2012 Big Ten Baseball Weekly Review - Week 3

Purdue is off to their best start since 1959. Are they the team to beat in the Big Ten?

I spent part of my weekend at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, watching Nebraska play the hardball. It was an immense amount of fun, especially Saturday's game in which the Huskers looked dead until the bottom of the ninth inning when they scored four runs to take the game from New Mexico State.

I get the feeling from talking to Husker fans that there's a mix of cautious optimism with a little bit of high expectations. I didn't run into anyone who felt that Nebraska is going to come in and take over the conference. Everyone is excited about Darin Erstad. Everyone.

After the jump is your Big Ten Baseball Weekly Review. Bottom line - Purdue is looking like the time to beat, and while Michigan State went 0-3 on the weekend, you can't complain about them traveling to College Station, TX to take on the fifth-ranked Aggies.

Illinois

1-1

Illinois 4, St John's 0

Coastal Carolina 5, Illinois 4

Illinois was supposed to play four games at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, but two were cancelled due to weather. Still, a win against St John's and a close game against CC, not bad for two games.

In the St John's game, Illini pitcher Kevin Johnson threw seven innings giving up seven hits but no runs. It was Johnson's third appearance this season, and raised his ERA to 4.50.

Illinois outhit the Chanticleers, but committed three errors and couldn't get a run in the final three innings. Shortshop Thomas Lindauer went 4-for-8 in the two games, with a double and two runs while 1B Jordan Parr hit .429 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs.

Illinois pitching had a good weekend against a couple good teams, with a 1.06 ERA and two earned runs. Clean up the errors (four in two games) and they win both games.

Indiana

1-2

East TN State 4, Indinana 3

Indiana 10, East TN State 5

East TN State 2, Indiana 1

Indiana fell to 3-6 after losing a pair of games at East Tennessee State. In the first, the Hoosiers lead 3-0 after 6.5 innings, then let the Buccaneers score runs in the seventh and eighth, then two more in the bottom of the ninth. It wasted a good effort by pitcher Joey DeNato who went seven innings, giving up only six hits and one run that came on a homer by ETSU's Clinton Freeman.

Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber hit a grand slam home run in the fifth inning which saw the Hoosiers score six runs.

In the rubber match, the Hoosiers could manage only four hits while giving up nine, including a single that allowed a runner at third to score in the eighth, giving the Buccaneers the win and the series.

Four of Indiana's six losses have come by one run, including two to homers. Timely hitting, that's what these guys need.

Iowa

2-1

Iowa 17, Akron 3

Austin Peay 4, Iowa 3 (10 innings)

Iowa 16, Youngstown State 15 (10 innings)

Iowa went 2-1 against shaky competition this past weekend, although they did finish two games in extra innings to come up with some wins and move to 3-6 on the season.

The Hawkeyes gave up 12 hits to winless Akron, but held them to three runs while getting 15 hits of their own. They then managed only six hits against Austin Peay, and then gave up a single run in the eighth and finally the bottom of the tenth to take the loss.

The final game lasted four hours and 31 minutes, totaled 39 hits and 31 runs between the two teams, who used a total of 14 pitchers. Iowa sent the game to extra innings on a balk and then pinch hitter Taylor Zeutenhorst hit a double to plate a run and give the Hawkeyes the game.

Michigan

1-3

Ohio State 9, Michigan 4

Michigan 17, Chicago State 8

Xavier 7, Michigan 4

Xavier 5, Michigan 3

It's never a good weekend for the Wolverines when they lose to Ohio State, especially when you give up five runs in the top of the ninth and commit four errors in the process. The loss wasted a good effort by pitcher Brandon Sinnery who went 6.1 innings, giving up six hits and two runs.

The Wolverines responded with 19 hits and 17 runs against Chicago State, with Will Drake going 6-for-6 and Coley Frank hitting a pair of homers. The loss against Xavier Saturday came with the Musketeers scoring four in the second, and another three in the fourth. Xavier pitcher Jon Richard went seven innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.

The final game had Michigan with a 3-1 lead after six, after which the Musketeers tied the game in the eighth and won it with two runs in the top of the ninth. This time it was Xavier pitcher Tyler Koors going eight innings, giving up nine hits and only three runs. Michigan's Ben Ballantine had a good outing, 7.2 innings pitched, eight hits and three runs (two earned), but the Wolverines scattered hits across the innings and couldn't score.

Michigan State

0-3

Texas A&M 7, MSU 3
Texas A&M 4, MSU 0

Texas A&M 9, MSU 8

The Spartans traveled to College State to face the top-ranked Aggies, but couldn't pull off a win.

In the opener, both teams had 12 hits apiece, but the Spartans left 10 on base and seven in scoring position. Three errors didn't help. Tony Bucciferro went six innings, giving up 10 hits, and 5 runs.

In the second game, MSU ran into Aggie pitcher Ross Stripling, who went eight innings, giving up five hits and no runs. MSU left 10 on base again.

Hoping to get a win in the third, MSU scored four runs in the first inning, but couldn't hold the lead. They nearly rallied in the ninth, scoring one run but Jeremy Pickens attempt to homer was caught at the warning track to end the game.

Minnesota

2-1

Minnesota 8, New Mexico State 1

Minnesota 11, West Virginia 3

Nebraska 10, Minnesota 3

Minnesota won their own tournament after three teams finished with a 2-1 record and the Gophers won a tiebreaker due to run differential.

Minnesota beat New Mexico State with a six run fifth inning while freshman pitcher TJ Oakes threw 5.2 innings, allowing only one run and two hits against the tough Aggie offense. Oakes improved to 3-0 with the win while DH Bobby Juan went 3-for-4 with three RBI.

Tom Windle threw 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and two runs while Matt Puhl went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and double, and Dan Olinger went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two doubles.

Minnesota's pitcher Austin Lubinsky struggled against the Husker offense, only going three innings while giving up 10 hits and seven runs. Minnesota fought back, scoring a run apiece in the fixth, sixth and seven innings but a three-run Husker ninth inning killed the rally.

Minnesota had come into the weekend struggling on offense, but batted well. The Gophers improved to 5-5 on the season. The Gophers currently lead the Big Ten in pitching at 3.38 - don't count them out because of early season hitting woes. TJ Oakes earned tournament honors as best pitcher.

Nebraska

2-1

West Virginia 4, Nebraska 1

Nebraska 6, NMSU 4

Nebraska 10, Minnesota 3

Nebraska had a decent weekend at Minnesota's Dairy Queen Classic, despite losing the Friday game to West Virginia. Zach Hirsch pitched decently against the Mountaineers, going seven innings giving up seven hits and four runs, but the Husker offense could manage only six hits and a run against Corey Walter.

Saturday's game looked like more of the same until the Huskers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to take the game against New Mexico State. Things looked bad earlier for the Huskers after starter Jon Keller was chased after 1.1 innings in which he gave up four hits and four runs.

Dylan Vogt came in and threw 2.1 innings without allowing a hit and then Kyle Kubat and Jeff Stoval threw the next 2.1 innings, giving up only two hits. Michael Pritchard, who won the tourney's "Silver Stick Award" for best hitter, singled in the ninth, then was driven in by a Richard Stock double. Rich Sanguinetti put the win away with a homer after Kash Kalkowski singled through the left side.

Sunday's game was never really in doubt, as the Huskers pummeled the Gophers for seven runs in the first four innings. Tom Lemke threw the first five innings, giving up four hits and a run. One thing to mention - before the game, Minnesota honored players from their 1982, 1992, and 2002 Big Ten Championship teams. 1982 was Minnesota coach John Anderson's first season as a head coach. When he walked out to meet Darin Erstad it was rookie vs the dean of the Big Ten. Here's to Darin Erstad being a conference championship winner in his first season.

It was a great weekend to watch Nebraska baseball. The Friday game was a head-scratcher, but could be chalked up to Walter's excellent outing. Richard Stock, Austin Darby, and Michael Pritchard were honored by selection to the all-tourney team.

Northwestern

2-2

Western Michigan 4, NU 1

NU 3, Xavier 2

Villanova 6, NU 3

NU 14, Chicago State 6

NU pitcher Zach Morton threw a complete game, giving up only seven hits and four runs, but the Wildcat offense could manage only seven hits and a run in the loss.

Against Xavier, Wildcat pitcher Francis Brooke threw six innings with seven hits and two runs. The Musketeers outhit the Wildcats 11-5, but committed six errors. Xavier pitcher Pat Young went seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs.

The win over Chicago State gave Wildcat coach Pat Stevens his 600th career victory. NU managed 19 hits in the game.

Ohio State

3-1

OSU 9, Michigan 4,

Western Michigan 15, OSU 8

OSU 5, Western Michigan 2

OSU 4, Villanova 3 (10 innings)

How much do Ohio State and Michigan hate each other? Check this quote out from Ohio State head coach Greg Beals:

"All you have to say is it's Ohio State against Michigan," Ohio State head coach Greg Bealssaid. "That win in itself is huge. One of our goals at the start of the season was to win this Michigan game. It wasn't the cleanest game but we scrapped, stayed in it and outlasted them today."

It's in every sport, not just football. Husker fans might take a cue from that.... just sayin'.

OSU's Jaron Long had a good outing, going seven innings giving up six hits and two runs (one earned). Josh Dezse threw 1.2 innings - I didn't realize he pitched as well as played first base - although after giving up two hits and two runs maybe he should just stick to first base.

The Buckeyes gave up 21 hits in their first loss to the Broncos, with Brian King getting hammered after going only two innings, giving up 10 hits and nine runs. His relief didn't do much better as Paul Geuy threw 5.1 innings with 10 hits and six runs. Nine Bronco players had a multi-hit outing.

In the second game of the double header, OSU pitcher Brett McKinney threw a complete game gem, the first of his career, allowing only five hits and two runs. The Buckeyes scored four runs in the third, added another in the fourth. Western Michigan tried to rally, scoring two in the seventh on a two-run homer, but McKinney shut them down in the eighth and picked up a double play in the ninth to seal the win.

The OSU bullpen came threw against Villanova. OSU's Greg Greve started, throwing six innings allowing four hits and three runs (2 earned). Three Buckeye pitchers finished the game allowing only one hit between them. That'd be the difference as Villanova started Stephen Ostapeck threw six, giving up five hits and three runs. Unfortunately, his bullpen gave up a single run in the bottom of the 10th inning as Josh Dezse's sacrifice fly scored Joe Ciamacco to take the win. Ciamacco now has a five-game multi-hit steak going and the Buckeyes improved to 5-4.

Penn State

1-1

Penn State 7, Samford 4

Samford 4, Penn State 1

Penn State's series with Samford continues today and then they head over to take on Mississippi State for a mid-week two-game series.

Penn State finally got some offense going (12 hits) to take the win, ending a three-game losing streak. Samford tried to rally, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but that ended on a fly out and strike out. Pitcher Cody Lewis picked up his first win of the season, going six innings while giving up seven hits and two runs.

Penn State's John Walter had a good outing in the loss, but Samford's Charles Basford pitched a complete game beauty, giving up six scattered hits and a run. Basford recorded eight first-pitch outs - maybe PSU could have coughed up some batting rules?

Purdue

3-0

Purdue 9, Auburn 8

Purdue 10, Southern Miss 9

Purdue 5, Charleston Southern 2

Purdue headed South to the Auburn tournament, came away with a sweep, a tournament win and with a 8-1 overall record, their best start since 1959. The win against Auburn was Purdue's first against a SEC opponent since 2007, and the first against Auburn since 1941 - not a bad weekend, eh?

Against Auburn, center fielder Tyler Spillner went 4-for-6, scoring three runs and two RBIs. Second baseman Eric Charles, 4-for-6, added two more runs and a RBI. The key to winning? Keep scoring - the Boilermakers scored four runs over the final two innings.

The win against Auburn must have inspired a never-say-die attitude, because the win against Southern Miss came with the Boilermakers scoring seven times with two outs in the seventh to rally back after being six runs down. That had to hurt!

In the finale, Purdue's Calvin Gunter threw 5.1 innings, giving up seven hits and two runs (one earned), then Boilermaker relievers Blake Mascarello and Nick Wittgren combined to allow only two hits the rest of the way. Wittgren earned his 15th career save, tying the Purdue all-time record.

Purdue is looking like the Big Ten team to beat. They're tops in batting at .346 (Nebraska second at .318), sixth in pitching with an ERA of 4.52, but

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