Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday .... So Far

The final scores as of 4:45pm EST:

# 7 Texas 6 Penn State 2 (Game One)
UNC Wilmington 9 Michigan State 8
South Alabama 11 Iowa 9
Indiana vs. Cleveland State, ccd.
Purdue vs. SE Missouri State, ccd.

I received a report on the MSU game. The Spartans took the lead, 8-4, in the top of the ninth by plating four runs. It was lightly raining as the Spartans were hitting. However, when they went to take the field for the bottom of the ninth, it began to pour. Between the downpour, interruptions from the grounds crew applying diamond dry and pitching changes, the MSU bullpen never settled down.

MSU yielded a single, triple, HBP and five walks including walking in the winning run. For the second straight game the Spartans have been unable to close out a lead.

The rain in the south has also cancelled Indiana's game today. The Hoosiers will take on Cleveland State tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. They may also be involved in the 5 p.m. game, as well.

Purdue and SE Missouri State are washed out today, as well.

Iowa's All-America candidate SS Justin Toole went 4 for 5 in the loss. T.J. Cataldo homered and had three RBI.

The games in-progress:
# 25 Michigan 9 Jacksonville 0, 4th
Ohio State 2 George Mason 0, 5th
Illinois 1 Stephen F. Austin 0, 2nd
Penn State 0 # 7 Texas 0, 1st

12:55 a.m.

Yeah, it's late. Or early, depending on your point of view. Before I get some rest, let's review the final scores.

# 25 Michigan 21 Jacksonville 3 (Game One)
Jacksonville 10 # 25 Michigan 2 (Game Two)
Northwestern 7 Massachusetts 6
Ohio State 11 George Mason 5 (Game One)
Ohio State 10 North Florida 8 (Game Two)
# 7 Texas 1 Penn State 0 (Game Two)
Illinois 4 Stephen F. Austin 2
Minnesota 6 Washington 5, 10 innings

A mixed bag of results. Ohio State continues their undefeated run. Michigan is in serious trouble of kissing that number in front of their name goodbye. Minnesota and Illinois are having good weekends.

That's all for tonight.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's An Ugly Start

There are two final scores to report. Ball State slipped past Indiana, 5-4. UMass was one better than Northwestern, 4-3.

Scores from games in-progress include:

UNC-Wilmington 5 Michigan State 2, 6th inning
SE Missouri State 6 Purdue 5, 5th inning
Wisconsin-Milwaukee 16 Michigan 10, 7th inning

For those of you keeping track at home (and I know you are), that's two losses in the books and three not looking very good right now. UM fans can make the case, that based on the Wolverines first five games, they've got UW-M right where they want them. We shall see, but it's not a good start to the weekend.

Later today, we've got Penn State at #7 Texas. Illinois is also in the Lone Star State at Texas-Pan American. Iowa takes on Stetson (which sounds like it should be in Texas). Ohio State is at North Florida. UC-Santa Barbara is Minnesota's opponent in the Dairy Queen Classic.

I've just started to review the game details, but here two items of note.

* Michigan CF Ryan LaMarre has gone yard twice and has seven RBI so far.
* Josh Phegley, IU's All-America catcher, walked four times today.

I hope to be back with more updates later.

6:55pm Update # 1

It didn't get any better. All finals:

Wisconsin-Milwaukee 19 # 25 Michigan 11
# 7 Texas 9 Penn State 2
UNC-Wilmington 7 Michigan State 2 (Game One)
SE Missouri State 13 Purdue 10 (Game One)

Let's start with the obvious, that's a bad loss for Michigan. Losing is one thing, getting drilled by UW-M is another. None of the pitchers Coach Maloney trotted out to the hill did much to slow the run barrage. The Wolverines had allowed 19 runs in total in the previous five games.

As mentioned earlier, LaMarre ended up going 4 for 5 with two homers, two runs scored and seven RBI. Anthony Toth also had two hits, two RBI and scored twice. Freshman DH Jake McLouth continue his strong start by hammering his third homerun and driving in two.

Allow me a moment to veer back to the early games. The questions about Indiana's bullpen persist. The Hoosiers were leading their contest before giving up two in the seventh, one in the eighth and another in the ninth.

Starter Matt Bashore left after six having relinquished one run on seven hits and a walk. The lefty fanned six. Alex Dickerson and Jerrud Sabourin both collected a pair of hits in the loss. Evan Crawford homered for IU and Phegley did get just one official AB as he got four free passes.

NU somehow managed to plate three runs on just four hits. Of course, those four Minutemen errors probably helped. Wildcats' DH Kenneth Avila continued his hot streak with another hit today.

Purdue did regain the lead in their game vs. SE Missouri State, but couldn't hold on. Nick Overmyer (who is off to a good start) went 3 for 4 with four RBI and scored twice. Tyler Spillner also had three hits and three RBI in the losing effort.

The good news for the Boilers is that they are playing a doubleheader. The last score I saw was Purdue up 6-1 in the 4th.

UNC-Wilmington and MSU are playing a twinbill today, as well. UNCW took the opener, 7-2, as the Spartans only mustered five hits. The State highlight belonged to Johnny Lee who homered and drove in two.

Game Two has UNCW up, 4-3 in the ninth.

I doubt too many expect much from Penn State this weekend. Taking on the always-loaded Longhorns in Austin is not an enviable spot. Going against All-America, and possible Pitcher of the Year candidate, Chance Ruffin didn't help their chances in the opener. Unfortunately, the Lions' didn't help themselves by committing four E's.

PSU's Cory Wine, Jordan Steranka and Michael Glantz each got tow hits a piece in the 9-2 loss. Sternaka also drove in the two Nittany Lions' tallies.

Several games left on today's docket, so more updates may follow.

10:50pm Update

The final scores:
Stetson 11 Iowa 0
Ohio State 11 North Florida 6
UNC-Wilmington 4 Michigan State 3
Purdue 9 SE Missouri State 2

Illinois 8 UT Pan American 0, 8th
Minnesota 6 UC-Santa Barbara 3, 7th

I thought the score was bad, but the Hawkeyes managed only two hits. Justin Toole had both Iowa safeties. Let's move on.

OSU's Dan Burkhart and Ryan Dew homered to lead the Buckeyes. Burkhart had four hits and four RBI. Dew had three RBI. Drew Rucinski, who has been very impressive, posted the W.

Johnathan Roof had two hits for MSU in the loss. Jeff Holm had the lone Spartans' RBI.

Matt Jansen worked seven innings allowing two runs on three hits and four walks to post the victory for Purdue. Jansen struck out six. Dan Black homered and drove in two. Johnathan Moore also drove in a pair of runs for the Boilers.

Phil Haig went seven innings giving up only three hits and two walks for Illinois. Josh Parr has gone 4 for 4 with two RBI. Aaron Johnson hit a first inning grand slam.

Michael Kvasnicka and Jon Hummel have gone yard for Minnesota. A.J. Pettersen has three hits. Chauncy Handran started and worked six strong innings.

The best the Big Ten can do today is 4-8. Quite a difference over last weekend. This may be the last update for tonight. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

Connected Again

Technology can be a wonderful thing. When it's working properly. Unfortunately, my high speed internet connection hasn't been either high speed or connected for several days. If you were curious as to why I haven't commented on any of the midweek games or why I have yet to respond to your email inquiry, now you know.

Come to think of it, there's no guarantee that this post will appear. I'll attempt to type more quickly in hopes of make the maximum use of this window of opportunity. (Noting, of course, that the spelling errors will increase proportionately to my typing speed.)

Let's review midweek action. Northwestern and Minnesota lost. Michigan won.

West Virginia dropped Northwestern on Monday, 10-5. Kenneth Avila and Jake Goebbert were your stars. Avila went 4 for 5. Goebbert cracked his first homer of the season. Austin Markel hit two homers for WVU.

I should point out that I received an email suggesting I failed to select NU's Avila for the All-Weekend team. A case could be made, as the Wildcats' DH was 4 for 6, scored twice, walked twice, stole a base and got an HBP. I was told he played some secondbase this past weekend, as well, and that he should be given the nod at that spot.

It's a fair assessment. It seems a bit tardy to add him now (thank you, Mr. Internet Service Provider), but I should point out that Avila is off to a very strong 8 for 11 start.

Michigan came from behind (again) and beat North Florida. The final was 9-8. Kevin Cislo's three-run RBI single was the big hit. Chris Berset and Nate McLouth both went yard for the Wolverines who improved to 5-0. Mike Wilson, the third of five Michigan hurlers, picked up his first win of the year. Tyler Burgoon's early season dominance continued with 2.1 innings of one-hit, one-walk baseball. Burgoon earned his first save.

The Gophers fell to Hawai'i on Thursday evening, 6-2. Matt Nohelty got two more hits extending his personal hit streak to twenty games dating back to last season. Michael Kvasnicka, Derek McCallum and Nick O'Shea also had a pair of hits for The U. Vinnie Catricala had three RBI for the Rainbow Warriors. (They still are the Rainbow Warriors, aren't they?)

While we are on the subject of Minnesota baseball, the Gophers are hosting the Dairy Queen Classic this weekend. It will be the 25th edition of the tournament and Minnesota's athletic department is running an election for the 25th Anniversary All-DQ Team.

Look at the list of players that have participated in this event. It features some of the better college baseball players in recent history. You could almost substitute the DQ Anniversary ballot for a College Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

I'm not sure what the future of the Dairy Queen Classic is, as the Metrodome's future looks bleak, but it has provided an outlet from some of the best teams and players in college baseball to appear north of the Mason-Dixon line. (Before Memorial Day, no less.) I hate domes as much as the next traditionalist, but there's no denying its benefit to the Gophers' program.

There's more to share, but I'm going to hit the "Publish" button and see what happens. If there's success, expect more posts later today. Strike that. The internet's been way too squirrely to expect anything. We will both hope for more later.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wrapping Up The Challenge

The initial Big East/Big Ten Challenge is over. It's safe to call the first foray a success. It might be easier for me to come to that conclusion, as the conference I spend 99% of my time covering prevailed. Yet, that's not the reason I'd classify it as a success.

The event generated more media exposure than nearly anything else the conferences could have done independently. Let's be honest, if Ohio State had gone 3-0 over the weekend playing anyone else not in the top 30, would they have been ranked today? Not a chance. That's not a slap at the Buckeyes performance, which was terrific, but it's indicative of the respect and media attention the challenge created.

It was also a boon for MLB scouts. To assemble the two cold weather conferences together in a single region for three days allowed scouts to get an extended look at players that they might not take a second look at. In that sense, the Big East/Big Ten Challenge was a success for the players, MLB and the event organizers.

Now, do we need to see the entire Big East participate? Absolutely. (I'm thinking Louisville would have preferred this event over their weekend plans.) Do we need some television coverage? Do I really need to ask? I understand money is the answer, but how the Big Ten Network doesn't provide some kind of coverage remains mind-numbing.

All in all, though, it was a solid opening act for the event. The organizers deserve plenty of credit. Hopefully, Year Two will be even better.

My favorite stat line of the weekend comes courtesy of Purdue's Dan Black. The All-Big Ten 3B posted this line against Notre Dame: 0 AB, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 RBI, 5 BB. Yep, five walks. (Check it out.) Either the Irish really respect the Boiler's power-hitter or they had some serious trouble finding the plate when he strolled up there.

The good folks at have released the official Big East/Big Ten Challenge All-Tournament Team. Here's their list.

As yesterday drew to a close, I began rehashing the boxscores looking to select an all-tournament side made up of just Big Ten players. Surprise! My list and the "official" one, don't quite mesh. Not only do we have a different players, but I actually selected a firstbaseman and secondbaseman. I'm all in favor of expanding the list of honorees to include anyone deemed worthy, but come on. You can't have a baseball team without a right side of the infield.

It won't make-up for those guys ignored, but I present the very first (and possibly last) All-Weekend Team of 2009.

C - Josh Phegley, Indiana (6 for 11/3 R/3 RBI/BB)
1B - Jerrud Sabourin, Indiana (7 for 14/2B/2 R/RBI)
2B - Derek McCallum, Minnesota (4 for 12/2 RBI/2 BB/SB)
SS - Brandon Wikoff, Illinois (5 for 12/HR/6 R/2 RBI/5 BB)
3B - Dominic Altobelli, Illinois (5 for 13/3B/3 R/6 RBI/2 BB/HBP)
3B - Brian DeLucia, Ohio State (3 for 11/2 HR/3 R/6 RBI)
OF - Mike Kvasnicka, Minnesota (5 for 12/3 2B/HR/4 R/4 RBI/BB)
OF - Nick Urban, Michigan (9 for 19/R/4 RBI)
OF - Kenny Fellows, Michigan (7 for 14/R/2 RBI)
DH - Jake McLouth, Michigan (7 for 17/3B/HR/R/4 RBI)
DH - Alex Dickerson, Indiana (5 for 14/2B/HR/4 R/5 RBI)
UT - Mike Deese, Penn State (7 for 12/2B/4 R/3 RBI/3 BB)
SP - Alex Wimmers, Ohio State (6.0 IP/4 H/0 R/0 ER/3 BB/7 K; Win)
SP - Eric Jokisch, Northwestern (9.0 IP/10 H/3 R/1 ER/2 BB/9 K; CG, Win)
SP - T.J. Macy, Penn State (7.0 IP/2 H/1 R/1 ER/2 BB/8 K; ND)
BP - Andrew Armstrong, Ohio State (6.2 IP/3 H/0 R/0 ER/2 BB/5 K; Win)
RP - Drew Rucinski, Ohio State (6.1 IP/3 H/0 R/0 ER/1 BB/6 K; Save, Win)
RP - Tyler Burgoon, Michigan (5.0 IP/4 H/0 R/0 ER/0 BB/4 K; Two Wins)

BN - Chris Roberts, Michigan State (5 for 12/2B/3 R/RBI/2 SB)
BN - Brandon Haveman, Purdue (7 for 19/2B/3 R/4 RBI/BB/SB)
BN - Eric Decker, Minnesota (7 for 13/2B/3 R/BB/SB)
BN - Aaron Johnson, Illinois (4 for 12/3 R/4 RBI/BB/HBP)
BN - Wes Freie, Iowa (2 for 8/HR/4 R/2 RBI/5.0 IP/6 H/1 R/1 ER/2 BB/7 K; Win)
BP - Nolan Moody, Michigan State (7.0 IP/7 H/2 R/2 ER/BB/K; Win)
BP - Eric Katzman, Michigan (7.0 IP/7 H/1 R/1 ER/BB/4 K; Win)
BP - Eric Arnett, Indiana (6.0 IP/4 H/2 R/2 ER/2 BB/8 K; Win)

Per usual, I probably omitted somebody that deserved the honor. Presuming, of course, you think making my All-Weekend Team is an honor. If you want to point out my oversight, stupidity, whatever, drop me an email and make the case for your player. I'm not opposed to making changes. Just be advised that I might not concur with you.

Polling Data: Michigan, OSU Move Up

On the heels of their undefeated starts, both Michigan and Ohio State find themselves ranked this week. Michigan, technically, has moved up in the polls. Collegiate Baseball now has Michigan checking in at # 28, up one spot from a week ago. The Wolverines 4-0 start garnered them a bit more love from the writers, as Michigan is now at # 25 in the NCBWA poll after sitting at # 30 last week.

Ohio State climbed into Collegiate Baseball's poll at number thirty. The Buckeyes are off to a 3-0 start after the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Challenge: Sunday Open Thread

Technically, it's not quite Sunday morning as I type this. However, the teams are getting an early start on Sunday, so I'm going to get this thread started now. Just like the previous two days, I encourage everyone to share scoring updates and opinions in the comments section.

I'll be adding my thoughts throughout the day. Although, I wouldn't expect anything from me prior to lunch.

6:15pm UConn punished Northwestern, 10-1. UConn SS Mike Olt went 4 for 4 with 4 RBI and a homerun. The Wildcats could only muster five hits.

5:30pm Notre Dame beat Purdue, 9-4. Boilers' OF Brandon Haveman had three hits, two runs and a RBI.

Illinois beat WVU, 17-10. Illini C Aaron Johnson had three hits, three runs and three RBI. Pete Cappetta had three hits and three RBI. Joe Bonadonna also had three RBI.

4:40pm The Hoosiers prevail, 9-7, over South Florida. Freshman Blake Monar gets a win in his first collegiate start. Jake Dunning picks up his first collegiate save, as well. Freshman Alex Dickerson had three hits, including his first homer, and drove in four runs. Jerrud Sabourin had three hits and Josh Phegley had two.

The Big Ten will take today's action and the series.

4:25pm Michigan wins, 4-2. Eric Katzman goes seven innings and gets the win. Mike Dufek picks up the save.

4:20pm Michigan is up on St. John's 4-2. It's the ninth inning. Purdue is up on ND, 4-3. It's the top of the eighth. Indiana is holding on against USF, 9-7. That game is in the bottom of the eighth. Illinois is doubling up WVU, 14-7. It's the sixth inning.

2:45pm Ohio State beat Cincinnati, 6-5. Brian DeLucia homers twice and drives in four. Dan Burkhart triples and drives in two. Drew Rucincki gets the win in relief. Jake Hale posts save number one in 2009.

Iowa downs Georgetown, 4-2. Wes Freie goes yard and has two RBI. Freie also started and posted his first win. Freie worked five innings allowing six hits, a walk and one earned run. Freie struck out seven Hoyas. Justin Toole gets two hits and drives in the other two Hawkeyes runs. Mike Schurz posts the save.

Minnesota beat up Michigan State, 7-2. The U's Mike Kvansnicka homers, amongst his two hits, and drives in three. A.J. Pettersen got three hits, two runs scored and two RBI for the Gophers. Tom Buske was the winner. Buske went six innings giving up three hits and two earned runs. Chris Roberts and Jonathan Roof both had a pair of hits for MSU.

Penn State finished off Seton Hall, 6-1. The Nittany Lions post all six runs in the ninth. David Lutz won the game in relief. Lutz worked the final two frames and didn't allow a hit. T.J. Macy pitched seven innings of two-hit baseball. Macy allowed only one run. Mike Deese had three hits and two RBI. Blake Lynd had two RBI, as well.

West Virginia is up on Illinois, 5-1. They are in the second inning.

Michigan is up on St. John's, 3-1. It's the bottom of the sixth.

Notre Dame and Purdue are scoreless in the second. Indiana and South Florida are also scoreless in the third. I've got no update on Northwestern and UConn.

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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Challenge: Friday Open Thread

The Big East/Big Ten Challenge is underway (weather permitting, of course). Each of the next three days, I'm going to start an open thread where either you or I can comment on the day's action. Let the games begin!

11:17pm Eric Jokisch tosses a complete game and Northwestern prevails, 5-3, over Georgetown. The Big Ten takes Day One.

Illinois is beating Iowa, 7-2. It's the seventh inning.

That's all for tonight, folks. Thanks to everyone for sharing updates and opinions in the comments section. I hope everyone will be back for more on Saturday. I, alas, may be in the snow removal business for part(s) of the day.

10:25pm Ohio State downs Notre Dame, 2-0. Alex Wimmers gets the "W", Drew Rucinski notches the save. Wimmers fanned seven in six innings. He yielded four hits and three walks. Rucinski struck out three in three innings of work. Justin Miller and Cory Rupert drive in the Buckeye tallies. A very strong opener for OSU. The Big Ten will do no worse than a split of today's games.

Iowa is up 2-1 over Illinois. It's the bottom of the fifth inning.

9:46pm As you may have noted in the comments, after a strong start, things have gone south for the Big Ten. Michigan and Purdue posted dramatic come-from-behind wins and Michigan State also held serve in the first game. However, the Big East has taken the last three affairs. St. John's drilled Penn State 15-6. West Virginia put a hurt on Indiana, 14-4. Seton Hall pounded Minnesota, 11-2.

Two games left with Northwestern against Georgetown and Notre Dame versus Ohio State. Illinois and Iowa are also underway.

4:25pm Apparently, the Boilers and Bearcats are battling it out in a good, old fashioned slugfest. (Check out the comments section. BTH readers are on top of all the action.) 10-8, Cincinnati was the last update. Correction, 9:44pm: It's wasn't Satterwhite who went yard twice, it was both Mike Spina and Justin Riddell who homered twice.

Keep checking the comments for updates and posters, keep up the good work. I'll be reporting back in later this evening.

4:15pm West Virginia has plated three in the top of the first and lead Indiana by a 3-0 score. A lineup note, freshmen Cody Webber got the start at 2B for IU. Chris Hervey (RF), Evan Crawford (CF) and Michael Earley (LF) are your Hoosier OFs. Kipp Schutz, anyone?

I can't quite figure out what to make of the Purdue and Cincinnati game. The only score I've been able to track down still has Cincinnati up 5-4, in the fourth. It's been that way for over an hour. Maybe if I turn on the Big Ten Network, they will have the game on ............ oh, never mind.

4:05pm Michigan wins it, 6-5, in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Nick Urban opened the inning by doubling, two outs were recorded, then Kenny Fellows hit a ball back up the middle that the USF infielder couldn't quite handle. Urban scored and Michigan posts a come-from-behind win in the opener.

I'll presume it's a win for Tyler Burgoon who sat the Bulls down in order in the top of the stanza. Other good news for the Maize and Blue, both frosh catchers -- Coley Crank and Jake McLouth -- displayed some power. More on this game a bit later. Time to see if I can track down any other scores.

3:45pm Michigan ties it up at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth. LaMarre drives in two and a failed pick-off attempt yeilds the tying run.

3:30pm USF adds on to its lead, the score is now 5-2 Bulls in the eighth.

3:10pm Apparently, there are technical problems at Jack Russell Stadium where Michigan is playing USF. Neither their radio or the GameTracker can function. USF is doing a live chat from the site. Plenty of Maize and Blue supporters appear to be in the Bulls' chat room. South Florida leads Michigan, 3-2 in the seventh inning.

The GameTracker for the Purdue/Cincinnati contest froze up with the Bearcats up 5-4, in the fourth. Ahh, the joys of following college baseball.

2:00pm Cincinnati posted a three-spot on Purdue in the top of the third. The Bearcats have wrestled back the lead, 5-4. No score to report from the USF - Michigan game. It was supposed to begin an hour ago.

Nick Overmyer singled in a run, Wolgamot drove in two more and Purdue now leads Cincinnati (a pretty good team, by the way), 4-2.

The Jake Boss Era opens at Michigan State with a victory. The Spartans down UConn, 4-2. Nolan Moody looks good in his first start going seven innings while allowing seven hits. Kurt Wunderlich pitches a scoreless eighth and Kurtis Frymier pitches the final frame to earn his first MSU save.

Brandon Eckerle batted leadoff and collected three hits, two RBI and stole two bases. A.J. Shindler and Chris Roberts both had a pair of hits. Eli Boike and Jeff Holm both swiped two bags and Roberts also stole a base. Is it premature to think that Coach Boss might be a tad aggressive on the base paths this year?

Cincinnati has jumped out on Purdue, 2-1 after the first inning. Bearcat cleanup hitter Mike Spina hit a two-run homer off Matt Bischoff. Boilers' 2B Ben Wolgamot scored on a Tyler Spliner sac fly.

Opening Day

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

- Song of Solomon, 2:11 - 12, KJV

As most of you know, I live in Michigan. A such, I grew up listening to the Detroit Tigers baseball on the radio with Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey on the mic. Before the start of the first Spring Training broadcast each year, Harwell quoted the chapter and verse above. Over the years, Harwell's use of the Biblical quote came to symbolize both the start of spring and the beginning of baseball season. As such, I decided to share this little Michigan tradition with all of you on this Opening Day of the college baseball season.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rivals Preseason Regional Projections begins the new season with their NCAA Regional predictions. I don't want to ruin the surprise for you, so you'll have to go check out the link provided.

BA Previews The Challenge, Nation

Jesse Burkhart and Brian Chmielewski of Baseball America preview this weekend's Big East/Big Ten Challenge series. In addition to offering up a preview of the teams, they look at some of the individual performers.

BA's Aaron Fitt previews the big stories around the nation heading into the first weekend of play.

2009 Preview: Purdue

Purdue Boilermakers
Head Coach: Doug Schreiber
2008 Record: 30-24 (21-10, second in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: Last year, the Boilers came out of the gate 0-9. The Purdue offense made a dramatic change when Coach Schreiber batted 2B Ben Wolgamot behind leadoff man Brandon Haveman. The Boilers offense, and the team, never looked back. Wolgamot earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by hitting .368 and finishing third in the conference in on-base percentage at .479. Leadoff man Haveman also earned all-conference attention. He was tenth in batting average (.379), fifth in runs scored (60), sixth in hits (83), tied for fifth in doubles (16) and tied for fourth in triples (5). The Boilers’ senior table-setters return to the fold in ‘09.

The thunder in the Purdue lineup is provided by 3B Dan Black. The junior was second in the conference in homers (18) and RBI (70), third in total bases (131) and slugging percentage (.675). Black also hit a Big Ten record five homeruns in the conference tournament. He’s on the Wallace Award watch list and is on everybody’s preseason All-Big Ten team.

The remainder of the Boilers’ lineup is veteran laden, as well. Senior Eric Nielsen (.288, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 45 starts) returns behind the plate. Senior Jon Cummins (.279 in 86 AB) takes over at first base. Senior Jonathan Moore (.321, 31 RBI and 11 steals in 56 starts) and junior Jonathan Lilly (.425, 21 RBI in 87 at bats) will hold the final two outfield spots. Senior Alex Jaffee is also expected to see action in the Boilers’ outfield.

Junior Nick Overmyer (.280, 22 RBI in 52 starts) returns to shorstop. However, Overmyer is being pushed by freshman sensation Barrett Serrato. The high school standout from West Chicago is considered one of the top five newcomers in the Big Ten by Baseball America.

On The Mound: Friday starter Matt Bischoff returns to anchor the Boilers’ rotation. Bischoff went 6-3 with a 3.96 ERA in ‘08. The righthander also held opposing batters to a .247 average (5th in the Big Ten), worked 77.1 innings (5th) and started 14 games (tied 1st).

Junior Matt Jansen was a third -team All-Big Ten choice last season going 4-3 with a 5.44 ERA. The lefty looks to be the number two starter in ‘09. Sophomore Kyle Cook (5-3, 4.65), junior Connor Sestak (1-3 with 20 K’s in 22.2 IP) and sophomore Matt Morgan (1-0 with 19 K’s in 23.1 IP) are in line to complete Purdue’s rotation.

The Boilers' set-up man should be Drew Wurdack. Wurdack, a junior righthander, went 2-0 with a save and struck out 15 in 20.1 IP. Another junior righthander looks to become Purdue's closer. Kevin Cahill was 3-0 with a 4.28 ERA in 2008. He also fanned 22 in 27.1 IP.

The Schedule: Apparently, just playing Cincinnati, South Florida and Notre Dame wasn‘t quite good enough, the Boilers get a non-conference look at Michigan during the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, as well. Amongst others on the non-conference slate are nationally ranked Louisville, two at Illinois-Chicago , a UIC visit to West Lafayette, four games at both SE Missouri State and Texas State.

The Boilermakers open the Big Ten campaign at Northwestern and will travel to Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State. Purdue’s home series are Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana and Illinois.

Bottom Line: Is anyone in the Big Ten better on paper than Purdue? They return almost their entire lineup and two all-conference starters from a team that finished second in the Big Ten in both the regular season and conference tournament. The pitchers lost are being replaced by guys with very good K/IP marks, albeit in limited duty.

Of course, looking good on paper in February counts for very little. And, as we know, the Boilers have a habit of making my predictions look bad. (Although, I think they did live up to my expectations in ‘08.) Nonetheless, Purdue has to be considered amongst the favorites to win the Big Ten in 2009.

2009 Preview: Penn State

Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach: Robbie Wine
2008 Record: 26-29 (17-15, third in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: The 2009 edition of the Nittany Lions have number of senior leaders in the lineup. Firstbaseman Cory Wine, second baseman Landon Nakata, shortstop Wes Borden, utility man Mike Deese, outfielders Ryan Boonie and Rick Marlin all return for their final seasons in Happy Valley.

Wine (.278, 6 HR, 39 RBI) started in 58 games last year. Nakata hit .277 with three homers and 25 RBI in ‘08. Borden (.313 and 13 steals) will probably open the year at shortstop, but could find himself at a number of other spots before the season’s over. Deese missed the majority of last season with an injury, but will play a large role on this year’s squad. Marlin, like Wine, started in all 58 games and hit .278. Boonie hit .295 in only 34 starts (122 AB’s).

Freshman Jordan Steranka has been penciled in at third base. Fellow frosh Ryan Clark and sophomore Ben Heath are in a battle to assume the catching job. JUCO transfer Michael Glantz could take over at short, pushing Borden to 3B, OF or DH. Glantz is listed as one of the top five newcomers in the Big Ten by Baseball America. There are also high hopes for freshman infielder Joey DeBernardis, who was drafted by the Florida Marlins last year.

Another junior college addition, Blake Lynd, should round out the PSU outfield. Lynd hit .421 and stole 31 bases at Alvin CC last season.

On The Mound: Before the season even gets underway, Penn State has a pitching dilemma. Number one starter Mike Wanamaker (6-5, 3.41 ERA in 87 IP) is out for the year. Senior Scott Kelley appears to have the inside track to claim the Friday starter‘s role. Kelley‘s been used as both a pitcher and an outfielder during his tenure at State College. While only tossing eight innings last year, rumor has it Kelley might be elevated to the top spot in the rotation.

Others looking to take the hill for PSU on the weekend include seniors Scott Lorenston and T.J. Macy. Lorenston, a lefthander, went 4-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 2008, while Macy, a righthander, posted a 4-2 mark with a 5.35 ERA.

The remaining starting spots and the bullpen roles are going to come down to battles in practice and performances once the season begins. David Lutz, Kayle Sickler, John Karr, Calvin Grumley all saw action in ‘08 and are looking for more innings pitched this campaign. The hope was transfer Drew Palen might emerge as the Lions’ closer, but he’s still struggling a bit. The lack of clear cut answers leaves the door wide open for this year’s freshmen class to take a more prominent role.

The Schedule: Well, those four game at Texas loom large on the Lions‘ slate, don‘t they? Amongst the other non-conference high points are four games at Rutgers and a home-and-home (although over a week apart) against nationally ranked Kent State plus St. John‘s in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Have to give Coach Wine credit, he doesn’t duck anybody.

The ‘09 conference season begins at home versus Ohio State. Later on, Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota (to close the season) visit Happy Valley. The road schedule open at Michigan before going to Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa.

Bottom Line: Penn State looks to have enough offense to compete in ’09. Between a deep senior class that’s won their share of games and an interesting group of new faces (has anyone done a better job of getting immediate help from transfers than Coach Wine?), they should score enough runs to be in the top six teams. Unfortunately, the question at State College is the pitching.

It would be very difficult for any program to make up for losing their number one starter. It’s even more challenging at a northern school where pitching depth is often thin to begin with. One can’t expect Penn State to easily brush aside the loss of Wanamaker. Having so many pitching questions -- both in the rotation and the ‘pen -- makes it easy to dismiss PSU. Yet, Wine seems to find a way to get his team to outperform expectations. (At least, expectations outside Happy Valley.) If PSU can land in the Big Ten Tournament, this season should be considered a success regardless of the record.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rivals' Power Rankings

The first edition of this year's Rivals Power Rankings are out. There is only a single Big Ten player (or coach) listed amongst the top ten at his position. Yes, it's Indiana's Josh Phegley at catcher. Phegley is the top ranked backstop in the land entering the season.

2009 Preview: Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes
Head Coach: Bob Todd
2008 Record: 30-24 (15-15, fifth in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: Coach Todd returns a veteran lineup in 2009. The group is led by senior captain 1B Justin Miller. Miller, who may well be the most overlooked player in the Big Ten, finished sixth in the conference in batting average (.395), tied for fifth in RBI (61), tied for fifth in doubles (16) and tied for ninth in hits (79). While Miller couldn’t garner any all-conference recognition in ‘08, he begins this season amongst those considered for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.

All of Miller’s infield mates return, as well. Sophomore catcher Dan Burkhart looks to improve on his solid freshman performance. Burkhart posted a.308 average and 29 RBIs in his first season in Columbus. 2B Cory Kovanda, a junior, hit .324 and scored 45 times a season ago. Kovanda’s middle infield partner is sophomore SS Tyler Engle. Engle hit .252 in his freshman campaign. Thirdbase belongs to junior Cory Rupert (.313 with 39 RBI). Brian DeLucia also saw time in the OSU infield and should fill a utility role again in ‘09.

Juniors Ryan Dew (.261, 27 RBI) and Zach Hurley (.302, 18 RBI) return to corner outfield spots. They will be joined by newcomer Michael Stephens. Stephens, a JUCO transfer, is rated as one of the top five newcomers in the Big Ten by Baseball America. He will be the Bucks’ centerfielder. Senior Michael Arp (.367 in 22 starts) will continue to see action in the outfield, designated hitter and in a pinch-hitting role.

On The Mound: OSU has a bevy of returning arms to rely upon in ‘09. The pitching rotation should be led by sophomore Dean Wolosiansky. Last year, “Wolo” went 7-4 with a 4.22 ERA and claimed freshman All-America and second team All-Big Ten honors. He should be the Buckeyes’ Friday starter.

The battle for the remaining starting spots begins with lefthanded sophomore Andrew Armstrong. Armstrong was 4-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 38.2 IP in 2008. Fellow lefty Eric Best, who spent last season as the Buckeyes’ closer, might move into Coach Todd’s weekend rotation in 2009. Best collected eight saves while going 4-2 with a 4.29 ERA in ‘08.

Alex Wimmers, who was Best’s set-up man last season, and fellow sophomore Drew Rucinski are also in the mix to claim a starting role. A new face, freshman Russ Oltorik could push his way past the veterans and find himself in the OSU rotation.

While a number of Ohio State’s bullpen arms are looking to make the jump to starting, last year’s Friday starter, Jake Hale appears headed to the back-end of the Buckeyes bullpen. It won’t be an unfamiliar role for the senior righthander. Hale (5-3, 4.50) was the Bucks’ closer two seasons ago and has ten career saves. Hale is the lone Big Ten representative on the NCBWA’s Stopper of the Year preseason watch list.

The Schedule: The most daunting non-conference games for Ohio State are a date at Miami, FL right before the Big Ten season opens and two midweek games late in the year at Louisville. However, Notre Dame and Cincinnati are amongst the Big East/Big Ten Challenge opponents and there are two games at North Florida that shouldn’t be ignored. (Not that any games should be ignored.)

The conference schedule opens for OSU on the road at Penn State. Other trips include visits to Minnesota (in week two), Purdue and Illinois. Those with Columbus on their travel schedule include Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa.

Bottom Line: The 2009 Buckeyes are, perhaps, the most experienced team in the Big Ten. Their entire infield returns intact. The outfield returns two starters and adds a junior college All-American. The pitching staff has a senior closer and a rotation that, while young, saw plenty of action in 2008. Yet, not everything is perfect in Columbus.

Ohio State doesn’t hit many homers. They might not have the best defensive side in the conference, either. They are also coming off a disappointing season. Yet, it’s difficult to imagine OSU not finishing better than a year ago when they came in fifth place. The 2009 Buckeyes should take a run at the conference title. At worst, another top six finish is in order. As the Big Ten Tournament will be in their backyard, OSU should be a threat to claim the post-season crown, as well.

2009 Preview: Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats
Head Coach: Paul Stevens
2008 Record: 21-28 (14-18, seventh in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: Second team All-Big Ten member Jake Goebbert is the engine of the Wildcats’ offensive attack. Goebbert, who started in all 49 NU games, hit .353 with a school record 22 doubles in 2008. Goebbert also had a .665 slugging percentage (4th best in the Big Ten), .458 on-base percentage (8th) and belted ten homers (T-6). The junior is expected to make the move from first base to centerfield this season.

Sophomore Chris Lashmet started in 47 games last year and hit .299 with four homers and 38 RBI. Lashmet will hold down third base again in 2009. Senior Tommy Finn (.250) returns at shortstop. Chad Noble started 39 games and will be the Wildcats’ catcher. Tony Vercelli (.256) finds himself moving from behind the plate to right field this season. A pair of freshmen complete NU’s infield.

Paul Snider (1B) and Trevor Stevens (2B) appear to have secured starting roles in their initial season in Evanston. Leftfield also belongs to a first-year player. Freshman Quentin Williams, who is also on scholarship to play football at NU, will begin the year in the starting lineup.

Look for another frosh, Zach Morton, to open the year at designated hitter. He might also get see some time in the Wildcats’ outfield. Jim Grieco and Brant Cavagnaro will also hope to get into the NU outfield.

On The Mound: Lefty Eric Jokisch claimed the Big Ten Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2008. Jokisch won eight games (a school record for a first-year player) and was 7-1 versus Big Ten opposition. His 4.30 ERA was tenth best in the conference. He steps into the Friday starter’s role.

RHP Cole Livermore returns after missing all of 2008 with an injury. Livermore had a solid freshman season of his own two years ago and will be counted on as the Wildcats‘ number two starter. Freshman Morton looks to have the inside track to land the final weekend spot in the rotation. Two more lefthanders are vying for starting roles, juniors Joe Muraski (4-6) and David Jensen (1-6).

Freshman Francis Brooke and Williams, who like Morton will be called up to do double-duty, look to be important arms out of the ’Cats bullpen. The closer will be senior Matt Havey. Havey posted a 3-2 mark with six saves in ‘08.

The Schedule: Three at Kansas. Three at Illinois-Chicago. Four at New Mexico. Two at Kansas State. Consecutively. Not a neutral site game in the bunch. It’s not like playing in the SEC, but that’s not a cakewalk. Oh, they've got the Big East/Big Ten Challenge thing, too. The non-conference slate is going to be a challenge.

The conference season opens at home against Purdue. Iowa, Illinois and Michigan follow the Boilermakers into Evanston. The ‘Cats travel to MSU, Minnesota, Ohio State and Indiana.

Bottom Line: This could be a fun group of ‘Cats to watch. Jokisch looks to build on a good freshman campaign and Livermore’s return could really help the rotation. Goebbert can swing the bat with anyone in the conference. Lashmet looked like a hitter in his first season. Then, there are all those freshmen. Williams and Morton could pop-up anywhere on the field -- including the mound -- or the lineup. (Which is part of the charm of college baseball, isn’t it?) Who knows what to expect from the first-year rightside of the infield?

Will the potential for entertainment translate into wins? It always difficult to pencil a team into the conference tournament when they have such a heavy reliance on freshmen and/or untested players. NU is no different. In the perfect storm scenario, the ‘Cats do get into the top six. Anything less and NU may be interesting to follow, but not poised for the post-season until 2010.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Golden Spikes: Phegley, Fetter

The 2009 Golden Spikes Award Watchlist has been released. Two Big Ten players have been recognized. Indiana's Josh Phegley and Michigan's Chris Fetter are both on this year's preseason list. The Golden Spikes is given annually by USA Baseball to the best amateur player in the game.

Note: You'll have to click on the link (on the left) of the Golden Spikes website to see the list.

College Newspaper Reports

There are a couple of college newspaper reports to pass along this afternoon. First, Iowa's Justin Toole downplays all the preseason accolades being tossed his way. Ryan Young, of The Daily Iowan, also suggests that Toole cited:

"... a significant lack of leadership last year when the Hawkeyes finished the regular season dead last in the Big Ten standings ...."

That's to the point. And speaking of being direct, Tim Rohan of the Michigan Daily, recaps the tone from last night's "Meet The Wolverines" event. Seems a number of players are none too happy about being dismissed as the favorites in the conference. When asked about Baseball America having Indiana above Michigan in the standings Alan Oaks said

"Guys see that and are really kinda pissed off about it, actually,"

Tri-captain Tim Kalcynski called it "a slap in the face". I can also attest that Mike Dufek had similar comments on WTKA radio last night and tri-captain Kevin Cislo was pretty fired up about those writing off the 2009 Wolverines.

Hale Is On Stopper Watchlist

Ohio State senior Jake Hale has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year watchlist. Hale, a righthander, is moving back to the Buckeyes bullpen this year after spending 2008 in the OSU starting rotation. He is the lone Big Ten representative on the initial watchlist.

2009 Preview: Minnesota

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Head Coach: John Anderson
2008 Record: 20-35 (10-21, ninth in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: The lightning in the Gophers’ offense comes from Matt Nohelty and Eric Decker. In 2008, Nohelty was third in the Big Ten in batting average (.397), second in hits (94), sixth in triples (t-4), fifth in steals (t-24) and eighth in runs (53). Nohelty was named to the first-team All-Big Ten squad and starts this year looking for All-America attention.

Decker, who made Baseball America’s preseason all-conference squad, hit .329 with three homers and 28 RBI last season. He also scored 42 runs in 42 starts. Nohelty and Decker are two-thirds of the Minnesota outfield. The last member of the trio is sophomore Mike Kvasnicka. In his freshmen season, Kvansicka showed flashes of power with ten doubles and four homeruns. Senior Jon Hummel and redshirt freshman Trip Schultz could also see playing time in the outfield or at DH.

Returning behind the plate is junior Kyle Knudson. Knudson (.238) made 35 starts last season. Junior shortstop Derek McCallum (.291, 3 HR, 32 RBI) started in all 54 games last season and is considered by Baseball America to be one of the top five, draft eligible prospects in the Big Ten in 2009. The remainder of the infield slots could end up in the hands of three redshirt freshmen.

The Gophers are excited about A.J. Pettersen (2B), Kyle Gleason (3B) and Nick O’Shea (1B). The three first-year guys might round out the Gophers infield. Sophomore middle infielder Drew Hanish saw a few AB’s last season and might contend for more this year. Regardless of who claims the open jobs, the Minnesota infield should be very young in 2009.

On The Mound: Senior Tom Buske (4-6, 4.92) would appear to be the Gophers number one starter. Dustin Klabunde is amongst a group of sophomores that might grab hold of a weekend spot in the rotation. Fellow sophs Luke Rasmussen, Scott Fern, Phil Isaksson, Seth Rosin or Cullen Sexton are potential starters, as well. Veterans Chanucy Handran, Tyler Oakes and and Allen Bechstein could also see plenty of innings, although not necessarily in the rotation.

Minnesota’s bullpen is headlined by Scott Matyas. Matyas, another sophomore, posted a 3-4 mark with two saves last year. He also fanned 33 in 32 innings pitched and garnered Baseball America’s all-conference closer spot this preseason.

The Schedule: If you trust Boyd’s World’s Strength of Schedule breakdown, Minnesota had the toughest slate of games amongst Big Ten teams. The highlight of their non-conference slate is a three-game series at veteran NCAA tournament side, TCU. Yet, there’s more than just the Horned Frogs on the horizon.

Hawaii, Washington and UC-Santa Barbara all visit the Metrodome for this year’s Dairy Queen Classic. (Not quite as appealing a slate as normal, but still a bumpy slate for the Gophers -- or anybody else in the north, for that matter.) And, as an added bonus, there are two midweek games at Missouri during Big Ten play.

In conference action, it’s Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Penn State on the road. Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa land in Minneapolis.

Bottom Line: Last year was a nightmare for Minnesota. It was Coach Anderson’s first losing season in twenty-seven years. With a painfully young team and a difficult schedule, 2009 might yield another season with more L’s than W’s. While the Gophers might not be poised for a regular season championship this year, they still have the opportunity to improve on last season‘s finish.

Only five wins separated Minnesota from sixth place and a spot in the Big Ten tournament in ‘08. The question is can Coach Anderson get a lineup with up to four redshirt freshmen (and three returning all-conference caliber players -- Nohelty, McCallum and Decker) and a pitching staff with plenty of underclassmen to win another five games (or more)? History favors Minnesota.

College Baseball Today Opens Shop

Stitched Ball Nation, rejoice!

Yes, boys and girls, your friend and mine, Eric Sorenson, is back. Big E is cranking out fresh college baseball opinions at the shiny new site called Let's try that name over one more time, but this time do it in your best in-studio host voice. (I'm leaning towards Brent Musburger, circa 1978, but that just reveals my age. You choose whatever voice works for you.)

"Welcome to College.........Baseball........TODAY!".

That makes it more impressive, doesn't it?

Eric may not have been in his new home long, but the lad's been busy. The item that might intrigue most of you is his Big Ten Preview. Sorenson provides some opinions that I might not concur with, so it's a good idea to check out his take on the conference. (The odds are he's right and I'm wrong. After all, he's a professional. I'm just a guy with internet access.)

Needless to say, college baseball gets a boost with Sorenson's new website. Of course, I'll be providing a sidebar link to his new digs, as well.

Welcome back, Eric.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Phegley Is Rivals All-America

Rivals has issued their preseason All-America Team. The lone Big Ten player on the list is Indiana's Josh Phegley. Kendall Rogers' write-up included this line:

Phegley will become a household name this season.

New Illini Blog

I'm happy to report the addition of a new college baseball blog. The Illinois Baseball Report is the name of the blog run by our friend Tom, The Baseball Zealot. As the name implies, Tom's moving all his Blue and Orange baseball thoughts to the new site. Obviously, I encourage everyone to stop in at IBR.

2009 Preview: Michigan State

Michigan State Spartans
Head Coach: Jake Boss
2008 Record: 24-29 (12-18, eighth in Big Ten)

At The Plate: Leading the Spartans’ bats is junior Chris Roberts. Roberts, a second team All-Big Ten selection last year, hit .363 with 32 RBI and seven triples. The expectation is that Roberts will move onto the list of the conference’s elite hitters in 2009. The Wisconsin native will be moving from the OF to 3B this season.

Roberts does have some help returning. Senior catcher Eric Roof is coming off a season where he hit .308 with three homers and thirty-three RBI. Eric’s brother, Jonathan, is the Spartans’ shortstop. In his freshman season, Roof hit .299 with two dingers and 25 RBI while starting in 53 games.

Sophomore Jeff Holm looks to have claimed the first base job. Holm saw limited action last season (14 starts in 16 appearances), but show some promise hitting .385. Junior college transfer Ben Vrobel could also see time at first and might end up pushing Holm into the outfield. Rounding out the infield is senior 2B A.J. Shindler. There’s also a chance freshman Jared Hook could see at bats at second, as well.

Defensive stalwart Brandon Eckerle mans centerfield for MSU. In 2008, Eckerle (.278) did not commit an error. JUCO transfer Bo Felt looks like the choice in leftfield. Felt hit .430 last season. Junior Eli Boike looks to be the starter in right field. Although, as mentioned earlier, Holm could also get at bats in RF.

On The Mound: Senior Nolan Moody is the most likely number one starter. Moody was 2-4 a season ago, but has not been a starter in his MSU career. The number two guy is sophomore A.J. Achter. Achter (1-3, 5.88) made eight starts last year. Junior Kyle Corcoran and freshman Tony Bucciferro are both vying for the final weekend spot in the rotation.

Bucciferro was an Illinois prep standout. He went 21-1 in his two years on the varsity squad. Corcoran, a 6’ 6” lefty, tossed just 24.1 innings in ‘08. If not in the rotation, Corcoran could be the Spartans’ closer. JUCO transfer Kyle Frymier is also looking to claim the stopper’s role.

Regardless of their roles, expect sophomores Kurt Wunderlich and Seth Williams to also see plenty of time on the mound in 2009.

The Schedule: A two game series at nationally ranked Clemson highlights the non-conference portion of MSU‘s schedule. There’s also four games in three days at UNC-Wilmington., a trip to Daytona Beach and an extended stay in Greenville, SC in addition to the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Of course, like much of the Big Ten, MSU will have a number of MAC schools as midweek opposition.

In Big Ten play, the Spartans will travel to Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana, in addition to visiting Ann Arbor for the Friday and Sunday games of their series. The Green and White will host Michigan on the Saturday of their series, plus have Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue come calling.

Bottom Line: While a new coach and a newly renovated ballpark (which is supposed to be ready for the home opener) should help generate some enthusiasm for Spartans baseball in 2009, the MSU faithful shouldn’t expect miracles from Coach Boss.

While he did manage to guide Eastern Michigan into the NCAA Tournament a year ago, his first season in Ypsilanti, it’s difficult to envision a repeat performance in East Lansing this year. With so many untested arms in the rotation, just a trip to the Big Ten Tournament should be warmly embraced.

2009 Preview: Michigan

Michigan Wolverines
Head Coach: Rich Maloney
2008 Record: 42-12 (26-5, first in the Big Ten; won conference tournament.)

At The Plate: Much of the lineup that powered Michigan to three successive Big Ten regular seasons titles is now applying their craft at the next level. While this will be a new look offense, not all of the faces are unfamiliar.

Returning to the fold are senior Kevin Cislo, juniors Chris Berset, Mike Dufek and Alan Oaks and sophomore Ryan LaMarre. Cislo (.348 with 18 steals) is moving from the outfield back to second base where he was a first-team All-Big Ten performer two years ago. Baseball America has Cislo tabbed as the preseason all-conference choice at second. (Although, don’t be surprised if Cislo ends up at short.)

Berset (.244) started 37 games in ‘08 and returns behind the plate. Dufek (.321, 3 HR, 24 RBI) started 25 games a season ago and will hold down first base. Oaks, who started 39 games and hit .250 with six dingers, is Michigan’s right fielder. LaMarre will be the everyday centerfielder in ‘09 after starting in 40 games last year. In his freshman campaign, LaMarre hit .305 with three homers and 23 RBI.

Kenny Fellows (LF) and Nick Urban (DH) both saw very limited action last year, but have been given the chance to start this season. Anthony Toth, a redshirt sophomore, will take over at shortstop after sitting out all of last year. (As implied earlier, Cislo could end up at SS, Toth would then move to 2B.) A freshman, John Lorenz, has been handed the keys at third base.

Two other freshmen, Coley Crank and Jake McLouth (redshirt), may get into the lineup, as well. Both are listed as catchers, but could get at bats elsewhere.

On The Mound: All-Big Ten hurler Chris Fetter returns and assumes the Friday starter’s role. Fetter, a senior, led the Big Ten in ERA (2.47), opponents batting average (.209), innings pitched (94.2), wins (10) and starts (14) last season. He was also second in strikeouts with 82. He’s on everyone’s preseason All-America list this year.

Sophomore Travis Smith (5-1, 4.40), junior Eric Katzman (2-1, 3.52) junior Jeff DeCarlo (2-1, 4.80) and freshman Brandon Sinnery are expected to round out Michigan’s rotation. Fellow freshmen Tyler Mills and Kevin Vangheluwe might also make an impact on the pitching staff.

Dufek (1-0, 5.84, 1 save) and sophomore Tyler Burgoon (2-0, 4.86, 5 saves) are going to be Michigan’s closers.

The Schedule: Michigan’s schedule doesn’t initially dazzle. The highlights of the non-conference portion are a three game set at Arizona and a home-and-home against Notre Dame. There are, of course, games ‘o plenty versus MAC competition dotting the landscape, as well.

In conference play, Michigan opens at Iowa and has road dates at Michigan State (Friday and Sunday), Ohio State and Northwestern. Penn State, Illinois, MSU (the Saturday game), Indiana and Minnesota visit Ann Arbor.

Bottom Line: It’s a transition year in Ann Arbor. The core of the team that won three consecutive Big Ten titles, two conference tournament crowns and a NCAA Regional has departed. The nucleus of Coach Maloney’s side in 2009 is comprised primarily of players who had limited roles in previous campaigns. As such, for the first time in years, Michigan isn’t the prohibitive favorite to capture the Big Ten.

In fact, expectations for this team should be held in check. There are simply too many new faces at too many positions to anticipate another Big Ten title. It’s difficult to imagine Maloney (or any other coach) replacing the conference’s Pitcher and Player of the Year, the entire left side of his infield, his leadoff, three, four, five and six hitters, not to mention his Friday starter and some arms out of the ‘pen and still contend in ‘09. A more realistic expectation, in light of the roster turnover, would be a top six finish and a conference tournament berth.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Schedule Revision: Big East/Big 10 Challenge

There has been a change in the schedule for the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. One field apparently was not going to be playable and, as a result, the locations for many of the games have been altered. Here's the revised list of locations:

Friday, February 20

10 a.m. Connecticut at Michigan St. Jack Russell Stadium

1 p.m. South Florida at Michigan Jack Russell Stadium

Cincinnati at Purdue Naimoli Complex

4 p.m. St. John’s at Penn State Dunedin Stadium

West Virginia at Indiana McKechnie Field

Seton Hall at Minnesota Jack Russell Stadium

7:30 p.m. Notre Dame at Ohio State Dunedin Stadium

Georgetown at Northwestern McKechnie Field

Illinois at Iowa Jack Russell Stadium

Saturday, February 21

10 a.m. Minnesota at West Virginia Jack Russell Stadium

1 p.m. Indiana at Georgetown Red McEwen Field

Iowa at St. John’s Jack Russell Stadium

Penn State at Northwestern Naimoli Complex

4 p.m. Michigan at Cincinnati Bright House Field

Michigan State at Seton Hall McKechnie Field

Ohio State at Connecticut Jack Russell Stadium

7:30 p.m. Purdue at South Florida Bright House Field

Illinois at Notre Dame McKechnie Field

Sunday, February 22

10 a.m. Ohio State at Cincinnati Red McEwen Field

Penn State at Seton Hall Jack Russell Stadium

Minnesota at Michigan State Naimoli Complex

Georgetown at Iowa Naimoli Complex

11 a.m. Northwestern at Connecticut Naimoli Complex

1 p.m. Michigan at St. John’s Red McEwen Field

Notre Dame at Purdue Jack Russell Stadium

Indiana at South Florida Naimoli Complex

West Virginia at Illinois Naimoli Complex

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BA Features Phegley

Indiana's Josh Phegley continues to receive plenty of preseason recognition. Today's comes in the form of an article on the IU catcher by Baseball America.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BTN Announces Schedule

The Big Ten Network has announced their baseball television schedule for 2009. In addition to the games listed below, the network will also broadcast the conference tournament from Columbus.

3/27 Michigan State @ Illinois 7pm
3/28 Michigan State @ Illinois 4pm
4/3 Penn State @ Michigan 4pm
4/10 Illinois @ Michigan 7pm
4/11 Indiana @ Iowa 2:30pm
4/12 Indiana @ Iowa 2:30pm
4/17 Iowa @ Northwestern 4pm
4/18 Ohio State @ Purdue Noon
4/19 Ohio State @ Purdue Noon
4/24 Purdue @ Minnesota 7:30pm
4/25 Michigan State @ Iowa 3:30pm
4/26 Michigan State @ Iowa 2:30pm
5/01 Michigan @ Ohio State 7pm
5/02 Michigan @ Ohio State 1pm
5/03 Michigan @ Ohio State 1pm
5/09 Northwestern @ Indiana 3pm
5/10 Northwestern @ Indiana 1pm
5/15 Minnesota @ Penn State 6:30pm
5/16 Minnesota @ Penn State 2pm

Abbott's Number To Be Retired

Former University of Michigan star Jim Abbott will have his number retired in a ceremony on April 18. A two-time All-America, Abbott was the winner of the Golden Spikes Award in 1987 and is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Abbott's #31 will join the numbers of Bill Freehan, Don Lund, Moby Benedict and Ray Fisher as the only ones retired in Michigan history.

Michigan Captain's Blog

Seniors Kevin Cislo, Chris Fetter and Tim Kalczynski are taking turns posting at the new University of Michigan Captain's Blog. As the name implies, the three are the Wolverines' baseball captains for 2009.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

2009 Preview: Iowa

Iowa Hawkeyes
Head Coach: Jack Dahm
2008 Record: 22-33 (10-22, tenth in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: The strength of the ‘09 Hawkeyes will be the left side of their infield -- SS Justin Toole and 3B Kevin Hoef. Toole started and played in 55 games last season while hitting .395. Along the way, he collected a hit in a school-record 27 straight games. Toole also had a .500 slugging percentage and a .458 on-base percentage while driving in 49 runs and stealing 24 bases. Needless to say, Toole is claiming his fair share of preseason accolades.

Much was expected of Hoef last year coming off an impressive summer in the Cape Cod League. A series of nagging injuries slowed him down in ‘08. Still he managed to hit .357 with three homers and 31 RBI while starting in 50 games. Hoef also totaled 17 steals. Both Hoef and Toole will be strong contenders for first-team all-Big Ten honors this year.

Junior Tyson Blaser will be the Hawkeyes’ catcher. Blaser, who also spent time in the outfield last year due to injuries, hit .323 in 96 at bats last season. A pair of seniors are vying for time at first base. T.J. Cataldo (.270) and Wes Freie (.324 with four homers) will also be in line for starts at designated hitter.

The remainder of the ‘09 Hawkeyes are very young. Sophomore Zach McCool will handle second base. McCool hit .321 in only 46 at bats in his freshman season. The outfield is entirely new. Trevor Willis, a sophomore with just 38 career at bats, is being given the CF job. Rightfield duties should come down to a battle between red shirt freshman Phil Keppler and JUCO transfer Ryan Durant. Freshman Chet Zeise, a high school infielder, looks to be Iowa‘s opening day leftfielder.

On The Mound: The Hawks have a number of returning arms, but in what role will they find themselves? Lefthander Michael Jacobs (3-5, 6.63) returns and could be Coach Dahm’s Friday starter. Senior Steve Turnbull (3-5, 7.30) is also back, but he could be either in the rotation or the bullpen. Sophomores Zach Kenyon (1-3, 7.52 in 40.2 IP) and Tony Manville (1-1, 6.63 in 38 IP) are also looking to become weekend starters. JUCO transfer Zach Robertson might make an impact in the rotation, as well.

Former closer Mike Schurz returns from Tommy John surgery. Word has it that his velocity has returned, but he was struggling to find the strike zone. If questions about Schurz persist, then expect Turnbull to close games.

The Schedule: According to Boyd’s World’s strength of schedule, Iowa has the third most difficult path in the Big Ten. The highlights include three games at nationally ranked Louisville, four against Austin Peay and single games against Nebraska, Stetson, St. John’s and South Alabama. It’s a good slate of non-conference foes.

The Big Ten schedule sees Iowa opening at Michigan and traveling to Indiana, Michigan State and Penn State. The Hawks get to host Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota and Ohio State.

Bottom Line: We know what we are going to get from Toole and Hoef, right? They should be among the better players in the Big Ten. Blaser, if healthy, looks like a pretty solid backstop, too. After those three, however, it’s anybody’s guess.

Certainly the Hawkeyes have some promising underclassmen and the pair of JC transfers could provide some immediate help, but counting on so many inexperienced players at so many spots is rarely the recipe for success. It’s difficult at this point to envision Iowa making into the conference tournament field, as that would take big years from so many new faces, but if even a few of the youngsters can be effective, Iowa can look to improve on last year’s finish.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

2009 Preview: Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini
Head Coach: Dan Hartleb
2008 Record: 30-23 (16-15, 4th in the Big Ten)

At The Plate: The Illini open practice with a number of positional battles underway. While we won’t know exactly who will begin the year at every spot, there are some names we can confidently pencil into the lineup now. The first is Brandon Wikoff at shorstop. Wikoff hit .369 with 79 hits (T-9 in Big Ten) and 61 RBI (T-5) a year ago.

Wikoff has garnered some preseason all-Big Ten selections already. Ok, we can use a pen with Wikoff.

Aaron Johnson (.306, 5 HR, 29 RBI), a junior, returns behind the dish and senior Dominic Altobelli (.329, 4 HR, 38 RBI) will hold down the hot corner. You can use ink with both of them, as well. 2008 Freshmen All-America Casey McMurray will be in the lineup everyday, as well. You’ve got to use a pencil for his position, though. McMurray (.331) will be in either LF or at DH.

Like McMurray, you can write Joe Bonadonna’s name in pen, too. Just keep the pencil handy, as he will be playing either at 2B or CF. Bonadonna who, like Wikoff, started and played in 56 games last year, hit .356, stole 25 bases (4th in the Big Ten) and drove in 34 runs in ’08. Veteran Craig Lutes (.245) also looks to be in line for a starting role. He will hold down either CF or RF.

The position battles are at first base (Mike Giller and Matt Dittman), second base (where Josh Parr, a freshman, and Pete Cappetta are trying to push Bonadonna to the OF) and in the outfield (where freshman Willie Argo, a draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, and Nick Stockwell could end up seeing playing time).

On The Mound: Things are clearer in the Illinois’ rotation, although it begins with a surprise. Freshman Bryan Roberts appears to be the Illini’s Friday starter. A strong fall performance has the Coach Hartleb leaning towards making the first year player his number one starter. Returnees Kevin Manson (8-2, 5.42), Aaron Martin (4-7, 7.09) and Phil Haig (2-3, 6.19) will follow Roberts in the rotation.

The closer role is being given to sophomore Nick Chmielwski (3-2, 7.39 in 31.2 IP).

The Schedule: When reviewing Illinois’ schedule, one series jumps right off the page. Coach Hartleb’s side is heading down to Baton Rouge for a three game set against Louisiana State. The Tigers are in nearly everyone’s top five and some have LSU ranked as the top team in the land heading into Opening Day. That should be an interesting weekend for the Illini.

The remainder of their non-conference slate, both before and during the Big 10 season, is fairly standard fare. There are trips to Edinburg, Texas and Winter Haven, Florida dotting the pre-conference schedule and all the DI in-state programs (Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois, ISU, etc…) for midweek opposition during the Big Ten campaign.

The conference schedule has Michigan State opening the year in Champaign-Urbana, followed by visits from Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio State. The blue and orange will travel to Michigan, Penn State, Northwestern and Purdue.

Bottom Line: Illinois will go as far as their pitching lets them. This team, like many of the recent Illini squads, should swing the bats well enough, steal a few bases and play tough day-in and day-out. The question will be how their arms, especially the unproven ones, hold up.

The thought here is that the Illini should secure another top six Big Ten finish and a trip to Huntington Park and the conference tournament

2009 Preview: Indiana

Indiana Hoosiers
Head Coach: Tracy Smith
2008 Record: 28-28 (15-17, sixth in Big Ten)

At The Plate: The Hoosiers may have the most potent offense in the Big Ten. IU’s bats are led by C Josh Phegley. Last year, Phegley paced the conference in batting average (.438), hits (98), on base percentage (.507), runs batted in (80), total bases (167) and sacrifice flies (9). He was also second in runs scored and slugging percentage.

The junior backstop enters ‘09 as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Player of the Year award and first-team All-America selection. As good as Phegley is, he’s not a one-man wrecking crew.

In his freshman campaign, 1B Jerrud Sabourin walked right into the middle of IU’s lineup and didn’t disappoint. Sabourin hit .383 and finished in the top ten in batting average, hits, runs batted in and total bases. Sabourin’s fine first year garnered him some freshman All-America attention and he should contend for all-conference honors in '09.

3B Ethan Wilson hit .292 in only 106 at bats last year. 2B Tyler Rogers hit .316. The outfield features Kipp Schutz (.317 and 5th in the conference in doubles with 16), Evan Crawford (.335 with 18 steals; spent his summer in the Cape Cod League) and Chris Hervey (.373 with a .463 OBP, 18 steals and 20 HBP that led the Big 10).

The new additions are JUCO transfer Jake Dunning at shortstop and freshman DH Alex Dickerson.

On The Mound: While the Hoosiers’ bats are deserving of all the praise thrown their way, IU’s rotation could be very good as well. The group is led by junior LHP Matt Bashore. Bashore, like Crawford, spent his summer in the Cape Cod League after going 7-3 and leading the Big Ten in strikeouts (86). Like Phegley, Bashore was a first team All-Big Ten selection in 2008.

Eric Arnett will hold down one of the weekend spots, as well. Arnett went 4-5 last season with a 5.45 ERA. The final weekend slot will belong to freshman sensation Blake Monar. The lefty was drafted by the New York Yankees last year, but opted to pitch college ball.

The closer spot remains a bit up-in-the-air. Junior Chris Squires is in the mix, so, too, is Dunning. Finding a reliable finisher will be a priority for Coach Smith.

The Schedule: The 2009 slate could be a barrier for IU. There are some good opponents, but not enough opportunities against the kind of programs that will elevate their RPI (or impress the tournament committee). In the non-conference portion of their ’09 schedule, IU will see the likes of East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Kentucky and a home-and-home (albeit the games are weeks apart) against nationally ranked Louisville. Like much of the Big Ten, Indiana’s midweek opposition will feature a number of MAC programs.

In conference, the Hoosiers will have to travel to Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue. Visiting Bloomington are Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern and Michigan State.

Bottom Line: Like everyone else, IU has some concerns. The Hoosiers need to shore up an erratic defense. Indiana needs to find a reliable closer. There’s a schedule that isn’t going to impress the NCAA tournament committee. Finally, this team has precious little experience in playing (and winning) big games. In spite of this, expectations in Bloomington are high and they should be.

Featuring an array of quality hitters and a potentially solid weekend rotation, IU looks poised to contend for the Big Ten’s regular season and conference tournament titles and a NCAA Tournament spot. The job for Coach Smith is to turn all his squad's potential into production.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Boyd's World SOS 2009

Boyd Nation has released his 2009 Strength of Schedule numbers. Here's how the Big Ten breaks down.

85) Minnesota
108) Northwestern
123) Iowa
124) Penn State
130) Michigan State
146) Ohio State
150) Illinois
152) Michigan
168) Indiana
188) Purdue

My one word summary: Yikes. I realize SOS is a fluid situation, as teams thought to be strong in the preseason falter and programs written off are better than anticipated. Nonetheless, to have the best SOS figure in the conference to be at eighty-fifth in the nation isn't good.

If these figures stay even remotely close to their current levels as the season progresses, the Big Ten is going to have a difficult time landing an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

February House Cleaning

I've got some odds and ends that might merit individual posts, but I'm cramming them altogether. Perhaps, they can use each other for warmth. Hopefully, you'll find something interesting amongst the group.

The Previews
Yes, the BTH team previews are coming. I'm writing a few and waiting for some more details on a few others, but they are in-process. You could see the first one as early as tonight, but don't wait up for it. I could easily get busy doing something else.

The Sincerest Form
It appears that one of my college baseball blogging allies is trying to start up a new blog. The focus is the Big XII Conference. The name of the blog has a certain ring to it.

If you follow the Big XII, the new site is looking for writers. Drop them a email, if you are interested.

CBB Interviews Hoosiers' Smith
Tracy Smith, head baseball coach at Indiana, recently did an interview with Brian Foley of the College Baseball Blog. I encourage you to read Brian's Q&A with Coach Smith.

More Coverage
I've spent a good deal of time this winter deleting dead links to former sources of college baseball information. Honestly, I've been quietly lamenting their demise. However, a bit of good news has emerged.

I was thumbing through The Sporting News baseball annual at my local mega-chain bookseller. Inside was not only a look at college baseball's top twenty-five teams (it could have been twenty or thirty, don't hold me to the number), but a look at All-America Teams. In addition, Lindy's MLB annual had a Top College Prospects section.

In the TSN magazine both Michigan's Chris Fetter and Indiana's Josh Phegley were named All-Americans. Lindy's had Phegley listed amongst their top twenty college prospects.

While it's not in-depth coverage, it's more coverage than college baseball received even ten years ago. Hopefully, the inclusion of Big Ten players will spur a few more fans in the north to watch their school's baseball program.

Big East/Big Ten Challenge
I'm sure by now most of you have stumbled upon the website for the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Having it's own website gives the event some sense of credibility. It also indicates a willingness to market the series.

Also adding credibility, in listening to Baseball America's podcast, I learned that BA's Aaron Fitt will be covering the Challenge. That's the kind of coverage neither conference would have received without this event. Again, more ink is good for all the programs. Now, if the Big Ten would just win the series.

OSU's Todd Talks '09 Buckeyes
Ohio State head coach, and ABCA Hall of Famer, Bob Todd talks about his team and the upcoming campaign. (Audio link.)