Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Challenge: Saturday Open Thread

It's Day Two of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. It wasn't a bad first day for the Big Ten. The wins were all close affairs, but, oh, those losses. When the Big East sides prevailed, they won in dominant fashion. The boys from the midwest could use a few more convincing victories this afternoon. Although, I'd be happy with more W's than L's, thank you.

It's only one game, so we shouldn't put too much stock in the wins, losses or overall performances. Yet, this is a blog, so you expect two things. 1) For me to say something. 2) For wild speculation to rule the day. To live up to those limited expectations, let me share these thoughts from Opening Day.

Questions about Indiana's pitching, the bullpen, in particular, will continue. No, Matt Bashore didn't have his "A" game yesterday, but the bullpen did nothing to stop the bleeding.

Yes, Josh Phegley can hit. A four-hit performance in the opener will not hurt his All-America campaign.

Michigan's untested players -- Nick Urban, Kenny Fellows, the freshmen catchers -- Coley Crank and Jake McLouth, -- all passed their first test of '09.

Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski were tremendous for Ohio State. You have to like the Buckeyes pitching this year.

OSU, Michigan, Purdue and Illinois played like experienced teams yesterday, didn't they?

NU's Eric Jokisch is one of the better pitchers in the conference.

Well, those are just a few things I was thinking as yesterday unfolded. But, today is a new day. Again, I encourage you to post scoring update and your thoughts as the action proceeds.

11:00pm The Irish double up Illinois, 14-7. Dominic Altobelli had four RBI in the losing effort.

USF held off Purdue, 7-5. Dan Black homered for the Boilers, Tyler Spillner and Jon Cummins both had a pair of hits.

This wraps up tonight's blogging. The conference's split today's series at four games a piece.

9:44pm Add Ohio State to the winner's column. The Buckeyes stopped UConn, 6-4. Andrew Armstrong went 6.2 innings, his career best, allowing three hits, two walks and striking out five. He didn't yield a run. Brian DeLucia hit a two-run double and Zach Hurley hit a bases-loaded triple to pace the offense.

Illinois and Notre Dame are tied at 7-7 in the seventh. South Florida is up on Purdue, 6-3, in the bottom of the seventh. With the Buckeyes win, the worst the Big Ten will do today is split.

7:15pm Seton Hall doubled up Michigan State, 8-4. Eli Boike and Andrew Carpenter both homered in the loss. Boike drove in a pair of Spartan runs.

Michigan beat Cincinnati, 6-1. Wolverine RHP Travis Smith struck out nine in five innings and got the win. Matt Miller came on and tossed four innings of relief, striking out another seven, and posted the save. Mike Dufek homered, drove in three and walked twice. Nick Urban had three more hits and had two RBI.

St. John's thumped Iowa, 18-3. The Hawkeyes managed just three hits. Zach McCool had one of them, scored once and drove in a run.

Penn State beat Northwestern, 9-1. Scott Kelley gets the victory going 5.2 IP. He struck out five Wildcats. Cory Wine finished with two hits, three runs scored and three RBI. Rick Marlin drove in two. Michael Glantz and Grant Youngblood both had two hits. For NU, Kenneth Avila and Tony Vercelli both collected a pair of hits.

If my math is good, the Big Ten leads today's match-up three to two. Of course, we've got three games just getting underway. Illinois vs. Notre Dame, Ohio State vs. UConn and Purdue and South Florida.

3:30pm Eric Arnett went six innings giving up four hits, two walks, two earned runs and whiffed eight as IU drops the Hoyas, 12-4. Jerrud Sabourin had three hits. The Hoosiers and Gophers are the Big Ten winners so far today.

St. John's still leads Iowa, 13-2. The Hawkeyes comeback seems to be stalled. It's only the fourth inning, though.

2:50pm Jake McLouth's tenth inning single, his third hit of the game, drove in Anthony Toth with the winning run as Michigan outlasted Purdue, 4-3. McLouth had two RBI. Toth scored twice while Mike Dufek and Nick Urban both collected a pair of hits. Tyler Burgoon pitches four innings of three hit baseball to earn his second win in as many games. Burgoon struck out four, as well.

For Purdue, Jonathan Lilly went 3 for 5. Brandon Haveman and Alex Jaffee each had two hits a piece.

Indiana is up on Georgetown, 11-2, in the seventh. IU posted six in the first inning and haven't looked back. Five Hoosiers have two hits, Ethan Wilson has 3 RBI and SS Jake Dunning has driven in two.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, St. John's put 12 on the board in the first inning and lead Iowa, 12-2. It's the top of the second. Tim Morris and Joe Panik both had 3 RBI in the first. The Hawkeyes have scored two this frame, so the comeback is on.

Cory Wine and Rick Marlin have each knocked in a pair of runs and Penn State is out in front of Northwestern, 7-1. They are in the bottom of the sixth.

1:10pm Minnesota beats West Virginia, 5-4. Cullen Sexton picks up the win tossing two innings of relief work. Derek McCallum had three hits and two RBI. Eric Decker also had three hits. Michael Kvansnicka (two doubles) and Matt Nohelty both had a pair of hits. As a note, Nohelty continues to DH.

Michigan and Purdue, in a rematch of last year's top two teams, are tied 3-3 after six innings. Boilers' OF Brandon Haveman has two hits and a RBI. Michigan freshman DH Jake McLouth also has a pair of hits and a RBI.