Sunday, May 31, 2009

LSU Takes Control

It's not quite as bad as in Tallahassee, but Louisiana State has taken a commanding 7 - 0 lead over Minnesota in the third inning. Our season may be just about over, Big Ten fans.

9:49pm Update - LSU cruises to a 10-3 triumph over Minnesota and wins the Baton Rouge Regional. The Gophers season ends with the loss.

Gophers Outslug Baylor

Minnesota posted thirteen runs over the last three innings to beat Baylor, 15-12. The Gophers held a 15-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth only to see the Bears plate seven runs, but fall short. Baylor's season has concluded, Minnesota moves into the championship round against LSU.

I'm afraid, though. After seeing a burned out Ohio State staff take on a well-rested, top seed at home, I'm fearful for the Gophers against the Tigers. Let's hope somebody tosses a whale of a game for the U.

Update - You know I should mention that Derek McCallum 4-for-6 with four runs scored and seven RBI in this game. McCallum, displaying why he should have been the Big Ten's Player of the Year, doubled three times and homered.

It's All 'Noles

Ohio State has yet to take their third at bat, but they trail Florida State by a score of 20 - 0. The Buckeyes have gone through four pitchers thus far. Ugly.

Update 6:49pm - It's now 32 - 2, Florida State. Yes. 32. I don't even know what to say.

Update 8:04pm - Mercifully, it's over in Tallahassee. The final is 37-6, FSU. Florida State goes onto the Super Regionals. OSU's campaign comes to a close.

Buckeyes Bounce Bulldogs

Ohio State beat Georgia, 13-6, and advanced to the championship of the Tallahassee Regional. Michael Stephens had three hits, three runs scored and four RBI for OSU. Ryan Dew went 4-for-5 (and I'm thinking secured a spot on the all-regional team). Zach Cone had four hits and four RBI for UGA.

The Buckeyes will take on #1 seed Florida State later today. A loss versus FSU will end the Buckeyes year. A win will force a deciding game tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rematch Sunday

Ohio State and Minnesota can avenge their Friday performances on Sunday. The Buckeyes, who were humbled by Georgia, 24-8, on Friday, will get their second look at the Bulldogs tomorrow. The loser of OSU/UGA II will be eliminated. The winner gets to take on Florida State for the regional title. If either OSU or UGA hope to win the crown, they will need to take two straight from FSU in Tallahassee.

In Baton Rouge, Minnesota gets a second chance at Baylor tomorrow. The Bears beat the Gophers, 5-0, on Friday. The loser of tomorrow's Gophers/Bears rematch is out of the tournament and the winner takes on the host, and top seed, LSU. Minnesota or Baylor will have to win two consecutive games from the Tigers in order to advance to the Super Regionals.

Sunday's schedule looks like this:

Minnesota vs. Baylor 2pm
Winner of MIN/BAY vs. LSU 7pm

Georgia vs. Ohio State Noon
Winner of UGA/OSU vs. Florida State 4pm

At Home In Florida?

Here's an example of why I get cranky about scheduling. This bit of information comes straight from the Ohio State press release after today's game against Marist.

Kind of hard to believe but this was Ohio State ’s 23rd game in the state of Florida this season. The team played a total of 21 games in Bill Davis Stadium this year.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Ohio State University has played more games in the Sunshine State than in their own home stadium.

Indiana's Season Comes To An End

Vanderbilt ended Indiana's season with a resounding 10-0 triumph at the Louisville Regional. Vandy's Steve Liddle had three hits and three RBI. Sonny Gray went eight innings holding IU to just seven hits and a walk while striking out ten. Kipp Schutz's three-hit game led the way for IU. The Commodores will face the loser of the Louisville and Middle Tennessee State affair tomorrow.

Minnesota Survives

Minnesota avoided elimination by sneaking past Southern, 11-8, in the Baton Rouge Regional. Gophers' LF Justin Gominsky went a perfect 4-for-4 with a pair of RBI, while Matt Nohelty and AJ Pettersen each had three hits and two RBI. The U awaits the loser of tonight's battle between homestanding Louisiana State and Baylor.

Buckeyes Stay Alive

Ohio State beat Marist, 6-4, to stay alive in NCAA regional play. The Buckeyes will now get the loser of today's late game between Florida State and Georgia. Marist has been eliminated from the post-season.

Ryan Dew had three RBI for OSU. Drew Rucinski picked up the win, Jake Hale the save.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not A Good Start

The Big Ten went 0-3 in today's opening day of NCAA regional play. Georgia destroyed Ohio State, 24-8. Baylor shutout Minnesota, 5-0. Finally, Louisville downed Indiana, 8-2. It's the loser's bracket and elimination games for all on Saturday.

I think it safe to say that overall it was an awful performance for the conference on Friday. As such, I don't find a compelling reason to review the stats. That will just compound the misery.

Let's do what the players need to do -- put today behind us and focus on Saturday. Minnesota will play Southern. Indiana gets Vanderbilt. Ohio State is awaiting the loser of the Florida State vs. Marist contest. Although, it should be noted that FSU is leading in the seventh. Regardless of who the Buckeyes draw, we know they'll be in the early game.

CBB Regional Previews, Webcast Links

The College Baseball Blog has finished up their regional previews. I'll just provide direct links to the regionals featuring Big Ten programs. Here's the Louisville Regional preview and the Tallahassee Regional preview.

Brian Foley at CBB has also tracked down the links to free webcasts of various regionals. Both of tonight's games involving Big Ten schools, Minnesota vs. Baylor and Indiana vs. Louisville, are available.

Tallahassee Update

Georgia has gone deep four times and leads Ohio State, 10-2. It's the fifth inning in Tallahassee. UGA catcher Joey Lewis has homered twice and has four RBI. Ryan Dew has both RBI for the Buckeyes. There's still time for a comeback, but spotting the 'Dawgs eight runs doesn't look good for OSU.

Update 2:37 pm: It's raining on Georgia's parade in FLA. We are still in the fifth inning. Here's hoping the rain cools off those Bulldogs' bats.

Update 4:40 pm: There's a lightning warning out for the Tallahassee area. The game will not resume until sometime after 5:00pm.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NCAA Regional Links

I'm guessing at least 30% of my readership is ready for some more baseball. As such, I'm here to provide links to all the places of relevance I've been able to track down.

Florida State is offering up a preview of the Tallahassee Regional. It's complete with plenty of additional links and some video.

Florida State's official site.
Georgia's official site.
Ohio State's official site.
Marist College's official site.

The Buckeye Nine (An OSU baseball blog)
Section B (Florida State's baseball fans)

Louisville's official site. (It's actually their regional site. Seems the other one isn't working.)
Vanderbilt's official site.
Middle Tennessee State's official site.
Indiana's official site.

Behind The Plate (An Indiana baseball blog)
The Inside Pitch (IU student newspaper blog covering Hoosiers baseball)

Louisiana State's official site.
Minnesota's official site.
Baylor's official site.
Southern's official site.

Kendall Rogers previews the Baton Rouge Regional.
The College Baseball Blog's Baton Rouge preview.
The Daily Gopher (SB Nation blog covering all things Minnesota)
Baylor Baseball
Line Drives (LSU baseball blog from The Advocate)

The Big Ten issued their official press release prior to the tournament. It's a .pdf file.

A somewhat interactive (and kind of cool) tournament bracket courtesy of the NCAA.

College Baseball 360's tournament page.

Baseball America's staff will be hard at work this weekend. I'm guessing Aaron Fitt's blog will feature the breaking news.

The boys at BA have also produced their Top 100 MLB prospects heading into the draft. Check out the future pros in your regional.

And, of course, you know that Eric Sorenson's going to be all over the tournament. (By the way, thanks for including me on the selection committee, E.)

Louisville Slugger All-Americans

Collegiate Baseball and Louisville Slugger have announced their 2009 All-America Teams. Big Ten names make their appearance beginning on the second team. Co-Big Ten Pitchers of the Year, Indiana's Eric Arnett and Ohio State's Alex Wimmers, garnered second team nods. Buckeyes' closer Jake Hale is on the third team.

I find the lack of Big 10ers disappointing. (No love for Derek McCallum, Josh Phegley or Dan Burkhart?) However, All-America teams are a bit like beauty contests and it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Award Talk

The Indiana duo of Eric Arnett and Josh Phegley along with Ohio State's Alex Wimmers have all been named as semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award.

In addition, IU's Arnett is one of five finalists for the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year honor.

Arnett and teammate Matt Bashore were both selected to this week's National All-Star Lineup by the College Baseball Foundation.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Indiana Wins Championship; Goes To NCAA Tourney

Indiana University has captured the Big Ten Tournament title and claims the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament field. And, no, I'm not talking hoops. The Hoosiers' baseball team crushed Minnesota in the Big Ten title game, 13-2. Those IU bats that so many lauded before the season powered the Hoosiers to the crown.

IU must now wait for the tournament field of 64 to be announced to see where they are going to play next weekend. Minnesota and Ohio State (who the Gophers eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament earlier today) will also wait to see if they have done well enough for the selection committee to give them at-large berths to The Dance. (One would hope their RPI number alone would merit them inclusion amongst the sixty-four.)

Tonight, however, belongs to Indiana. Congratulations to the Hoosiers on their Big Ten Tournament title.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Indiana Advances To Title Game

Indiana thumped Ohio State, 13-3, and advanced to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. IU's Tyler Rogers had three hits and four RBI. Alex Dickerson, Kipp Schutz and Jake Dunning each had two RBI for the Hoosiers.

The loss sends Ohio State into the loser's bracket and a date with Minnesota Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm. The winner of the Gophers vs. Buckeyes game will face the Hoosiers in the championship game tomorrow evening.

Some randoms thoughts before calling it a night:

My guess is that any hope Illinois has for a NCAA Tournament berth will disappear if the Hoosiers win the conference tournament. If IU secures the automatic berth and OSU and Minnesota garner at-large nods for their strong RPI figures, I can't imagine any scenario where the selection committee would take four Big Ten squads.

As the Illini are not a lock for an at-large berth, is it better for the conference overall if Indiana does win out? The Buckeyes and Gophers would appear to have at-large berths secure. (Or, at least, as secure as a Big Ten side can be.) If the Hoosiers claim the conference tournament title, wouldn't that mean three Big Ten teams would be amongst the 64 teams still playing next weekend? If Minnesota or OSU win the post-season crown, that would only put two Big Ten teams in the NCAA tourney. I'm just sayin'........

Can you hear all the national media (Aaron Fitt comes to mind) and me, wondering aloud where IU might be if they had played this well all season long? The answer, by the way, is that IU would have an at-large berth in the bag by now.

We've reached the point where the battle of attrition begins. Do any of these teams have enough arms ready to play into Sunday? OSU and Minnesota will need to, if they hope to win. And IU has already used their weekend starters heading into the championship game. Big leads may not mean much in the next couple of games.

Anyone else think Huntington Park looks great? Lots of quirkiness and interesting features. All the reports from Columbus concur with what I've seen on television -- it's a great venue.

Minnesota Pounds Illinois, 13-4

Minnesota eliminated Illinois from the Big Ten Tournament, 13-4. The Gophers' Nick O'Shea homered twice and had five RBI. Michael Kvasnicka hit a homer for the second straight game and also had a five-RBI afternoon for Minnesota.

Now, the question becomes "Is that the last game of the year for Illinois"? We won't know for sure until the NCAA Tournament field is announced, but they would appear to be barely holding onto their bubble position. Here's hoping the top seeds prevail in all the other conference tournaments.

One game left tonight and it's from the winner's bracket. Indiana will attempt to continue their dominant pitching run against regular season champion Ohio State. The loser gets to play Minnesota tomorrow afternoon in an elimination game. (Anyone want to guess who the Gophers send to the hill for that one?) The winner of tonight's affair between the Hoosiers and Buckeyes advance to the potential championship game Saturday evening.

Gophers Survive, Eliminate Boilers

Minnesota eliminated Purdue from the Big Ten Tournament, 12-3. Only four teams remain, the top four seeds heading into the tournament -- Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois.

Gophers' starter Tom Buske tossed his first complete game.

The Gophers will now play in today's second game against Illinois. Not only is it an elimination game for both teams, but one does wonder if it's a potential do-or-die situation for the Illini in regards to their at-large NCAA Tournament hopes?

According the this morning pseudo-RPI at Boyd's World, Illinois is sitting at number 63. A win over Minnesota (who is 25 in pseudo-RPI) would certainly help the Illini. Staying alive in the conference tournament also gives them the opportunity to add wins and RPI points. Conversely, a loss this afternoon might bounce Illinois from both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Buckeyes Down Illinois, 7-4

Game Five of the Big Ten Tournament saw Ohio State beat Illinois, 7-4. Things looked good for Illinois early as Will Strack was pitching well and Aaron Johnson's homer gave the Illini the lead. Eventually, Illinois even chased OSU's Alex Wimmers from the mound, but the Buckeyes posted a come-from-behind win.

Michael Arp drove in two for Ohio State. Johnson had three hits and three RBI for Illinois. Drew Rucinski got the win. Jake Hale picked up the save.

OSU advances in the winner's bracket. They will get a good look at the redhot Indiana Hoosiers tomorrow evening. Friday's slate begins with Purdue versus Minnesota in an elimination game. The winner of that game gets Illinois in yet another elimination game.

Tomorrow's schedule:

12:05pm - Purdue vs. Minnesota
3:35pm - Winner of PUR/MIN vs. Illinois
7:05pm - Indiana vs. Ohio State

All games on the Big Ten Network.

(Update 11:25pm) I've been informed that Minnesota will be the Boilermakers opponent in Friday's first game and Illinois will play the winner. I had the Illini in the opener against Purdue and the Gophers awaiting the winner. I've made the appropriate change.

Purdue Sends Spartans Packing; IU Dominates

In Game Three of the Big Ten Tournament, Purdue eliminated Michigan State, 12-9. Game Four saw Indiana pound Minnesota, 12-3. The Boilermakers will now face the Gophers in an elimination game on Friday. It will be a 12:05pm start.

In Purdue's win, Big Ten regular season batting leader Brandon Haveman had a four-hit, three-RBI game. MSU's Eli Boike had three hits (including a homer) and three RBI.

The Matt Bashore most of us expected to see all season showed up for Indiana in Game Four. The lefthander was dominant. Bashore worked seven shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out nine Gophers. The Hoosiers Alex Dickerson had three RBI, Brian Lambert, Tyler Rogers and Jake Dunning all had three hits.

We now wait for the Illinois and Ohio State game to complete today's schedule.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All-Conference Questions

Over the years, I've been asked for my opinion about the selections for the All-Big Ten teams. Invariably, someone feels a player (or players) from their program has been overlooked and is seeking my two cents. These questions usually come from fans or parents. This year, I'm the one with the inquiries.

The longer I read yesterday's press release, the more my head began to tilt like a dog's. You know the look. Where the pooch gives you that strange, almost confused expression while leaning his/her head off to a side.

Nearly a day after the press release was issued, I'm still kind of lost as to the thinking behind some of the selections. Let me start by hitting the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective).

  • How is Minnesota's Derek McCallum not the Big Ten's Player of the Year?
  • I know Ohio State is very well represented on the teams, but I'm not quite sure I can justify the absence of Drew Rucinski, Matt Streng and most notably, Zach Hurley.
  • Just how important is batting average to the coaches? In some ways, it appears to me that the coaches simply honored players based solely on their batting average.
  • Isn't it time to release the vote totals?
  • How can Chauncy Handran, of Minnesota, get left off?
  • And what of Michigan State's weekend starters -- Nolan Moody, A.J. Achter and Tony Bucciferro?
  • I think it's cool the coaches opted for twin first-team catchers, as the numbers between Indiana's Josh Phegley and Ohio State's Dan Burkhart were nearly identical. However, instead of leaving Illinois' Aaron Johnson on the third team how about bumping him up to second team and lauding a player like MSU's Eric Roof or Minnesota's Kyle Knudson?
Like I said, I've got questions. And don't fool yourself. My questions don't stop there. I'll come clean and tell you that I feel the coaches didn't exactly get an "A" in the selection of the outfielders. On any team. (Oh, they may have some of the right names, but not in the right places.)

Now, there's a great possibility I'm alone on this island. Perhaps, I'm the only one that thinks this year's voting was a bit more suspect than usual. We all know that I'm wrong as often as I am right. Yet, I am curious if any of you found this year's all-conference selections interesting. Feel free to leave your comments (not that I generally have to encourage any of you to do that).

Arnett Shines In IU Triumph

Indiana humbled Purdue in Game Two of the Big Ten Tournament, 9-1. Co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, Eric Arnett held the Boilermakers to just four hits and a walk over seven shutout innings. The IU righty fanned ten. Michael Earley and Brian Lambert each drove in two runs for the Hoosiers. Kipp Schutz had a three-hit game. Dan Black led Purdue's counter-attack with a pair of hits.

The Boilermakers will now face Michigan State in an elimination game tomorrow. Indiana will take on Minnesota and Illinois will play Ohio State. The Hoosiers/Gophers contest will be the middle game (3:35pm) and the Illini/Buckeyes will begin around 7pm. All games are on the Big Ten Network.

Illini Roll Over MSU

Game One of the 2009 Big Ten Tournament is in the books. Illinois spotted Michigan State a four-run lead, but came back to crush the Spartans, 16-5. Illinois' Josh Parr and Pete Cappetta both had four-hit performances. Phil Haig went seven innings giving up four runs on four hits. MSU's Eric Roof cranked a grandslam in the loss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Ten Announces Awards

The Big Ten Conference announced their award winners today. Ohio State's Dan Burkhart captured the Player of the Year Award. Indiana's Eric Arnett and Ohio State's Alex Wimmers were co-Pitchers of the Year. Alex Dickerson, of Indiana, was named as the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year. Ohio State's Bob Todd was tabbed as Coach of the Year.

In addition, the Big Ten released their three all-conference teams and, for the first time, selected an all-freshman side.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buckeye Nine Tourney Central

The Buckeye Nine clearly has tournament fever. Your friend and mine, Chris Webb of B9, has created a special Tournament Central Blog. Go check out all of Chris' work.

Monday Night Chat

The College Baseball Blog's weekend recap chat will be going on from 9-11pm EST. In addition to your host and moderator, Brian Foley, his staff and a few invited guests will field your questions about the weekend that was and the conference tournaments on the horizon.

I've been invited to participate and you can usually count on the always-informative Chris Webb of Buckeye Nine to be there, too. (Don't let his affiliation fool you, Chris knows far more about baseball around the midwest than just scarlet and gray.)

While this discussion will focus on the entire college baseball from coast-to-coast, you are encouraged to participate. Brian usually starts taking a questions a five or ten minutes before the chat goes live.

NU's Avila Is Ashe Award Finalist

It's award season. It seems like everyday I'm either providing a link to an award watch list or voting for various post-season honors. However, one Big Ten baseball player has been nominated for a rather special honor that I overlooked.

Northwestern's Kenneth Avila is one of ten male finalists for the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar Award. I'll let the press release explain the award:

Established in 1992 by the publication Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, the Sports Scholars Awards honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.

On-the-field, Avila paced the Wildcats in batting average this season while playing a super-utility role. In-the-classroom, Avila is a double major in economic and legal studies. Avila also had to meet the award's minimum requirements for things such as community service and GPA.

Last season, Avila was one of the ten college baseball players selected for the honor. This year, the Northwestern junior is the lone college baseball representative still eligible to claim the top award. Amongst those Avila will be competing against are Ohio State football star Brian Robiskie and Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Sam Bradford.

I think I can go out on a limb here and speak for the entire Big Ten baseball community and congratulate Kenneth on this honor. Obviously, I'm pulling for him to bring home the top prize. (Hey, we all better be nice to him. The young man could be President someday.)

Did I Miss A Press Release?

I've seen this before at a number of online retailers, including the Big Ten's official store. Not surprisingly, I find it more disappointing than amusing. Of course, that's just me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The All-Weekend Team

This is it. The final All-Weekend Team of 2009. It's hard to believe the regular season is already over. Yet, it is and we must press on. Grab a tissue and review this final installment of the AWT.

C: Bobby Jacobs, Penn State - Only seven AB's for the Nittany Lions' catcher, but he had four hits including two doubles. Jacobs also scored a run and drove in five.

C: Dan Burkhart, Ohio State - A .400 average with a double, two walks, two RBI and three runs scored in the sweep over Iowa.

1B: Paul Snieder, Northwestern - The freshman hit .333 (4-for-12) against Michigan. Snieder hit a pair of homers, including a game-winner. He also scored three runs and had four RBI.

1B: Mike Dufek, Michigan - Cranked out three homers over the weekend. Dufek had four hits in thirteen at-bats (.307) with two walks, four runs scored and five RBI vs. Northwestern.

2B: Derek McCallum, Minnesota - Seriously, did you think it was going to be anyone else? All McCallum managed was four hits in eleven at-bats (.363), a double, a sacrifice fly, two walks, two runs scored and six RBI.

SS: Jake Dunning, Indiana - He did things in fours. Four hits (in nine at-bats, .444), four runs scored and four RBI. He aslo homered, doubled, walked twice and stole a pair of bases.

3B: Justin Miller, Ohio State - The Buckeyes' captain hit .583 (7-for-12) with a walk, homer and pair of doubles. Miller scored four runs and drove in six runs as OSU swept Iowa for the Big Ten title.

OF: Willie Argo, Illinois - The freshman hit .555 (five-for-nine) versus Purdue. Argo walked, stole a base, got hit-by-a-pitch, hit a sac fly and a pair of doubles. He also scored three runs and had five RBI.

OF: Brandon Haveman, Purdue - The senior had eight hits in sixteen at-bats (.500). Haveman tripled, doubled twice, stole two bases, scored five runs and had a RBI.

OF: Kenny Fellows, Michigan - Six hits in fourteen AB's (.429) for the Michigan senior. Fellows also collected a walk, two steals, three doubles, four runs and five RBI.

OF: Alex Jaffee, Purdue - Hit .545 (six-for-eleven) against Illinois. Jaffee had a double, steal, two walks, two homers, three runs scored and five RBI.

BN: Ryan Dew, Ohio State - Five hits in thirteen at-bats (.385) vs. Iowa. Dew stole a base, had three doubles, three runs scored and drove in two.

BN: Zach Hurley, Ohio State - You sweep, you tend to get lots of players on the AWT. Hurley did more than his share of creating havoc. Six hits in eleven AB's, two runs, two RBI, a stolen base, three doubles and four walks.

BN: Ryan LaMarre, Michigan - The Michigan sophomore drove in five runs and scored three more. LaMarre got hit-by-a-pitch, homered and hit a sacrifice fly. He collected five hits in fourteen at-bats (.357).

SP: Matt Bashore, Indiana - Eight innings of shutout baseball. The IU lefty allowed only three hits and one walk. Bashore fanned 10.

SP: Alex Wimmers, Ohio State - Six shutout innings for the OSU star. Wimmers surrendered five hits and two walks, but struck out 12 Hawkeyes.

SP: Dean Wolosiansky, Ohio State - "Wolo" gave up three runs on six hits and a walk over seven innings. Wolosiansky K'd five. He also won his 11 game of the year.

SP: Seth Rosin, Minnesota - Won his sixth game by going seven innings and yielding two runs on four hits. Rosin fanned seven.

BP: Tony Bucciferro, Michigan State - The MSU frosh went 7.1 innings giving up three runs on six hits. Bucciferro didn't surrender a walk and struck out nine Hoosiers. He posted fifth win of the season.

You know the caveats about my math and where to lodge your protests, objections and praise. I thank all of you for following the All-Weekend Team with such enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Buckeyes Are Champs; Purdue Makes Tourney

(29) Ohio State's 8-6 victory over Iowa combined with Minnesota's 10-8 loss to Penn State gives the Buckeyes the Big Ten's regular season crown and the number one seed in the conference tournament. Minnesota finishes second.

Indiana fell to Michigan State this afternoon, 7-3, and comes in third place. Illinois is fourth. Purdue dropped the Illini this afternoon, 12-8. The win gives the Boilermakers the sixth seed and Michigan State remains in fifth place.

Northwestern bounced Michigan twice today. NU captured the opener, 10-6. The Wildcats took the second game, 6-5.

Here's the final standings:
1. Ohio State 18-6
2. Minnesota 17-6
3. Indiana 16-7
4. Illinois 16-8
5. Michigan State 13-11
6. Purdue 11-12
7. Michigan 9-15
8. Penn State 8-16
9. Northwestern 5-17
10. Iowa 4-19

Here's how the first two days of the conference tournament look.

Game 1: (4) Illinois vs. (5) Michigan State
Game 2: (3) Indiana vs. (6) Purdue

Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
Game 4: Highest seeded Game 1/2 Winner vs. Minnesota
Game 5: Lowest seeded Game 1/2 Winners vs. Ohio State

Friday, May 15, 2009

Illini, Hoosiers Strike First

Both Illinois and Indiana posted wins this afternoon and kept the pressure on Minnesota. Illinois beat Purdue, 6-3. Freshman Willie Argo's three hits and four RBI led Illinois.

Indiana kept pace by dropping Michigan State, 6-1. The star in Bloomington is Matt Bashore. The IU lefty tossed eight shutout innings allowing just three hits and one walk. Bashore also struck out 10 Spartans.

The game between Michigan and Northwestern has been postponed. That means a doubleheader for the two teams tomorrow. The twinbill in Evanston starts at 11 am. (That's CST. It's noon for those of us on Eastern Standard Time.)

Iowa and Ohio State begin at 6:35 as does the game between Minnesota and Penn State. The Gophers visit to Happy Valley will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

I'll be back with another update later.

Update (8:55pm EST)

Minnesota holds off Penn State, 4-2. I believe this win does more than just keep the Gophers half-game lead alive. Combined with Illinois' loss yesterday, this Minnesota victory eliminates the Illini from the regular season title chase. By my math, Minnesota will finish with no worse than a .739 winning percentage. Illinois can do no better than .708.

The win also means Indiana can do no better than tie for the conference crown. If the Hoosiers sweep MSU tomorrow, OSU loses and Penn State beats Minnesota, both IU and Minnesota will finish with .739 winning percentages. I would presume that the first tie-breaker is head-to-head play which, unfortunately, also ended in a tie. IU and Minnesota each won a game and the third game was canceled due to weather.

Okay, Big Ten fans, what's the second tie-breaker? If we end up tied, someone's going to be the #1 seed in Columbus.

Speaking of C-bus, Ohio State's in a nail-biter with Iowa, 5-4, in the eighth.

Again, a bit more later when the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes have concluded.

Update (9:20pm EST)

Well, that didn't take too long. The Hawks gave Jake Hale and the Bucks a ninth inning scare, but OSU hangs on to a 5-4 triumph. Let's jump to the standings.

1. Minnesota 17-5
2. Ohio State 17-6
3. Indiana 16-6
4. Illinois 16-7
5. Michigan State 12-11
6. Purdue 10-12
7. Michigan 9-13
8. Penn State 7-16
9. Iowa 4-18
10. Northwestern 3-17

Here are some other things to keep in mind. Michigan State, in spite of falling in Bloomington today, locked up the fifth seed with Purdue's loss to Illinois. The Boilermakers' loss has also left the door open for Michigan to claim the sixth spot.

A Purdue win Saturday, or a Michigan loss, still bounces the Wolverines. However, should Illinois down the Boilers and Michigan takes both games from Northwestern, the Wolverines would sneak into the conference tournament field ahead of Purdue.

The forecast is dicey for both Columbus (70% chance of rain) and State College (70% chance of rain). Thunderstorms are predicted in both locales. Evanston, Bloomington and West Lafayette still run the risk of precipitation through about midday. It should start clearing out by afternoon. (And head straight for C-bus and Happy Valley.)

I wonder if the rain interferes, if the schools (or the conference) will opt for a long-delay in hopes of starting late or if they will cancel and just hold out for a Sunday finale?

The schedule calls for all day games across the board on Saturday.

Enjoy the remainder of your Friday evening.

Update (11:00pm EST)

Yes, I know. I called it a night a while back. Well, I received the answer to my earlier question and decided to run with it now. I was dropped a note that states who wins the tiebreakers between Minnesota and Indiana. (This, of course, presumes Ohio State doesn't step in and win, which no one should presume.) If IU and Minnesota finish in a tie for first and Michigan grabs sixth place, IU takes the tiebreaker.

If those two tie for the top spot and Purdue is the sixth seed, the Gophers win the tiebreaker. Minnesota would also win a tiebreaker with IU for the top seed, if the Boilers and Wolverines were to tie for sixth. (Which can't happen, can it?)

So, not only does the battle for the first place come down to the three teams on top of the standings, but it could come down to the battle for sixth place as well. That seems oddly appropriate. Really what we need with just one day and six games left in the regular season is a few more potential post-season scenarios to keep an eye on.

I'm fairly confident that this will be the final update of the evening. Unless, I get something noteworthy in my email before I turn off the PC.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Down The Stretch They Come

Purdue handed Illinois a setback in their chase for the conference title with a 12-5 win at West Lafayette. The Boilermakers victory also brings them a step closer to securing the sixth and final spot in next week's Big Ten Tournament. Purdue is now 10-11 in conference. Illinois falls to 15-7. Dan Black's three-hit, five-RBI performance led the Boilers attack.

At Bloomington, Jerrud Sabourin hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift Indiana to a 6-4 triumph over Michigan State. The Hoosiers are now 15-6 in the Big Ten. MSU is 12-10.

Michigan tried to keep the heat on Purdue by downing Northwestern, 16-6. The Wolverines are now 9-13, the Wildcats fall to 3-17. UM's Mike Dufek hit a pair of homers and drove in four.

(29) Ohio State has jumped all over Iowa early. It's 13-0, Buckeyes in the fourth inning.

In Happy Valley, Minnesota has increased their lead over Penn State to 5-0. It's also the fourth inning at State College. By my math, the Nittany Lions' hopes for the Big Ten Tournament ended with Purdue's win.

More later .....

Update (9:15pmEST)

The Gophers score a run in the top of the ninth to slip past PSU, 7-6. That leaves Minnesota (16-5) atop the Big Ten with two games to play. It's only a half-game lead, but it's a big half-game.

(29) Ohio State cruises to a 13-4 triumph in Columbus. Alex Wimmers dazzles again -- six innings of shutout baseball with 12 K's tossed in for good measure. The win pushes OSU to 16-6 and still hot on the heels of those Gophers.

Here's how the standings look as of tonight:

1. Minnesota 16-5
2. Ohio State 16-6
3. Indiana 15-6
4. Illinois 15-7
5. Michigan State 12-10
6. Purdue 10-11
7. Michigan 9-13
8. Penn State 7-15
9. Iowa 4-17
10. Northwestern 3-17

Yes, tomorrow will be interesting.

Burkhart, Phegley Bench Award Semi Finalists

The honors just keep rolling in today. Ohio State's Dan Burkhart and Indiana's Josh Phegley are both included amongst the thirteen semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award. The Bench Award, presented annually the top catcher in college baseball, is presented by the Wichita Greater Sports Commission.

Arnett, McCallum & Wimmers Amongst Semi-Finalists

Three Big Ten stars remain in contention for major awards. Minnesota second baseman Derek McCallum is amongst the sixteen semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy. Presented annually by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, The Howser Trophy is given to the best player in all of college baseball.

Indiana's Eric Arnett and Ohio State's Alex Wimmers are still vying for the Pitcher of the Year Award. Arnett and Wimmers are two of fifteen semifinalists as announced by the College Baseball Foundation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Q & A With IU Head Coach Tracy Smith

By now, most of you are aware of the recently approved NCAA legislation that added a week onto the beginning of the college baseball season starting next year. Most of the traditional college baseball media (and some of the not-so-traditional) have either ignored the matter as relatively unimportant or accepted the fact it hurts northern baseball, but that because so many coaches wanted it, it must be fine.

Only Michigan's Rich Maloney had been quoted as opposing the measure. However, I knew there had to be more coaches as frustrated by this turn of events as Maloney. In that spirit, I contacted Indiana head coach Tracy Smith. Smith was kind enough to answer a few email questions about this new policy. Here is a portion of that exchange.

BTH: What was your initial reaction to this proposal?

Coach Smith: Disappointment was my initial reaction. I was disappointed that it happened, I was disappointed that (some) coaches wanted it to happened, and I was disappointed in the leadership that allowed it to happen.

BTH: Both ABCA executive director Dave Keilitz and the college baseball media admit that this change will have a negative effect on northern baseball, but counter that the measure benefits the sport overall.

Coach Smith: It depends on who is defining the "sport overall". I am not saying there is a perfect solution that benefits all colleges. But if you look at college baseball as it is today (even without the recent rule change) it very much favors "warm weather" teams. This recent rule change only increases that advantage for those schools. So to say it helped the sport overall, I greatly disagree. It helped those who needed it the least.

BTH: What significant benefit does the rest of the nation receive?

Coach Smith: The obvious benefit is it allows schools with warm weather to play more games at home, as if they didn't play enough already. This season we will play 17 home games of the 56 game-schedule. The term "home field advantage" was dubbed for a reason - in all sports. I don't know if there is scientific research supporting this point, but teams seem to have a better win percentage at home than on the road. Therefore, if a school is playing a majority of their games at home, I would argue they have a better chance of winning. Northern schools already play a disproportionate number of contests on the road so the new rule will only make it more disproportionate. Here comes my sarcasm . . . unless, of course, some of the southern schools would like to travel to Bloomington, IN in mid-February for a 3-game series.

This does not even take into account the "physical condition" of your team after X-amount of weeks on the road early in the season. Traveling every weekend for 4-5 straight, usually to venues requiring flights, takes it out of your team. This is where I shake my head at the NCAA when discussing this rule. Do you realize how much class our kids miss with the schedule the way it is now? Now they are talking about adding another weekend for our kids to miss school? So much for "student welfare".

The whole NCAA tournament field is designed to reward teams with solid records and high RPI's. Well, for reasons I stated above it is pretty obvious why you don't see too many northern schools receiving "at large" bids to the tournament every year. If you don't win early in the season, you aren't going. I hear southern coaches all the time state that "most programs in the north just aren't as good as those in the south." Looking at it at face value there is some truth to those comments, but how would we know? I would love to see some of the premier programs in the south play 70% of their schedule on the road with limited or no practice on their field before game 1, rain out after rain out during mid-week games (limited development of players) to see if their RPI would be the same. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. The only way would have been able to come close to answering that question would have been to tack the extra week on the end of the season to allow northern schools to "host" southern schools when their weather was good enough to host. Even when we had those rare opportunities, many southern schools declined to travel north to play because they didn't like playing "away from home" if they didn't have to. So, if northern schools are forced to play more "away" games and travel more with less practice time outside, etc, is it any wonder northern schools have lower RPI's? All the NCAA has done is widen the already existing gap. So for people to use the NCAA tournament field as THE indicator of "who are the best teams", it's pretty obvious to me the system for determining the field is flawed and biased by the number of home games some teams play against the number of away games.

BTH: Some have said that as this new rule only effects about four games, and as the 2010 season will start on roughly the same date as this season did, why are so many in the north upset?

Coach Smith: Because it is adding injury to insult that's why. Most all coaches in the north don't like the current schedule because of everything I mentioned above, but it was put in place a couple years ago. At that time were told we would never get the 2-3 three weeks added onto the end of season like we wanted a few years ago. So we SETTLED for the March 1 start date, etc. Now to come back and do this, most northern schools feel we are no better off than we were before the rule change - which we aren't. So I don't care if it is 4 games or 1 game, it translates into more games we HAVE to play away from home. The rich get richer and poor get poorer.

BTH: Doesn't this new measure effectively crush the spirit of the Universal Start Date?

Coach Smith: No question it does.

BTH: Michigan's Rich Maloney was quoted as saying that the ideal situation for northern programs would be to have the fourteen week schedule, but have it begin on March 1st. Do you concur with that sentiment?

Coach Smith: Absolutely. You would think we could come up a way to have 14 week schedule beginning March 1st and concluding with a college world series. Yes, some adjustments would have to be made, but it is possible.

BTH: Realizing that we don't operate in a perfect world, is there any other alternative you could suggest to help create a more balanced schedule?

Coach Smith: If things keep going like they are, I would be in favor of reducing the number of games to say 52 (we can't get our 56 in anyway). I said this at our coach's meeting in Indianapolis. That way, college baseball would really be addressing "student wellness", reducing travel costs, and balancing the home and away "thing". And to borrow the southern school quote, "we are only talking about 4 games . . . "

BTH: Is there anything else you would like to say about this proposal or any other current NCAA legislation that hurts college baseball, especially here in the north?

Coach Smith: I don't think there is a way to fix college baseball for everyone, I really don't. Do I think it could be better for the overall sport? Absolutely. When I got the message from my compliance officer about the NCAA adding another week to the front end of the baseball schedule I was disappointed, but not surprised. After having a couple of days to digest the message I couldn't help but think about the greater message the NCAA is sending as a result of rule change, and unfortunately I've heard that message loud and clear - northern baseball really isn't a priority for the NCAA. Coming from a "northern program" where I wake up every day striving to reach the NCAA tournament with a hope of winning a national title; I think that it is sad.

Last One In

The race for the last Big Ten Tournament slot is down to the final three games. Purdue is your clubhouse leader, but both Michigan and Penn State have an outside chance of playing in Columbus next week. Courtesy of an unnamed source, here are the winning percentages of each of the three depending on how many wins they post this week.

Purdue (who host Illinois)
.391 - If they lose all three
.435 - If they win one
.478 - If they win two
.522 - If they sweep

Michigan (who visit Northwestern)
.333 - If they lose all three
.375 - If they win one
.417 - If they win two
.458 - If they sweep

Penn State (who host Minnesota)
.333 - If they win one
.375 - If they win two
.417 - If they sweep (PSU holds tiebreaker w/Michigan)

Basically, Purdue is in the proverbial driver's seat. With one win over Illinois, the Boilers eliminate Penn State and force Michigan to sweep NU. Two wins and they bounce UM and clinch the final spot. I'll let you review all the other possibilities.

If someone out there has done the same math for winning the regular season title, and would like to share, I'd gladly post those numbers as well. Just drop me a note with the figures. (Look, we know my math is suspect.)

All-Weekend Team

I've got plenty to do today and, as you know the drill, let's just jump right into this week's All-Weekend Team.

C: Dan Burkhart, Ohio State - Hit a pair of doubles, homered, scored three runs and collected four RBI on three hits.

1B: Jeff Holm, Michigan State - Did most everything in twos. Two walks, two sacrifice flies, two runs scored and two RBI. Broke the twin streak with three hits in eight at-bats (.375).

2B: Cory Kovanda, Ohio State - Hit .500 (7-for-14) versus Illinois. Scored three times and drove in four more runs.

2B: Tyler Rogers, Indiana - Homered, got hit-by-a-pitch, stole two bases, walked twice, scored two runs and had five RBI. Also hit .500 (4-for-8) over the weekend.

2B: Derek McCallum, Minnesota - Just another ho-hum .462 (six-for-thirteen) three-game set. McCallum doubled, walked three times, scored four runs and drove in five against Michigan.

SS: Tyler Engle, Ohio State - Five hits in twelve AB's (.417) in the big series vs. the Illini. Engle drew two free passes, hit a pair of doubles, homered, drove in three runs and scored five.

3B: Justin Miller, Ohio State - The Buckeyes captain hit .667 (8-for-12) this weekend. Miller doubled, walked twice, went yard twice, scored four runs and had five RBI.

OF: Joe Bonadonna, Illinois - Hit .600 (6-for-10) against the Buckeyes' staff. The Illini leadoff man homered, doubled twice, drew five walks, crossed home three times and drove in seven runs.

OF: Ryan LaMarre, Michigan - The sophomore drove in five runs and scored five more vs. Minnesota. LaMarre also collected five hits in twelve at-bats (.417).

OF: Brandon Haveman, Purdue - The Boilermakers' leadoff man hit .462 (6-for-13) against MSU. Haveman walked, homered, stole a base, drove in two runs and scored five more.

OF: Ryan Durant, Iowa - The junior hit .571 (8-for-14) in three games. Durant walked, doubled, stole a base, drove in a run and scored two.

OF: Evan Crawford, Indiana - Hit .600 (6-for-10) vs. Northwestern. Doubled, drove in a run, walked twice, stole three bases and scored four runs.

BN: Kipp Schutz, Indiana - A .444 (4-for-9) weekend average with a double, two walks, two RBI and three runs scored.

BN: Jake McLouth, Michigan - The Wolverines freshman walked, doubled, homered, got hit-by-a-pitch, scored two runs and had five RBI. McLouth also hit .454 (5-for-11).

BN: Eric Decker, Minnesota - Hit .454 (5-for-11) in Ann Arbor. Decker walked, homered, had two doubles, a RBI and scored four runs.

BN: Mike Deese, Penn State - The PSU designated hitter stole a base, doubled, walked twice, homered twice, scored three runs and had four RBI. Deese also had four hits in thirteen at-bats for a .307 average.

BN: Ryan Dew, Ohio State - Doubled, homered, stole a base, had two RBI, four runs scored and five hits in fourteen at-bats (.357). Dew stays amongst the conference leaders in batting average.

SP: Eric Arnett, Indiana - A complete game W. Arnett surrendered two runs on five hits and six walks while striking out eight. Every win just increases his school record.

SP: Alex Wimmers, Ohio State - 7.2 innings of two-run, six-hit baseball. Wimmers walked two and struck out seven, but didn't get a decision.

SP: Eric Jokisch, Northwestern - Three runs on eight hits and three walks over eight innings of work. Jokisch also fanned eight, but took the loss.

SP: Jarred Hippen, Iowa - Allowed only one earned run over 7.1 innings. Hippen did yield three three unearned runs in total on four hits and five walks, but struck out six. The freshman posted his third win.

BP: Ryan Ignas, Penn State - In two appearances, he collected a win and a save. Tossed a total of three innings allowing four hits, one walk and one run.

BP: David Lutz, Penn State - Made two appearances totaling four innings. He gave up no runs on three hits and a walk. Lutz also K'd five. He picked up his second save of the season.

Per standard operating procedure, you are encouraged to drop me a note informing me of mathematic errors and/or making the case for someone I've missed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

OSU Wins, Gophers Hold Top Spot

(25) Ohio State beat Illinois this afternoon, 12-7. Both sides now have 15-6 records. Minnesota, which lost the final game of their weekend set to Michigan, has a 15-5 mark. The Gophers hold a half-game lead over both the Buckeyes and Illini heading into the last three games of the season.

Indiana improved to 14-6 in completing their sweep over Northwestern. The Hoosiers will need some help, but they remain mathematically in the mix, as well.

Michigan State fell to Purdue Sunday and are now 12-8. The Boilers are next at 8-11. Purdue holds onto the last conference tournament slot. The two teams will wrap up their series Monday afternoon.

Michigan's win over the Gophers put the Wolverines at 8-13 and in seventh spot. Penn State is 7-14, Iowa won and improves to 4-16 while Northwestern falls to 3-16.

Looking ahead to the final series of the regular season, Minnesota will travel to Penn State. Illinois visits Purdue, Iowa invades Ohio State, Indiana hosts Michigan State and Michigan calls on Northwestern.

Sunday Night Chat

Brian Foley of the College Baseball Blog is hosting his latest Sunday night chat. Please feel free to join in.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Gophers Move To Top

Minnesota's 12-5 triumph over Michigan has moved the Gophers into first place in the Big Ten. The Gophers win combined with (25) Ohio State's 10-7 win over Illinois allows Minnesota to claim a half game lead in the conference race. Illinois is second and the Buckeyes are in third place.

Indiana swept a Saturday twinbill with Northwestern, 3-2 and 5-2, keeping the Hoosiers in fourth. Fifth place is held by Michigan State. The Spartans secured a Big Ten Tournament berth with their 6-5 win over Purdue.

The final post-season spot currently belongs to Purdue. The Boilers are at 7-11. Michigan and Penn State are next at 7-13. Northwestern follows at 3-15 and Iowa rounds out the field at 3-16.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Illini Rally To Beat Bucks, Gophers Keep Pace

A three-run bottom of the ninth lifted Illinois past Ohio State, 5-4. The win keeps Illinois atop the Big Ten at 15-4. The loss sends OSU's record in conference to 13-6. Dominic Altobelli homered and had two RBI to lead the Illini. The Buckeyes' Michael Stephens and Dan Burkhart also homered and drove in two runs a piece.

Illinois' Phil Haig and OSU's Alex Wimmers were both good, but neither starting pitcher factored in the decision. John Anderson got the win in relief. Jake Hale took the loss.

Minnesota held off Michigan, 9-5, in Ann Arbor. Gophers' SS AJ Petteren had three hits and three RBI. Derek McCallum also had three RBI for Minnesota. Michigan senior 3B Tim Kalczynski had three hits, including a homer, and three RBI.

Minnesota improved to 14-4 in Big Ten play. Michigan fell to 7-12.

Penn State leads Iowa, 8-5, in the ninth inning. The Nittany Lions have hit five homers thus far. Jordan Steranka, Mike Deese, Rick Marlin and Bobby Jacobs (twice) have all gone yard. Heath is 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.

IU/NU Washed Out

Today's game between Indiana and Northwestern has been postponed due to weather in Bloomington. They will (hopefully) play two tomorrow.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

For Your Reading Pleasure

Here are some Big Ten college baseball links that I submit for your review.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Roman Augustoviz does a piece on the rebound at Minnesota. Honest-to-goodness media coverage of college baseball in the north. Shocking.

Behind The Plate previews the Indiana/Northwestern series.

Tom at the Illinois Baseball Report does a Q & A with an Ohio State fan about this weekend's honkin' huge series. (Hey, is that the OSU Drew that comments here?) Illini and Bucks making friendly before a big game? I suppose this is my fault?

Chris Webb, of Buckeye Nine fame, chats up College Baseball Today's Eric Sorenson about the Bucks, the RPI, the regional hosting process and other topics.

Speaking of Big E, Sorenson goes listapalooza in his weekend preview. A number of Big Ten references are included.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

That's Going To Leave A Mark

There are losses and then there are losses. (25) Ohio State traveled down to Louisville today and promptly got hammered by the Cardinals, 21-5. Normally, at this point, you would expect me to rant about how Big Ten teams are perpetually failing in these midweek endeavors.

While the sentiment rings true, especially for those squads vying for NCAA at-large berths, I'm a bit weary of fighting for truth, justice and equity for northern baseball this week. So, no rant is forthcoming. I'll let the 21 runs speak for themselves.

Michigan did about the same amount of damage as Louisville did. The Wolverines thumped Western Michigan, 20-1. Mike Dufek's 6-for-6, 2 homer, six RBI game is the story from Kalamazoo.

Valparaiso is attempting to make a run at the twenty-run club against Northwestern. Valpo leads NU, 13-2. It's only the fourth inning.

Minnesota has their hands full with North Dakota State. It's 6-5, Gophers, in the eighth.

Illinois leads Western Illinois, 6-1. It's the sixth inning. Dominic Altobelli has three hits and three RBI thus far.

Iowa leads Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 7-3, in the eighth inning. Kurtis Muller has two hits, two runs and two RBI for the Hawkeyes.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Your Choice To Win The Big Ten Is.....

Ohio State.

Thirty-one of the ninety-nine of you that were kind enough to vote in the first poll here selected the Buckeyes to capture the Big Ten. Minnesota followed closely behind with 28 votes. Illinois, the current leader, came in third with 24 votes.

Indiana finished a distant fourth with only nine votes. Seven of you are either wonderfully optimistic or blindly loyal and chose the "other" option.

My thanks for participating in the poll. Expect another soon.

The All-Weekend Team

Here's the first All-Weekend Team of May. On this week's side, we have plenty of faces from Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota. All three swept their weekend sets. Of course, we have Mr. No-Hitter, as well.

C: Aaron Johnson, Illinois - The Illini catcher went six-for-fourteen (.429) with three runs scored and seven RBI in the sweep of Northwestern. Johnson also was added to the Johnny Bench Award (National Catcher of the Year) watch list today. It's much deserved.

C: Kyle Knudson, Minnesota - Hit .583 (7-for-12) in the series against Iowa. Walked four times, scored three runs and had seven RBI.

1B: Jeff Holm, Michigan State - Seven hits in twelve at-bats for the Spartans firstbaseman lands him on this week's squad. Holm walked, stole a base, doubled twice, scored three times and drove in four. Did you know this guy's in the top five in the Big Ten in stolen bases?

2B: Derek McCallum, Minnesota - Hit .500 (7-for-14) in the sweep of Iowa. McCallum walked, stole a base, got hit-by-a-pitch, doubled twice, homered twice, scored six runs and had five RBI. Any wonder why he's in the running for player of the year?

SS: Brandon Wikoff, Illinois - Had nine hits in thirteen at-bats (.692) in three games. Wikoff had a sacrifice fly, a pair of doubles, a pair of walks, crossed home plate six times and drove in seven runs. Wikoff was named as the conference's Player of the Week, as well.

SS: Jonathan Roof, Michigan State - Hit .385 (5-for-13) off Penn State pitching. Roof had a sac fly, steal, five RBI and six runs scored.

3B: Dominic Altobelli, Illinois - A double, homer, seven hits (in fifteen at-bats), four runs scored and five RBI.

OF: Willie Argo, Illinois - Hit .400 (4-for-10) against Northwestern pitching this past weekend. Two homers, two walks, four runs scored and five RBI for the Illini frosh. His last two weeks have him back in the discussion for conference freshman of the year.

OF: Michael Kvasnicka, Minnesota - Six-for-fourteen (.429) for the Gophers' sophomore vs. Iowa. A walk, double, homer, two steals, five runs scored and six RBI.

OF: Ryan Dew, Ohio State - Went seven-for-thirteen (.538) against Michigan. Dew homered, drove in six runs and scored three. Dew's quietly making a run at the batting title.

BN: Dallas Burke, Iowa - The Hawkeyes' freshman hit .615 (8-for-13) vs. Gophers' pitching. Burke doubled, homered, stole a base, walked twice, scored a run and drove in six.

BN: Matt Nohelty, Minnesota - The Gophers' leadoff man had just two hits, but walked eight times in the three games vs. Iowa. The senior got plunked by a pitch, tripled, stole two bases, drove in a run and scored seven times.

BN: A.J. Pettersen, Minnesota - Following Nohelty's lead, the Gophers' freshman scored seven runs in three games. Pettersen walked, got hit by a pair of pitches and drove in four. The shortstop had four hits in thirteen at-bats (.308).

BN: Eric Charles, Purdue - Hit an impressive .636 (seven-for-eleven) vs. Indiana. Charles got hit-by-a-pitch, walked, had two RBI and five runs scored.

BN: Chris Roberts, Michigan State - The Spartans' secondbaseman scored five runs and had four RBI in the sweep over Penn State. Roberts walked, stole a base, had an HBP, homered and went 4-for-12 (.333).

BN: Eric Roof, Michigan State - The catcher hit .444 (four-for-nine) in three games. Roof doubled, walked four times, scored three times and drove in two.

SP: Alex Wimmers, Ohio State - You knew this was coming. Wimmers claimed a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week honor and the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award by tossing the first nine-inning no-hitter in Ohio State history. Wimmers allowed only four walks and struck out fourteen in beating Michigan.

SP: Nolan Moody, Michigan State - Eight innings of four-hit, one-run baseball for the Spartans' senior. Moody walked three and fanned nine. The Spartans' Friday starter is a big reason why MSU is having such a surprising season.

SP: Bryan Roberts, Illinois - Improved to 5-2 by posting seven shutout innings. Roberts gave up five hits and three walks while striking out five.

SP: A.J. Achter, Michigan State - One run, but it was unearned, over eight innings make Achter the second MSU pitcher on the AWT. Achter K'd five while giving up eight hits and three walks.

SP: Phil Haig, Illinois - The Illini lefty tossed a complete game victory. Haig gave up two runs, one earned, on just six hits. He struck out three Wildcats.

That's right. No bullpen this week. You are welcome to make your case to add additional pitchers or a closer, or any other spot for that matter, but no other arms caught my attention this past weekend. You also are well aware that I question my own math, so the numbers above could be wrong. Very, very wrong. Again, drop me an email, if I've erred.

As it is May, that means the regular season is rapidly winding down. After this week's AWT, only two more remain. You have my permission to reach for a Kleenex.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Illini Sweep And Take First Place

Tonight's chat at the College Baseball Blog ran long, that late discussion over the NCAA's legislation on scheduling didn't help, so I'm running behind. Let's just quickly recap what's most important and what you probably already know -- the standings.

However, let's keep in mind that the caveats about my math remain. In fact, I would say there's even a better chance than normal that I've made an error. The hour and the fact I've been discussing things like the inequity in college baseball and the need for conference tournaments have probably conspired to limit by ability to think properly.

Illinois swept Northwestern and combined with Michigan's win over Ohio State, took over first place in the Big Ten (14-4). Minnesota (13-4) remains hot on the Illini's heels with a sweep of their own over Iowa. The Buckeyes (13-5), who took two of three from Michigan, are in third.

Indiana's (11-6) lost two of three to Purdue and find themselves in fourth place. Fifth belongs to surprising Michigan State (11-7). The Spartans got to use a broom as well as they took three straight from Penn State. The sixth spot, and final conference tournament slot, belongs to Purdue (7-10).

Michigan (7-11) is seventh, Penn State (5-13) eighth, Northwestern (3-13) ninth and Iowa (3-14) tenth. My apologies if I have misplaced your university in the standings.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Wimmers' No-No Highlights Saturday

Ohio State's Alex Wimmers threw a no-hitter versus Michigan in game one of their doubleheader today. Wimmers tossed the first nine-inning no-hitter in OSU history in leading the Buckeyes past the Wolverines, 6-0. The OSU sophomore walked four, but also struck out fourteen.

Dan Burkhart, Wimmers' high school teammate, cut down three of the four Wolverines that reached base trying to steal. Ryan Dew supplied all the offense Wimmers and the Bucks would need. Dew had a pair of hits, including his fifth dinger of the season, and drove in three runs.

Dew continued to pace the Buckeyes offense in the backend of the twinbill. The OSU designated hitter went 5-for-5 with another homer, two runs scored and two RBI in the 9-6 Buckeyes' triumph. Michael Stephens went 3-for-4 and Dan Burkhart had three RBI. Michigan's Nick Urban and Alan Oaks both drove in two runs.

Illinois won a slugfest with Northwestern, 15-12. Illini OF Pete Cappetta went 4-for-6 with a run scored and four RBI. Dominic Altobelli had three hits, three runs and three RBI. Brandon Wikoff had three hits, three RBI and two runs scored. The Wildcats counter-offensive was led by Tony Vercelli. The NU OF hit a pair of bombs and drove in six. Paul Snieder had three hits including a homer. Chris Lashmet drove in three runs.

In another contest filled with runs, Minnesota pummeled Iowa, 26-9. Gopher outfielders Michael Kvasnicka and Justin Gominsky both had three-hit, five-RBI games. Freshman 3B Kyle Geason had four hits, four runs scored and four RBI. Dallas Burke's three hits and six RBI paced the Hawkeyes' attack. Freshman 1B Sean Flanagan went yard and drove in three in the losing effort.

Indiana split their doubleheader with Purdue. The Boilers claimed game one, 15-8. Alex Jaffee's three RBI's paced the Purdue offense. Jaffee and Dan Black both went yard. Black, Jon Cummins, Jonathan Lilly and Eric Charles all drove in two runs a piece. Vince Gonzalez' two hits and three RBI led the way for IU.

IU won the second game, 7-6. Eric Arnett goes the distance for the Hoosiers. The righthander is now 10-1 and is only the third IU player to collect double-digit victories in a season. Arnett is also the first Hoosier to post a 6-0 conference record. IU's Jerrud Sabourin's four hit day was topped by an eighth inning homer that proved to be the game-winner. Chris Hervey and Kipp Schutz also homered for IU. Brandon Haveman had three hits to lead Purdue. Drew Madia's two RBI paced the Boilers in that category.

Michigan State's A.J. Achter goes eight innings and didn't allow an earned run to lead the Spartans past Penn State, 9-1. MSU's Johnathan Roof collected three hits, three RBI and three runs scored. A.J. Shindler also had a three-hit game for the Spartans. Ben Heath and Rick Marlin both had a pair of hits for PSU.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Two Big Wins, Two Rainouts So Far

Michigan State continues their recent strong form by hammering Penn State, 12-1. Spartans' starter Nolan Moody holds the Nittany Lions to one run on four hits and three walks. The MSU righty fanned nine in posting his sixth win of the year. MSU 2B Chris Roberts had a pair of hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Spartans' 1B Jeff Holm had three hits, two RBI and scored twice. Bobby Jacobs homer accounted for the PSU tally.

Illinois beat up Northwestern today, 10-2. Illinois' SP Phil Haig tossed a six-hit complete game. The Illini lefty allow two runs, but only one was earned while striking out three and walking no one. Haig is now 6-2. Aaron Johnson and Willie Argo both had three RBI for Illinois. Kenneth Avila had two of NU's six hits. The Illini win keeps the heat on the other three teams at the top of the standings.

The weather washed away today's game between Indiana and Purdue and tonight's Big Ten Network production of Michigan at Ohio State.

That leaves only one game left on today's docket. Iowa has taken an early lead on Minnesota, 1-0. It's only the second inning in Gopherland.