the remainder of the conference.

I guess the best place to start is Columbus where Penn State gained a measure of revenge for last night's drubbing. The Nittany Lions swept the doubleheader by scores of 3-1 and 5-2. In the opener, Mike Wanamaker gave up three hits and six walks over six innings to lead PSU to victory. All-America candidate Drew O'Neil came out to pitch the seventh (and final) frame to post his fourth save. Lions' OF Rick Marlin went 4 for 4. Brian Ernst, Joe Blackburn and Landon Nakata had two hits a piece.

In game two, Cory Wine had three hits and two RBI to pace PSU. Ryan Boonie added three RBI. Mark Lorenston notched his third win of the year. Lorenston went 5.1 giving up six hits, a walk and two earned runs. Drew O'Neil saved the second game, as well. It's was O'Neil's fifth save and lowered his ERA to 0.96. Freshmen Dan Burkhart and Tyler Engle both had two hits for Ohio State.

In East Lansing, Illinois swept Michigan State. Illinois won the first contest, 9-5. The Illini were led by Dominic Altobelli and Chris Montgomery, who had three hits a piece. Illinois' 1B Ryan Hastings had three RBI. Kyle Hudson had two hits, two steals and scored three times. The win went to Kevin Mason. Manson surrendered five hits, five walks and three earned runs over six innings. Ben Reeser's one-hit performance over the last 2.2 innings earned him his third save. (In case you weren't doing the math, this was a full nine inning game.)

Mike Stankiewicz pitched a seven inning, complete game shutout over MSU in the finale. Stankiewicz allowed four hits and no walks in the 2-0 triumph. Joe Bonadonna, Dominic Altobelli and Nick Stockwell each had two hits for the Illini. Bonadonna and Chris Montgomery had the Illinois' RBI.

Minnesota took the first game of their two with Indiana, 5-4. Eric Decker's two hits, two RBI and run scored led the Gophers' offensive charge. Matt Nohelty also had a pair of hits and scored twice. Kyle Carr went five innings giving up three earned runs and posted his first victory. Cullen Sexton worked the seventh inning to post his first save. Andrew Means had three hits for IU. Josh Phegley drove in two for the Hoosiers.

IU took game two, 8-3. Jason Ferrell pitched 3.1 innings of two-hit, one-run baseball, in relief, to gain the W. Andrew Means, Kipp Schutz and Michael Earley all had two hits each. Josh Phegley homered for the second time in '08. Jeff DeSmidt went yard for Minnesota.

Northwestern and Purdue split their seven inning affairs. NU captured the initial game, 11-3. Jake Owens and Jake Goebbert, the Wildcats' two and three hitters, both went 4 for 4. Owens scored four times and had two RBI. Goebbert scored once and collected six RBI. Leadoff man Aaron Newman had a three hit, four runs scored, one RBI game. No one other than the top three hitters for NU managed a hit or RBI. Eric Jokisch went the distance -- seven innings -- allowing five hits and five walks while striking out five. Brandon Haveman had two hits and scored twice for the Boilermakers.

Game two saw Purdue prevail, 10-2. Boilers' catcher Eric Nielsen had three hits, three RBI and scored twice. Brandon Haveman also had a three hit game while scoring three runs and driving in another. Your winner is Allen Donato (2-3). Donato worked six yielding six hits, three walks, one earned run while striking out three. NU's Jake Owens had two more hits and two RBI in the finale.

This leaves us with Michigan's sweep of Iowa. The Wolverines won game one, 4-3 in ten innings. Basically, this game was the Zach Putnam Show. On the mound, Michigan's All-America candidate gave up just three hits over eight innings while striking out twelve. Yep, twelve K's. Putnam didn't allow an earned run, as the Wolverines committed three errors. However, Putnam didn't earn the win. That went to Tyler Burgoon in relief. With the bat, Putnam won the game in the tenth with a RBI double. Putnam had hit his first homer earlier in the game. He ended up 3 for 5 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored.

Lost in all of Putnam's exploits was the fine game tossed by Iowa's Michael Jacobs. The lefty went 7.1 innings giving up seven hits and two earned runs, but he didn't walk a batter. He was the Black and Gold's star for me.

The Zach Putnam Experience carried over in the game two. Iowa had gone out to a 3-0 lead when Michigan came to the plate in the fifth. The Wolverines scored three times to tie the game when, with two outs, Putnam launched a mammoth homerun to put Michigan in front, 5-3, which ended up the final score. Chris Fetter (4-0) tossed a seven inning complete game in the nightcap. The righthander yielded three hits, a walk and three earned runs. Fetter also fanned six.

Just as in the first game, Iowa's starting pitcher was the story in game two. Brock Alberts gave up five hits, a walk and two earned runs, but took the loss. Kevin Hoef had two hits and two runs scored for the Hawkeyes.

Sunday's schedule calls for doubleheaders in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, while the other three venues have single contests to close out the first weekend of Big Ten action.

OSU Photos

BTH reader rockybuckeye was kind enough to pass along some pictures of last night's Penn State versus Ohio State game. He promises more as the weekend continues, so check in often.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Early Friday Returns

Purdue has shutout Northwestern, 3-0. Matt Bischoff goes 7.2 to post his first win. Bischoff gives up only four hits and three walks. The sophomore lefty also strikes out eight Wildcats. Josh Lindblom earns his second save. Ryne White and Dan Black both have a pair of hits to lead the Purdue bats. White, who everyone around here suggested would heat up, also went yard.

Northwestern's Joe Muraski went a full eight innings yielding only one earned run. NU made a pair of errors on the day. Nate Roberts and Chris Lashmet each had two hits for NU.

Ohio State came out an dropped an eight spot on Penn State in the bottom of the first inning. It's now the second, but OSU is up 8-0. Cory Kovanda, J.B. Shuck and Cory Rupert all have two hits, Ryan Meade and Ryan Dew both have a pair of RBI. Jake Hale is on the mound for the Bucks, Seth Whitehill took the hill for PSU.

To the surprise of no one in Michigan, both the Illinois at Michigan State and Iowa at Michigan games have been postponed. Both series are now scheduled to have Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders. Both will open with a nine inning affair followed by a seven inning contest tomorrow with the orders reversed for Sunday's twinbill. (FYI -- It's supposed to rain Sunday. I wonder if I should blog for The Weather Channel?)

Indiana at Minnesota should begin shortly.

Update: Ohio State is now up 11-0 in the third inning. Yikes. Looks like it could be a long evening in Columbus for the Big Ten Network broadcast team. Hope you boys brought along some filler material.

Update #2: It's 14-0, Buckeyes, in the eighth. Tyler Engle has three hits and three RBI. J.B. Shuck has three hits, as well. Jake Hale gave up two hits and two walks over six innings. Josh Edgin is now on the hill for OSU.

Indiana scored first, but Minnesota scored often en route to a 10-2 triumph. Nate Hanson, Jeff DeSmidt and Mike Kvasnicka each had three hits apiece. Hanson, Kvasnicka, Matt Nohelty and Tom Steidl all drove in two. Tom Buske improved to 3-2 by going 6.2 innings and giving up one run on eight hits and a walk. The Gophers' starter fanned five.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The First Weekend

The snow is falling again here in the mitten, so it must be time for conference action to begin. (For those heading this way, as both Michigan and Michigan State are home, the forecast is for four to six inches of snow this evening and into tomorrow morning. The consolation is that weather forecasting is, to be polite, an inexact science.) My heart wants to crank out a protracted preview of this weekend's slate, but my brain says that's going to run past my bedtime.

This time, my brain wins. (A sign I'm getting older, no doubt.) Let me share a thought or two about each of the five series on tap for this first weekend.

Indiana (10-7) @ Minnesota (10-9)
This is probably the marquee match-up of the opening weekend of Big Ten play. The young Hoosiers are hoping to make a statement in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Gophers, however, are fresh off a two-game split with #2 Missouri and look to be improving with each week.

Can Matt Bashore dazzle the Gophers? Are the Hoosiers ready to contend? Will the Gophers have a letdown after the Mizzou series? Or does the Minnesota charge to a title begin here? Shouldn't the Big Ten Network really be in Minneapolis this weekend?

Penn State (5-12) @ Ohio State (10-6)
This looked like a dynamic series until the season began. Somewhere between here and there, Penn State has lost their way. Stats rarely tell the entire story, but the Nittany Lions are last in the Big Ten in batting average, ERA and fielding percentage. That pretty much sums up the unexpected decline from PSU.

On the other hand, I'm starting to like this group of Buckeyes. There's a nice mix of veterans and fresh faces. Yes, I'm concerned about their bullpen. Yes, the infield is, for the most part, very young. No, they don't hit many homers. Yet, I just get this feeling about the way OSU is playing. Maybe it's just an overdose of snow.

Iowa (7-9) @ Michigan (10-6)
I hope Nate Recknagel and Chris Berset keep their arms warm. The Michigan catchers will be throwing frequently as these Hawkeyes run. A lot. They've stolen a conference leading forty-two bases on fifty-four tries. Somewhat surprisingly, Michigan and Indiana (not so surprisingly) are second with only twenty-six swipes. Expect the hard-charging Hawks to keep pressure on Michigan all weekend.

Iowa pitchers had best keep Mr. Recknagel inside the park. The senior catcher/firstbaseman is leading the conference with seven dingers already. He's the current leader for conference player of the year, at least in one writer's opinion. Long way to go, of course. It will also be interesting to see how Michigan's pitching fares after Zach Putnam and Chris Fetter.

Illinois (9-6) @ Michigan State (7-9)
This was an incredible series to conclude the '07 season. Not quite as much on the line this weekend, but I expect both sides to be looking for one of those last conference tournament slots in May. A win now counts the same as a win later, right?

I really don't feel like the Spartans' hitters have put everything together yet. Is that going to happen on a cold opening weekend in East Lansing? Perhaps, not. It may help the Illini to catch MSU before the weather and their bats warm up.

Northwesten (4-9) @ Purdue (7-11)
I hate to say this, but Purdue is playing better. I hate to say it because this observation will undoubtedly will lead to a Boilers' collapse. It usually does. However, I've noticed since Purdue has moved Brandon Haveman to the top of the order and inserted Ben Wolgamot into the lineup, the wins have become more frequent. It's also about time for Ryne White's bat to heat up.

NU's Jake Goebbert might be the player most under-the-radar in the conference. He's second in slugging percentage at .720 and tenth in OBP at .460. Mike Kalina has also been stellar this year. He remains amongst the conference leaders in batting average (.472, 1st), slugging (.642, 3rd) and OBP (.509, 5th). The 'Cats can hit, but whether they can pitch well enough to take this series is the question.

I hope everyone can get out to the ballpark this weekend. Even if you can't, I hope you'll enjoy the opening weekend of Big Ten action.

High School Top 100

Sports Illustrated and have combined to provide a high school Top 100 player list. For those of you interested in such things, check out this new endeavor. I'll provide a link under the high school section of the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What We've Missed

Ok, technically, it's "What I've Missed". Strike that, too. I didn't miss it. I just didn't report or link to these scores in a timely fashion. Regardless, let me play some catch-up on this midweek madness.

Illinois crushed Judson, 15-5. I hate to admit this, but until just a few days ago, I had never heard of Judson. I've already learned something new this week. The Illini's Craig Lutes homered amongst his three hits and drove in four. Kyle Hudson collected three hits, two RBI, two runs scored, two steals and hit a sac fly. Your winner was Mike Stankiewicz (1-0).

Indiana beat Xavier today, 10-4. Hoosiers' RF Kipp Schutz had four hits, three RBI and scored a run. Josh Phegley had a pair of hits, three RBI and scored three times. Chris McCombs earned his first victory of '08.

Iowa downs Western Illinois, 7-4. Kyle Riffel drives in three. Kevin Hoef scores twice and drive in two more. The win goes to Brock Alberts (2-1) in relief.

Michigan had their Monday game vs. Oakland and Tuesday game vs. Bowling Green postponed. Supposedly, the Maize and Blue are playing IPFW right now after a two-hour delay. (I can't speak to the delay, as it was around 50 degrees and sunny in my portion of southeastern Michigan.)

Michigan State had to skip playing yesterday and probably wish they had done so again today. Eastern Michigan pounded MSU, 10-3. Spartans 1B Evan Friedland's two hits, including a homerun, were the highlight. This a painfully bad RPI loss for MSU. (Although, I don't think EMU is really a 2-17 ballclub.)

In what has to be the best news for baseball across the conference this week, Minnesota took out #2 Missouri, 12-5. Matt Nohelty, Nate Hanson, Derek McCallum and Jeremy Chlan all had three hit games to pace the 18-hit Gopher attack. Nohelty, Hanson, Chlan and Eric Decker all had two RBI. Nohelty and McCallum scored three times. Seth Rosin's (1-0) four innings of two hit relief work got him the win. Luke Rasmussen yielded a single hit over three innings to notch his first save.

Of course, the second ranked Tigers did beat Minnesota on Tuesday, 17-8. Missouri OF Aaron Senne had four hits, including going yard twice, and eight RBI. Yes, eight. Minnesota 3B Nate Hanson had a four hit performance as well. Hanson hit his first homerun of 2008. Gopher CF Matt Nohelty had three hits.

Ohio State open the home schedule with a convincing 9-1 triumph over Pittsburgh. Freshman Andrew Armstrong gave up only two hits, two walks and one unearned run over five innings to earn his second win. Armstrong also fanned five. Fellow freshman Ryan Meade led the hit parade with two hits and three RBI. Sophomores Cory Kovanda and Cory Rupert each had a pair of hits and a RBI.

Canisius beat up Penn State, 11-6. Canisius 3B Kevin Mahoney hit his third homer and drove in three. Ryan Asis and Kevin Mailloux each had three hits a piece. Brian Ernst, Wes Borden and Cory Wine all had multiple hits games for PSU. No, PSU fans, I don't have any answers, either.

Finally, in things I've under-reported, the conference announced the Players of the Week. Cory Kovanda of OSU and Jon Moore of Purdue split the hitter honors. Minnesota's Scott Matyas captured the pitching award.

Wednesday OPS

It's another edition of your favorite post, Wednesday OPS. For newcomers to BTH, I usually post on-base percentage plus slugging percentage numbers on Wednesday. Why on Wednesday? I just don't know, but it has persevered almost to the point of tradition. Now, with my sporadic posting thus far in '08, that tradition might be in jeopardy, but let's not dwell on that and enjoy today's numbers.

We've got ten Big Ten players with OPS marks above 1.000. The group is led by Michigan's Nate Recknagel at 1.282. The next two spots are held down by Northwestern standouts. Jake Goebbert has elevated himself to second place at 1.180. The NU sophomore is followed by teammate Mike Kalina at 1.151. Fourth place is held down by Caleb Curry of Iowa at 1.113. The fifth slot is owned by Indiana's Josh Phegley at 1.104.

The second half of the top ten begins with Kyle Hudson of Illinois at 1.094. Jeff DeSmidt of Minnesota checks in next at 1.074. The Gophers' catcher is followed by Ryan Hastings of Illinois at 1.067. In ninth place is Ohio State's Cory Kovanda at 1.033. The top ten concludes with Adam Abraham of Michigan at 1.006.

All of these figures are as of 3/26/08. In addition, this was based on a minimum of 40 at bats. (The 40 AB mark was totally arbitrary on my part.)

I must also leave you with the standard caveat. The math here, much like the writing, is questionable. If I've made a miscalculation (is that a word?), it wouldn't be the first time. Drop me a note and I'll attempt to correct my boo-boo. There's also a chance I've overlooked someone. Again, if you find I've skipped somebody, let me know.

It's good to see such a strong field above the 1.000 plateau. Hopefully, we will have just as many on the list when the conference season closes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday: IU, Purdue Win

We don't have all the finals, but here's what's happened thus far this Easter Sunday.

Indiana's good season continues as the Hoosiers bounce IPFW, 4-2. Kipp Schutz homered and drove in two. Chris Hervey had two hits and two steals. Tyler Tufts (2-2) went seven innings to post the victory. Tufts gave up five hits, two walks and no earned runs. Tufts struck out five, as well. Chris Squires came on to earn his second save.

Purdue won the first of two against Western Illinois, 11-2. Drew Madia homered and drove in three. Ryne White homered, scored twice and had two RBI. Ben Wolgamot had three hits. Jon Moore also collected three hits. Connor Sestak went five innings to get his first win of 2008. Sestak allowed only two hits and three walks that resulted in a single earned run. Sestak fanned five.

The Boilers have just exploded for 12 runs in the fourth to lead WIU, 14-4, in game two.

Northwestern dropped both ends of a split doubleheader. Kansas outslugged the Wildcats, 12-11. KU catcher Buck Afenir drove in five on three hits including his third homer. NU's Jake Goebbert did one better, as he had four hits (and, yes, his third homer) and drove in six. Freshman 3B Chris Lashmet also went yard and had two RBI.

Dartmouth was one better than NU in game two, 6-5. Alas, I've got nothing to report on this game as of yet.

Lehigh dropped Penn State, 3-1. Lehigh broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the ninth. Joe Ercolano had three hits and two RBI to lead Lehigh. Greg Angelo went eight innings holding the Nittany Lions to four hits and a run. Jordan Warncke got the final two outs for Lehigh. The Nittany Lions wasted another good outing from Mike Wanamaker. Wanamker went seven giving up five hits, three walks and a run. Ryan Boonie drove in the lone PSU run.

PSU is up in the second game, 2-0, in the second inning.

There's nothing to report from the Minnesota vs. South Dakota State contest as of yet.

The proposed twinbill between Oakland and Michigan State was postponed. Again. I'm not surprised as the snow remains on my lawn in spite of the sunshine. This game won't be played tomorrow, either, as OU returns to Ann Arbor to make up for last Wednesday postponement versus Michigan.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Purdue, Minnesota & Iowa Win

Purdue swept a doubleheader today. Isn't that how they got their first two wins of the year, as well? Perhaps, the Boilers just need to play more twinbills. Regardless, the good news is that Purdue took two from Western Illinois today. The better news is that both were shutout wins.

In game one, Allen Donato's seven innings of four-hit shutout baseball earned him his first win. Donato combined with Josh Lindblom to lead Purdue to a 6-0 shutout over WIU. Donato K'd five and didn't allow a free pass. Lindblom fanned two in his two innings of scoreless baseball. Dan Black had a pair of Boilermaker hits and RBI. Brandon Haveman also had two hits including a homer. Jon Moore and Jordan Comadena had two hits a piece for Purdue.

Game two saw Kyle Cook (2-0) and Chris Ivanic combine to shutout WIU, 8-0. Cook gave up two hits and three walks in five innings. Ivanic went four innings also allowing two hits, but only one base on balls. Ivanic was credited with his first save of '08. Ben Wolgamot led the Boilers' bats with three hits and two RBI. Dan Black and Ryne White each had two RBI, as well.

It took the Gophers ten innings, but Minnesota prevailed over South Dakota State, 5-4. Jeff DeSmidt had a pair of RBI, while Nate Hanson, Derek McCallum and Eric Decker each had two hits for the Golden Gophers. Kyle Carr had a strong outing for Minnesota. The lefthander went 6.2 innings giving up five hits, two walks, one earned run and striking out ten. (Yep, ten K's in 6.2 IP.) In spite of those numbers, the win went to Cullen Sexton in relief. Sexton struck out the only two batters he faced to close out the game.

Andrew Means' ninth inning single scored Chris Hervey to lift Indiana over IPFW, 3-2. Matt Bashore had another good start for IU. The sophomore lefty worked eight innings and yielded two earned runs in the Hoosiers triumph. Bashore gave up five hits, four walks and struck out nine. However, just like Minnesota's Carr, Bashore didn't factor into the decision. The win went to Eric Arnett. Arnett (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth. IU backstop Josh Phegley had a three hit performance and had the only other Indiana RBI.

The rest of the Saturday slate got snowed or rained out. Doubleheaders between Northwestern and Kansas and Oakland at Michigan State went bye-bye. Grand View's game at Iowa and Lehigh at Penn State also fell victim to the elements.

More IU/FSU Fallout

The Big Ten has weighed in on the March 12 confrontation between Indiana and Fresno State. IU head coach Tracy Smith has been suspended for two games and was publicly reprimanded for violating conference sportsmanship rules.

Friday's Finals

It was a mixed bag of results on Friday.

Ohio State thumped Kansas, 16-5. Buckeyes' DH Chris Macke hit a grandslam and drove in six on the day. OSU's Cory Kovanda had four hits, scored three times and had two RBI. Dan Burkhart had three hits (and scored twice with one RBI) as did J.B. Shuck (who scored three times and drove in one). Cory Rupert had a pair of hits, RBI and runs. Jake Hale posted his first victory working five innings.

Penn State got a much needed W as they beat up Lehigh, 18-9. Wes Borden, Scott Kelley and Rob Yodice each had three RBI for the Nittany Lions. In addition to his three runs batted in, Kelley had three hits and scored four times. PSU 1B Cory Wine had three hits including a homer. Wine also scored three times and had two RBI. Seth Whitehill improved to 2-1.

Minnesota beat South Dakota State, 3-1. Gophers CF Matt Nohelty had three hits and stole his ninth base. Jeff DeSmidt, Mike Kvasnicka and Jeff Engel had the Minnesota RBI's. Tom Buske fanned ten in 7.1 innings of work and moved to 2-2 on the season. Buske allowed just five hits, a walk and the lone SDSU run. Scott Matyas struck out all three batters he faced (on 14 pitches) to earn his second save.

Illinois and Central Connecticut State split a twinbill of seven inning affairs. CCSU took the opener, 8-7. Sean Miller-Jones and Tommy Meade each had three hits for CCSU. Kyle Hudson had a pair of hits and three RBI to lead the Illini. Dominic Altobelli also went yard for Illinois. Taylor Kosakowski posted the win.

The Illini rebounded to take the nightcap (daycap?), 5-4. Kyle Hudson had three more hits, scored twice, drove in one and stole a base. Brandon Wikoff had a pair of hits and two RBI. CCSU's Sean Miller-Jones had three more hits in the finale, as well. The win went to Scott Shaw (1-1) and the save went to Wes Braun (1).

Northern Iowa swept two seven inning games from Northwestern. NIU won game one, 6-0. Nick Kirk (2-3) held NU to just two hits over seven innings. Kirk walked two and whiffed seven. Cory Ege had three RBI for NIU. Jake Owens and Jake Goebbert had the only hits for the Wildcats.

NIU took the final game, 2-1. Guido Fonseca went the full seven innings, yielding five hits, no walks and the single NU tally. Fonseca, who is now 4-0, struck out eight Wildcats. Eric Jokisch (1-1) went six innings for NU giving up two hits and five walks plus the two NIU runs. Aaron Newman paced the Wildcats with a pair of hits.

Both the IUPUI-Ft. Wayne vs. Michigan and Oakland vs. Michigan State games were postponed due to snow. As I arise this morning, I find several new inches of the frozen stuff on the ground. That means it's safe to assume that today's OU vs. MSU game is probably a no-go, but check both programs websites to verify my hunch.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Opener: Michigan, Oakland And The New Fish

Yesterday, I took in my first game of the year. Michigan opened the renovated Ray Fisher Stadium at the Wilpon Baseball Complex. (Yeah, it's a mouthful.) It was a pleasant enough afternoon for Ann Arbor in March -- mostly sunny, breezy with temperatures in the 40's. Of course, when the clouds covered the sun, the temperature dropped dramatically. The opposition was Oakland University. Yes, "my" Golden Grizzlies.

As for the game itself, the final was 7-4, Michigan. Nate Recknagel hit a homer to what is now the deepest part of the ballpark -- left-center field. It was the seventh time Recknagel has gone yard this season. It's time to start considering Recknagel for All-America status. (Hello, national media. I'm talking to you.)

Travis Smith, Michigan's freshman starter, improved to 2-0. Smith struck out six over five innings of work. He looks like UM's Sunday starter to me, but we will know for sure in a week when Iowa comes calling.

Mike Dufek and Adam Abraham each had two hits for Michigan. Dan Ryan had a pair of hits for OU. D.J. Jarrad had two RBI for the Grizzlies.

While Michigan managed to prevail, Oakland did have opportunities to win. OU outhit the Wolverines, 7-6. The Grizzlies were hurt, in large part, by five errors. Yep, five E's. In spite of the miscues, the Grizzlies plated three runs in the eighth to make it a bit more interesting for the home side.

Friend of BTH, Sam, was also in attendance and managed to snap a few pictures while keeping score and talking to me. I encourage all Wolverine and Grizzly fans to check out her Flickr site. Michigan fans will find plenty to like as Sam has Maize and Blue photos aplenty. However, the Black and Gold supporters will also find photos from some of OU's previous encounters with Rich Maloney's side.

The question you may still be asking is "What about the new ballpark, Brian?". Well, it's open, but it's not quite finished yet. There is still work being done all around the yard. The guys with safety helmets on were a clue. As such, it's somewhat difficult to offer up a critique. However, like any new facility, it appears to have things I like, things I don't like and a few things I'm not sure about.

I'm going to hold off a complete review until I get at least one more look at the place. Hopefully, that will come next week when the Hawkeyes begin the Big Ten season in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

IU/Fresno St. Aftermath

Aaron Fitt at Baseball America reports that Fresno State skipper Mike Batesole has been suspended by the WAC for two games after an on-field altercation between FSU and Indiana. I'll avoid any plagiarism charges and encourage you to click on the link and let Mr. Fitt recount the story.

Michigan's Home Opener Postponed

Michigan's home opener versus Oakland has been postponed due to weather. (The rain and cold that began yesterday persists as I type.) The game, which was to have been the first in the renovated Ray Fisher Stadium, has been moved to Monday, March 24. Here's the university's official press release.

That makes tomorrow afternoon's 3:05pm affair against the Golden Grizzlies, the new home opener. The current forecast for Thursday is for dry and, yes, even sunny conditions. Alas, it's still March, so warmth is not in the forecast. The high is anticipated to be in the low 40s.

Tuesday Results

I really don't want BTH to become nothing more than a glorified scoreboard, but I have the time to review some of yesterday's action, so I will.

I'm not sure if Ohio State's Dan DeLucia is totally recovered, but his career high 10 K's Tuesday does seem to point in that direction. DeLucia (1-0) helped the Buckeyes past Bradley, 10-3. The senior lefthander gave up five hits, a walk and three earned runs in addition to the 10 strikeouts in six innings of work. J.B. Shuck had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI to pace the OSU attack. Cory Rupert had three hits and three RBI, Justin Miller had two hits, two runs scored and two RBI.

Stetson downed Iowa, 9-6. Hawkeye CF Caleb Curry had two hits, two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. 3B Kevin Hoef also had a pair of hits and scored a run.

Illinois beat Maryland-Baltimore County, 5-0. Aaron Martin tosses a complete game shuotut giving up eight hits and a walk. Martin fanned five. Daniel Webb was the offensive star collecting three hits, including his second homerun of the campaign, and driving in four runs. Kyle Hudson and Chris Montgomery both had a pair of hits for Illinois.

Matt Nohelty had four hits and Kyle Knudson drove in five runs as Minnesota beat up North Dakota State, 17-8. Nohelty scored three times, stole three bases and had two RBI. Knudson had two hits and scored twice. 3B Nate Hanson had three hits and scored three times. Jon Hummel, Derek McCallum and Jeremy Chlan all had two RBI.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

OSU's Meade Claims Weekly Honor

Ohio State's Ryan Meade claimed the Player of the Week honors at The College Baseball Blog. Our friends at CBB and have teamed up to name a pitcher and hitter of the week. Click on the link to see what earned the Buckeyes' freshman the top spot for last week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend Junkdrawer

Here is a hodge-podge of Big Ten baseball items for you to mull over while filling out your brackets.

* Matt Bashore of Indiana and Michigan's Nate Recknagel were named the conference's pitcher and player of the week, respectively.

* He didn't claim the award, but Iowa's Caleb Curry had quite a weekend, as well. The Hawkeyes' CF went 8 for 13, scored three times, drove in seven, doubled, walked twice, stole five bases and had a sac fly.

* Another Hawkeye, DH Trevor Willis had my favorite stat line of the weekend:

Willis, Trevor dh... 1 4 0 0 3 1 0 0 0

Willis scored four runs without ever getting a hit. He walked three times and was hit by a pitch in the Hawkeyes' slugfest with Rutgers on Sunday. Iowa prevailed, 16-14. In his lone official AB, Willis K'd.

* Ohio State freshmen Dan Burkhardt and Ryan Meade each had a four hit game over the weekend.

* I'm still not sure what's going on in Happy Valley, but heading into Sunday the Lions were eighth in batting average, tenth in ERA and ninth in fielding percentage. Ouch. I tend to agree with Uncle Lar over at Happy Valley Hardball who suggested that PSU may have already played themselves out of an at-large bid this year.

* Last I checked, which was a couple of minutes ago, only four Big Ten players had an OPS over 1.000. (You thought I forgot, didn't you?) Based on a completely arbitrary 30 at bat minimum, Northwestern's Mike Kalina was at a ridiculous 1.390. Nate Recknagel of Michigan was second at 1.305. Yes, that's crazy, too. Iowa's Caleb Curry was in at 1.208 and fourth was Indiana's Josh Phegley at 1.119.

That's all for now. I'm off to watch Top Gear on BBC America.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Roundup

Michigan 4 (#20) Coastal Carolina 1 (box)
Zach Putnam gives up three hits, three walks, one unearned run and strikes out 11 to lift Michigan past CCU. Adam Abraham worked the final inning for a save. Nate Recknagel homered amongst his two hits. Recknagel scored twice and drove in two.

Michigan 8 Ball State 4 (box)
Chris Fetter improved to 3-0 by giving up six hits, two walks, three earned runs and struck out seven over seven innings. Tyler Burgoon went two innings to post his first save. Nate Recknagel homered for the fifth time this year. Recknagel had four RBI and scored once. Adam Abraham drove in two, Kevin Cislo scored three times.

Iowa 9 Rutgers 2 (box)
Caleb Curry had three hits, three RBI and stole two bases. Matt Mossey drove in two. Mike Jacobs gave up one earned run over seven innings to gain the W.

Rutgers 8 Iowa 6 (box)
Caleb Curry had three more hits in the finale. Curry had two steals, scored once and drove in another. Justin Toole also had a three hit performance.

Miami, OH 9 Illinois 4 (box)
Chris Nadeau went 4 for 4 for the Redhawks. Kyle Hudson had three hits for the Illini. Casey McMurray had two RBI.

Pacific 3 Minnesota 1 (box)
Mark McCain fired a four-hit complete game for the Tigers. Jeff Engel's two hits were the highlight for the Gophers.

Indiana 14 New Mexico State 6 (box)
Andrew Means and Tyler Reimer each had two hits and three RBI for IU. Tyler Cox and Kipp Schutz both went yard amongst their three hits for the Hoosiers. Tyler Tufts won, Doug Fleenor posted the save.

Ohio State 9 Harvard 7 (box)
Freshman catcher Dan Burkhardt had four hits to lead the Buckeyes. Burkhardt scored three times. Fellow frosh Ryan Meade had three hits, J.B. Shuck had three RBI. Andrew Armstrong got his first win, Alex Wimmers faced one batter to earn the save.

Bethune-Cookman 10 Penn State 9 (box)
B-C's Emmanuel Castro had three hits and three RBI. Brian Ernst had three hits and two RBI for PSU. Cory Wine and Lou Picconi each drove in two.

Purdue 8 Ohio 4 (box)
The nightmare in West Lafayette has ended as the Boilers' posted their first win of 2008. Ryne White homered scored three times, walked three times and drove in two. Eric Nielsen had two RBI. Andy Loomis posted the win. Josh Lindblom earned his first save.

Purdue 9 Ohio 4 (box)
Boilermakers' 3B Dan Black homered and drove in six runs. Black also scored twice. Jordan Comadena had two hits, two runs scored and walked twice. Kyle Cook worked 4.2 innings to earn the win in relief.

Michigan State 2 Quinnipac 1 susp., 3rd

Illinois 15 Akron 11 (box)

Daniel Webb's ninth inning grand slam won it for the Illini. Dominic Altobelli had four hits and four RBI. Brandon Wikoff had three hits and three RBI. Webb, Altobelli and Ryan Hastings all went yard. Ben Reeser improved to 2-0.

Michigan State 4 Quinnipac 2 (box)
Chris Cullen move to 3-0 by going six innings. Cullen gave up seven hits, a walk and one earned run. Cullen fanned four. Nolan Moody's save was his second. Steve Gerstenberger, Kyle Day and Justin Potes each had a pair of hits.

Michigan State 6 Quinnipac 4 (box)
MSU scored three in the bottom of the eighth and Nolan Moody (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to lift the Spartans to victory. Mark Sorenson went seven innings and gave up only three hits and a walk, but didn't factor in the decision. Sorenson struck out six. Dennis Jones drove in two, Jonathon Roof had three hits.

Cornell 4 Penn State 1 (box)
PSU made six errors to help Cornell. Mike Wanamaker gave up three hits and three walks over six innings, but also yielded four unearned runs courtesy of those Lions' mistakes.

Ohio 3 Purdue 0
Marc Krauss had three hits and all three RBI for the Bobcats. Jason Moulton pitched a complete game shutout for Ohio. Moulton allowed only three hits and no walks while striking out five.

(#20) Coastal Carolina 11 Michigan 9
Adam Rice homered and had four RBI. Tommy Baldridge and David Saplett also went yard for CCU. Alan Oaks homered twice and Derek VanBuskirk and Adam Abraham also went deep for Michigan. Oaks had five RBI.

Ohio State 14 Dartmouth 9 (box)
OSU freshman DH Ryan Meade collected four hits and three RBI. Tony Kennedy had three RBI, two runs scored and two hits. Cory Rupert had two hits and two RBI. J.B. Shuck went only five innings but improved to 3-1.

Iowa 16 Rutgers 14 (box)
Kevin Hoef drove in four on two hits and scored twice. Matt Mossey had three hits, three runs scored and two RBI. Caleb Curry and Kurtis Muller each had two hits and three RBI.

Ohio 3 Purdue 0 (box)
Bobcats starter Matt Smith tosses a complete game shutout. Smith gave up six hits, a walk and struck out five. Ryne White had two hits for Purdue.

In Progress...

Minnesota 11 Pacific 3, 8th

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yes, We Have Some Wins Today

So far, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Northwestern have posted wins. Coach Hartleb's nine downed Eastern Kentucky, 8-6. Casey McMurray and and Brandon Wikoff each had two RBI to lead Illinois' offense. Ben Reeser worked 2.1 innings of relief to notch the win.

Michigan dropped Presbyterian, 5-2. Nate Recknagel cranked out his fourth homer and drove in three of the Wolverines' runs. Travis Smith posted his first win going seven innings. Smith gave up five hits, one walk, one earned run and struck out two. Mike Powers earned the save.

Matt Bashore led Indiana to a 7-0 triumph over Portland. The sophomore lefty went eight shutout innings while allowing six hits and four walks. Bashore fanned twelve Portland batters. Jerrud Sabourin paced the Hoosiers' hit parade with three hits, including a homer, two runs scored and two RBI. SS Evan Crawford also drove in a pair of IU tallies. Tyler Rogers also went yard for Indiana.

Eric Jokisch pitched a complete game to help Northwestern win the first game of their doubleheader with UIC, 6-3. Jokisch (1-0) went nine giving up nine hits, a walk and three earned runs. Aaron Newman's three hits led NU. Jake Owens, Jake Goebbert and Mike Kalina all had two hits a piece.

The Flames took game two, 5-3. Goebbert and Jim Grieco each had two hits in the second half of the twinbill.

Purdue's game against Ohio was postponed until Saturday.

Pacific is leading Minnesota, 1-0, in the third inning.

There's no report from either the MSU vs. Quinnipac or Penn State vs. Penn games.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

ESPNU Coverage

We learn, courtesy of Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, what ESPN's college baseball broadcast schedule is going to look like. Here it is:

Tuesday, April 1 (7 p.m.): Rice at Texas
Sunday, April 6 (2 p.m.): North Carolina A&T at Bethune-Cookman
Friday, April 18 (7 p.m.): Oklahoma State at Texas
Sunday, April 20 (3 p.m.): UNC Asheville at Coastal Carolina
Saturday, April 26 (3:30 p.m.): St. John’s at Notre Dame
Friday, May 9 (6 p.m.): Portland at Pepperdine

First, let me say something positive about this lineup of games. The network did a nice job of covering almost every region of the country. That's it. On to the less positive stuff.

Six whole games? Wow, that's quite a commitment. How can ESPN afford to give up that much valuable airtime? Oh, that's right. They are all on ESPNU -- a network nobody has.

How many people actually have ESPNU? I'm not sure exactly how many households have access, but I do know it's a small stinkin' number. (Not as small as the number of homes with the Big Ten Network, of course, but still pretty tiny.) This unprecedented coverage will no doubt elevate college baseball to a level it would have had if none of the games were broadcast.

Look, I'm a college baseball guy. I'm happy six more games get some level of television coverage. Really. I am. Yet, I'm disappointment and confused as to why ESPNU couldn't commit to more than a half dozen games. I can understand ESPN, the original, not putting up more than six regular season games, but The U?

There can be only one excuse -- a rights issue. Maybe, just as Big Ten games are the property of good ol' BTN, the ACC, SEC and Pac 10, in particular, have television contracts with other regional networks. That would cut into the amount of games available. Especially, some of the marquee match-ups. However, even if that's the case, televising six games hardly constitutes coverage on a network dedicated to providing exclusively collegiate athletics.

Fetter Named To CBF's All-Star Lineup

University of Michigan pitcher Chris Fetter was named to the College Baseball Foundation's All-Star Lineup (it's a .pdf file). Fetter was named to the weekly squad by striking out 11 Pittsburgh batters and giving up only a single hit during his seven shutout innings on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Catching Up

I'm a bit behind on the scores, so let's see what's happened since mid-afternoon Sunday.

(#17) Kentucky 3 Purdue 2
Penn State 12 Air Force 2
Fresno State 4 Indiana 1
Missouri State 8 Iowa 3
Missouri State 12 Iowa 5
Minnesota 11 Northern Iowa 9

(#17) Kentucky 6 Purdue 1
(#17) Kentucky 4 Purdue 3
Gonzaga 7 Indiana 4
Monmouth 9 Penn State 7

Connecticut 14 Penn State 6
Indiana 3 New Mexico State 0, 5th inning
Penn State @ (#5) Miami, FL

Honestly, I'm struggling to say nice things about the Big Ten right now. Everyone has their share of miserable losses and few have any wins to really brag about (apologies to MSU -- W's over Rice, Western Carolina and Stetson -- and Iowa -- who dropped Vandy).

Here are the standings:
Ohio State 5-4
Michigan 5-5
Northwestern 3-3
Minnesota 4-5
Michigan State 5-7
Penn State 3-5
Iowa 3-6
Indiana 3-6
Illinois 2-4
Purdue 0-9

Uncle Lar over at Happy Valley Hardball has some projected RPI numbers through 3/10. It's not much prettier. About the only consolation is that there is quite a bit of baseball left to be played.

One final news item, there are reports that have the Big Ten Network and Comcast are reportedly close to an agreement. Any chance this can get done before conference baseball play begins in two weeks?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Results

Illinois' trip to Texas Tech was completed canceled due to travel problems. Northwestern's set at Louisville got snowed out. Yes, snow in the 'Ville. Those have been the only games knocked off today's docket.

Somehow, Purdue's finale at # 20 Kentucky is going on. Either it didn't snow as hard in Lexington as it did Louisville or they have snow removal equipment. It's 0-0 in the 2nd.

Michigan righted the ship against Pittsburgh today. The Wolverines prevailed, 7-0. Chris Fetter worked seven shut out innings, giving up just one hit and striking out 11 Panthers. SS Jason Christian and Nate Recknagel, who caught on Sunday, each homered and drove in a pair of runs. Derek VanBuskirk had two hits, a run scored, a RBI and stole a base.

Missouri State is up on Iowa, 8-3. It's the seventh inning. They are going to try and play two today.

Ohio State beat Connecticut, 6-4. Shuck (2-1) tossed six innings of one-hit, no-run baseball. The lefty walked three and struck out three. Jake Hale pitched three innings of relief and posted the save. 1B Justin Miller had a pair of hits and two RBI.

Indiana and Fresno State are tied at 1-1 in the first inning.

The remainder of today's schedule isn't underway yet.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday, Thus Far

Today is starting to look quite a bit like last night. We've already got postponements and cancellations. Purdue at Kentucky and Northwestern at Louisville are not happening. Yet, the Boilers vs. Wildcats game is still listed as just postponed, not canceled. The scheduled doubleheader between Illinois and Texas Tech has already been erased as the travel issue remains.

In the only game that has been played, Georgia Southern thumped #23 Michigan, 12-1. Wolverines' SS Jason Christian had two hits, including a homer, three RBI and scored a run. Kevin Cislo also had a pair of hits. I think it's safe to assume that with this (bad) loss, Michigan will probably bid adieu to the top 25.

Michigan is scheduled to play East Carolina in the second half of the doubleheader. However, that game appears to be delayed.

We'll have to see if the rest of the Big Ten slate gets finished today.

Late Updates:
East Carolina dropped Michigan, 6-5. 3B Adam Abraham was 4 for 4 and SS Jason Christian drove in two, but it wasn't enough for Michigan, as ECU plated two in the seventh and one in the eighth to win it. Ryan Wood and Trent Whitehead both went yard for ECU. Whitehead had three RBI. Josh Ruhlman fanned three of the six batters he faced to get the win in relief.

Fresno State topped Indiana, 6-2. Michael Earley had a two-hit game for the Hoosiers. Tommy Mendonca had two homers and five RBI for FSU.

Missouri State doubled up Iowa, 6-3. Matt Mossey had a pair of doubles and drove in a run for Iowa. Tyson Blaser also had two hits.

Creighton drilled Michigan State, 15-1. The Spartans had four hits and four errors. Probably a letdown game after beating Rice. Jeremy Hauer had seven strikeouts for CU in six innings. Hauer allowed three hits, two walks and the only run en route to the win. Bluejays' 3B Steve Winkelmann had five RBI, RF Nick Nordgren had four RBI.

California 4 Minnesota 1 (7th)

Maine 7 Ohio State 4 (8th) Former Illini catcher Joe Mercurio is 2 for 3 for the Black Bears, so far.

Four Postponements, A Cancellation And A Big Win

No, it's not a sequel with Hugh Grant. It's just another March Friday night around college baseball. Kentucky vs. Purdue, Georgia Southern vs. Michigan, Northwestern vs. Louisville and Iowa vs. Missouri State all got PPD, weather. Illinois at Texas Tech did one better and got completely wiped off the slate due to travel problems. (I'm guessing the Illini can't get to TT.)

On to the good news, Michigan State not only played, but prevailed over Rice, 9-3. The Owls entered the game ranked sixth in the NCBWA poll. LF Chris Roberts led MSU with two two hits, three RBI and a run scored. Roberts and OF Justin Potes both went yard. Potes and Tyler Newsome each drove in two runs. Chris Cullen worked seven strong innings giving up just two earned runs. Cullen posted the victory.

Minnesota beat New Mexico, 7-3. Gophers' CF Matt Nohelty continued his assault on opposing pitchers going 4 for 5 with three RBI. Nohelty also scored once and stole a base (his fourth). Nate Hanson and Mike Kvasnicka each had a pair of hits. Tom Buske went six yielding six hits, three earned runs, but no walks. Buske also fanned six UNM batters. Scott Matyas gave up one hit and struck out two over three innings en route to getting the save.

Air Force rained on the Big Ten parade by dropping Ohio State, 9-8. Cory Rupert had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI to pace the Buckeyes. Tony Kennedy went yard for OSU. Dan DeLucia didn't factor in the decision, but had another good start coming off his Tommy John surgery. DeLucia went 5.2 innings giving up six hits and a single walk. The senior lefty allowed two earned runs and struck out nine.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spartans Fall Twice At LSU, Beat WCU

Michigan State's had a trio of midweek games. MSU was in Baton Rouge to take on Louisiana State. LSU took game one, 5-3. Former Michigan high school standout D.J. LeMahieu had two hits and three RBI to lead the Tigers. Freshman Tyler Newsome had a three hit game for MSU.

The Tigers prevailed in the series finale, 12-1. MSU was held to just five hits yesterday.

Michigan State rebounded from the pair of losses in Cajun Country to beat Western Carolina today, 5-3. Justin Potes was 3 for 4 with a run scored and a RBI. Jonathon Roof and Kyle Day each had a pair of hits for MSU. Peter Wolff's two innings of relief work was good enough to garner the win. Nolan Moody picked up his first save of 2008.

The Spartans also released interviews with A.J. Dunn and Kyle Day on the day of the first encounter with Louisiana State.

Bench, Clemens Award Watchlists Announced

The watchlists for both the Johnny Bench and Roger Clemens Awards have been announced. The lone Big Ten representative on the Bench Award list (it's a .pdf file) is Joe Blackburn of Penn State.

I've yet to stumble upon the full list for the Clemens Award. Their website has a very generic press release mentioning only Virginia's Jacob Thompson. However, I've been told that Penn State's Drew O'Neil, Ohio State's J.B. Shuck and Michigan's Chris Fetter and Mike Wilson have all made the initial list.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

OSU's Arlin Elected To Hall

Earlier today, the College Baseball Foundation announced the College Baseball Hall of Fame Class for 2008. Ohio State pitcher Steve Arlin is amongst the twelve men elected. Arlin pitched OSU to back-to-back College World Series trips and captured the NCAA title in 1966. Arlin's CWS performances were the stuff of legend. In '65, Arlin fanned 20 Washington State hitters in a fifteen inning affair that the Buckeyes won, 1-0. Arlin beat USC twice in the '66 CWS and pitched in five of the team's six Omaha appearances. His two year career mark in Columbus was 24-3. (For more on Arlin, here's the official OSU press release.)

Eleven other former college baseball stars join Arlin in the Class of 2008. Owen Carroll (Holy Cross/Seton Hall), William J. "Billy" Disch (Sacred Heart, St. Edward's and Texas), Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (Pasadena JC, UCLA), Eddie Bane (Arizona State), Floyd Bannister (Arizona State), Neal Heaton (Miami, FL), Burt Hooton (Texas), Dick Howser (Florida State), Ben McDonald (LSU), Greg Swindell (Texas) and Gary Ward (Oklahoma State, New Mexico State).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thoughts From The Weekend

As I await on another four to seven inches of snow, I bitterly ponder creating an outdoor college baseball tournament on the opening weekend of the season. I envision something like that NHL game between Pittsburgh and Buffalo on New Year's Day -- cold, windy, snowing. Instead of two northern programs, though, we invite four of those southern schools lamenting the universal start date.

The round robin tourney will be held somewhere like Traverse City, Michigan. The cherry capital just built a new minor league park. It's not far from Lake Michigan, either. I'm sure it would be ideal for baseball in February. The very PGA Tour-like title is the Universal Start Date Classic hosted by Eric Sorenson.

(Eric, buddy, lay off the universal start date. College baseball had to have it, if it wants to grow. Think of it like medicine, it might not taste good now, but it will make you better in the long run.)
In addition to this wildly ingenious, albeit spiteful, idea, I've been thinking about the weekend that was in Big Ten and around college baseball.

Minnesota's opening weekend versus Mississippi was simply terrible. The Gohpers fell by scores of 8-1, 22-5 and 15-4. While premature, many wrote off John Anderson's team only one weekend into the new season. Then along came the Dairy Queen Classic.

The Gophers defended home soil, home astroturf to be specific, by winning the DQ tournament. Minnesota fell in Friday's opener in extra innings, 7-4, to TCU. However, the Golden Gophers rebounded to take the next two games. They beat Tulane, 7-5, and Pepperdine, 5-2, to capture the DQ for the first time since 2004. One week later and the Gophers appear to be a much better team than many thoughts seven days before.

While a number of things went much better for the Gophers between week one and week two, one thing has stood out -- strikeouts. Minnesota batters fanned a remarkable 39 times against Ole Miss two weeks ago. In those three contests, the Gophers whiffed 21, 9 and 9 times.

This weekend, the Gophers struck out only 24 times. Minnesota batters fanned 14, 6 and 4 times in the Dairy Queen Classic. Minnesota has yet to win a game where they have struck out nine or more times. The games with their two lowest strikeout numbers are both victories. Sabermatericians, rejoice! Perhaps, this does mean that fewer K's = more W's.

Vanderbilt baseball fans must hate the Big Ten right about now. As you recall, the Commodores got bounced out of the NCAA Tournament last season by Michigan. Vandy entered the post-season as the top ranked team in the land, the number one seed in The Dance and regional host only to have upstart Michigan rain on their parade.

This past weekend, Iowa jumped up and took another bite out of the SEC power. The Hawkeyes prevailed over the seventh ranked Commodores, 6-3.

Any chance the SEC faithful can muster up a little respect for the Big Ten now? I didn't think so, either. But, I figured I'd ask.

In my ongoing search to watch college baseball this past weekend, I flipped through all the potential channels that might televise such an event. In coming across CSTV, I found a women's lacrosse match. In stopping to watch the Notre Dame vs. Stanford affair, I glanced at CSTV's crawl.

I noted college basketball scores, both men's and women's. Completely appropriate. I also saw hockey scores. It's hockey season, I'm good with that. However, I failed to notice any baseball scores sliding across the bottom of my screen. Was I mistaken? Did I not wait long enough? Are baseball scores not posted as frequently? Do they not post baseball scores at all? This is College Sports Television, right?

Remember what I said about Purdue in my season preview?

However, Purdue is probably the most enigmatic team in the Big

After losing three straight hard fought, one-run affairs against nationally ranked Baylor in Waco, Purdue looked like a team ready to take flight. Alas, the Boilermakers have gone the opposite direction. After dropping three more versus Western Kentucky, the Boilermakers are off to their worst start in a forever. (Technically, the '08 Boilers are tied for the worst start in the 121 year history of the program.)

I'm not sure what to say other than this is so typical of Purdue. You just can't figure out what you are going to get from them. Well, I can't anyway. My advice for the Purdue visitors here? Be patient. Much like the weather in the midwest, the Boilers' performance could and probably will change several more times before the season's end.

My initial reaction to Arizona State's two triumphs over Michigan was that Omaha seemed much further away from Ann Arbor than it did before last Thursday. However, my overall feeling is that Arizona State is just crazy good. There are very few programs as loaded as the Sun Devils are this year and they have come out of the gate on fire.

Even if ASU is the class of the college baseball field this year (and that's not a given), I get the feeling Michigan needs to play better baseball in 2008 than it did in 2007, if they hope to play in Omaha this June.

Michigan can swing the bats with almost anybody, but the questions about their pitching (especially the bullpen) and their ability to win low scoring games will remain until proven otherwise.

Editor's Note (3/8/08): Eric Sorenson at CBS College Sports, formerly CSTV, emailed me to clarify his position on the universal start date. (Mostly 'cause I sort of implied he didn't at the top of this post.) Big E actually loves the USD. He does poke some fun at it, but fully embraces the idea as one necessary for the overall health of college baseball.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Scores Galore

Stephen F. Austin 8 Illinois 7 (box)
Illinois' Kyle Hudson had three hits, scored twice and drove in one. Brandon Wikoff had two hits and three RBI in the loss. Three SFA players went yard including catcher Mat Whatley who drove in four runs.

Indiana 9 Austin Peay 1 (box)
Matt Bashore pitched six scoreless innings to earn the win. The sophomore lefty yielded four hits, three walks and struck out five. Andrew Means and Evan Crawford each had three hits. Kipp Schutz drove in three runs.

Iowa 6 #7 Vanderbilt 3 (box)
Wes Freie went 4 for 4 in leading the Hawkeyes past seventh ranked Vandy. Kyle Riffel had two hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Iowa CF Caleb Curry had a three hit game. Matt Mossey had two hits and pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief to post his first save of 2008. Michael Jacobs worked six innings giving up seven hits, three walks and three earned runs to post the win.

#18 Michigan 11 Hawaii 5 (Game One box)
Nate Recknagel collected three hits including a homer to lead Michigan. Recknagel scored twice and drove in two more. Derek VanBuskirk, Adam Abraham and Mike Dufek all had three hits piece. VanBuskirk and Jason Christian each had three RBI. Chris Fetter (1-0) allowed seven hits, no walks and one earned run over 6.2 innings to notch the win.

#1 Arizona State 8 #18 Michigan 4 (Game Two box)
A five run seventh inning powered the Sun Devils to victory. Zach Putnam had three hits and three RBI in the defeat. Leif Mahler also had a three hit game for Michigan. Brett Wallace had three hits for ASU (6-0). Ike Davis (1-0) got the win in relief.

Michigan State 6 Arkansas State 5 (box)
Kyle Day drove home the game winner in the ninth. MSU's Eli Boike had three hits, two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Day and A.J. Shindler each had two hits for the Spartans. Nolan Moody pitched the ninth inning to post the win.

Minnesota 7 Tulane 5 (box)
A four run eighth powered the Gophers to victory. Matt Nohelty had two hits and three RBI to lead Minnesota. Mike Kvasnicka hit his first collegiate homerun and drove in two more Gopher tallies. Luke Rasmussen got the win, Seth Rosin earned the save.

South Florida 9 Northwestern 8 (box)
Jake Owens had three hits, a run scored, a RBI and a stolen base. Mike Kalina had two more hits as did Chris Lashmet and Jake Wilson. Nate Roberts drove in two Wildcat runs.

Ohio State 7 Louisiana Tech 4 (box)
Dean Wolosiansky (2-0) went five innings giving up six hits, but not allowing a walk or run. Wolosiansky also struck out six. Rory Meister earned the win. J.B. Shuck had four hits and two RBI. Justin Miller had three hits and two RBI.

Penn State 4 Kennesaw State 3 (box)
Landon Nakata hit his first homerun and Brian Ernst and Rick Marlin had two hits a piece to pace the Nittany Lions. Mark Lorenston gave up six hits, a walk and three earned runs over 6.1 innings to get the win. Drew O'Neil posted his second save of the year.

Wake Forest 15 Penn State 4 (box)
On Sunday, Wes Borden, Brian Ernst, Cory Wine and Rob Yodice all had two hits for PSU. Borden hit his first homer as a Nittany Lion. Wake Forest's Evan Ocheltree had three hits and six RBI. Demon Deacons' 2B Dustin Hood had three hits, three RBI and two runs scored.

Western Kentucky 12 Purdue 5 (box)
Brandon Haveman's two hits led Purdue. Drew Madia's two RBI topped the Boilers, who remain winless in 2008. WKU catcher J.B. Paxson had two hits, two runs and three RBI. Hilltoppers' 3B Wade Gaynor had three hits, three runs scored and a RBI.

More from Sunday action....

UIC 7 Illinois 4 (box)
In a game cut down to six innings due to travel scheduling, the Illini managed just five hits. Nick Stockwell drove in two of Illinois' four runs.

Indiana 17 Valparaiso 14 (box)
Yes, IU won by a late field goal. Josh Phegley went 5 for 5 and became the first Hoosier since 2005 to hit for the cycle. The sophomore catcher scored four runs and collected five RBI. Freshman 3B Evan Wilson had two hits including a homer, scored twice and drove in three. SS Evan Crawford also had three hits. Kyle Leiendecker posted the win, Chris Squires the save.

Kansas 9 Iowa 5 (box)
Hawkeyes' SS Kevin Hoef had two hits, scored twice and stole two bases. Justin Toole, Wes Freie and Kurtis Muller all had a pair of hits, as well. Toole and Caleb Curry each had two RBI. Kansas' CF Nick Faunce had four hits and Jayhawks' C Ryne Price went yard. KU starter Sam Freeman improved to 2-0.

Kansas State 10 Michigan State 9 (box)
Kyle Day posted the majority of crooked numbers for MSU. Day had three hits and five RBI to lead the Spartans. Brandon Doherty had three walks and scored three times in the loss. KSU's Nate Tenbrink had four hits including three doubles. The Wildcats' 3B drove in five and scored two runs. KU's Thomas Rooke earned the win.

Arkansas 8 Ohio State 6
The Razorbacks' Aaron Murphree hit a pair of two-run homers to lead Arkansas past OSU. Cliff Springston's 6.1 innings of relief got him the win. OSU's Zach Hurley and Cory Kovanda each had two RBI. Freshman Ryan Meade had three hits and scored three times in the loss.

Western Kentucky 5 Purdue 0 (box)
WKU's Matt Hightower allowed only three hits over six innings to post his second win of the year. Hightower surrendered only one free pass and struck out seven Boilermaker batters. The Boilermakers dropped to 0-6 on the season.

Minnesota 5 Pepperdine 2 (box)
Ice cream for everybody! The Gophers win the Dairy Queen Classic by dropping the Waves. Minnesota CF Matt Nohelty had three hits and two RBI and was named the Tournament's MVP. Mike Kvasnicka hit his second homerun of the year. Scott Fern recorded just two outs, but got the win. Phil Isaksson posted the save working 3.2 innings of no-hit, no-run baseball.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More Friday Scores

Texas A&M 8 Ohio State 5 (box)
Michael Arp had a pair of hits and RBI to pace OSU. Cory Rupert also drove in two. Blake Stouffer and Luke Anders had two RBI a piece to lead the Aggies. Kyle Thebeau notched the win for A&M.

TCU 7 Minnesota 4, 12 innings (box)
TCU's Chris Arnold had two hits, scored three times, drove in three and stole a pair of bases. Matt Nohelty, Jeremy Chlan and Jon Hummel all had a pair of hits for the Gophers.

Baylor 20 Illinois 6 (box)
In front of 3,033 fans, Baylor RF Aaron Miller went 5 for 5 with three homers. Miller scored four times and collected six RBI. Kendal Volz (2-0) earned the win. Nick Stockwell (two runs scored) and Joe Bonadonna (two RBI) each had two hits for the Illini.

Illinois State 12 Indiana 5 (box)
ISU 2B Ronnie Calvird had three hits, two RBI and scored once. Corey Maines homered and drove in three. Hoosiers DH Michael Earley had two hits and two RBI. IU's Andrew Means had a three hit game, including two triples.

Iowa 12 Xavier 9 (box)
Hawkeyes' 2B Justin Toole had three hits, three RBI, two steals and a run scored. Wes Freie also had three hits including a homer. Freie scored three times. Brock Alberts pitched 5.1 innings of five hit relief to earn the win. Alberts didn't yeild a run or walk while striking out 10 Musketeers.

Oklahoma State 13 Northwestern 3 (box)
Rebel Riding and Donnie Webb each had two hits for OSU. Tyler Lyons improved to 2-0 for the Cowboys. NU's Mike Kalina went 3 for 4.

Troy 5 Penn State 2 (box)
Troy's three run eighth inning won it. Mike Wanamaker had his second good start going seven innings giving up five hits and two earned runs while fanning seven. He also walked four. Wanamaker did not factor in the decision. Scott Kelley went yard for PSU and Landon Nakata was the only player with two hits for either side.

Western Kentucky 4 Purdue 1 (box)
WKU's Jake Wells had two hits and teammate Jeremy Coleman had two RBI. Hilltoppers' starter Bart Carter posted his first victory, Colby Beach his first save. Eric Nielsen had two hits for the Boilermakers.

Portland 4 #18 Michigan 3, 10 innings (box)
Portland scored two in the top of the tenth to win it. Nate Recknagel, Zach Putnam, Derek VanBuskirk and Kevin Cislo each had two hits for Michigan in the loss.