Big Ten Baseball: 2012 Weekly Review Week 12

What a wild weekend for the Big Ten. Indiana moved into second place in the conference, taking their series 2-1 over Nebraska on the road. Penn State did the same to Minnesota. The Hoosiers moved into second place in the conference and by doing so, dropped the Huskers to seventh place and in danger of missing the Big Ten tournament.

For once, Purdue was a disappointment, losing a huge series to UCLA on the road. Michigan State stayed in contention for second by winning their series over Illinois.

As it stands right now, the biggest surprises of the season as follows:

- Purdue's absurd dominance of the Big Ten conference.

- Indiana in second place

- Penn state tied for third


Big Ten

Overall

Team

Record

Pct.

Record

Pct.

1. Purdue

14-4

.778

35-9

.795

2. Indiana

11-7

.611

24-24

.500

3. Michigan State

10-8

.556

29-16

.644

Minnesota

10-8

.556

28-22

.560

Penn State

10-8

.556

24-23

.511

6. Ohio State

11-10

.524

27-20

.574

7. Nebraska

9-9

.500

29-18

.617

Illinois

9-9

.500

26-21

.553

9. Iowa

7-11

.389

19-24

.442

10. Michigan

6-12

.333

19-28

.404

11. Northwestern

5-16

.238

16-29

.356

Illinois

1-3

Southern Illinois 7, Illinois 3

Michigan State 15, Illinois 8

Michigan State 6, Illinois 5 (10 innings)

Illinois 8, Michigan State 6

Illinois had a season-high attendance of 2,499 at the fourth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue on Friday, making it the seventh-best crowd in school history. Unfortunately, the Illini lost, giving up 14 runs while giving up 17 hits and committing four errors. Maybe the food was good.

Saturday's game was lost when Illini pitcher Matt Milroy walked Spartan Jordan Keur. Keur stole second, then scored on a single that went under the first baseman's glove. It was the only error Illinois had in the game. Tough way to love, eh?

Sunday, Illinois wore their orange-and-blue camouflage jerseys and won, but the damage had been done.

They entered the week tied for fourth and exit the week tied for seventh. Ouch.

Indiana

2-1

Nebraska 13, Indiana 2

Indiana 7, Nebraska 5

Indiana 9, Nebraska 6

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

For starters, the Hoosiers are a lot of freshman. Before the Nebraska series, over 53% of the starters through 45 games have been freshman. That explains a lot, actually. It explains why they'd have a lot of errors this season, why they lost their first game (badly) to Nebraska, then settled down and came back to win the series by sweeping the Huskers in the doubleheader.

Indiana entered the weekend with 93 errors, and left with 97. Improvement? Yeah, man.

INDIANA is now SECOND in conference. With series left against Northwestern and Ohio State at home, they have a darned good chance of maintaining their position.

Iowa

2-2

Iowa 10, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 9

Michigan 11, Iowa 0

Michigan 8, Iowa 2 (10 innings)

Iowa 7, Michigan 2

Seriously, Iowa - you lose at home to Michigan, and you open the series by getting blanked? Then you lose again, and this time you're leading the game 2-0, then allow your opponent to score two unearned runs in the top of the ninth to tie it and six more in the top of the 10th to win it?

Hey, at least freshman pitcher Sasha Kuebel is good. Sunday's win gave him a 5-0 record after he threw a complete game, giving up six hits and two runs (one earned).

Maybe he should transfer to Nebraska along with Northwestern's Zach Morton. It'd be for the good of the Big Ten, you know.

Michigan

2-1

Michigan 11, Iowa 0

Michigan 8, Iowa 2 (10 innings)

Iowa 7, Michigan 2

Michigan wins a series on the road to stay out of the basement!

Wolverine pitcher Brandon Sinnery threw a complete game against the Hawkeyes in the 11-0 squashing, giving up six hits and zero runs while only issuing one walk. That's a helluva performance and easily earned him Big Ten honors as pitcher of the week.

When you read the line "Michigan sent 10 men to the plate in the 10th" you know it's not good for the opponent.

Up next, Michigan has a two-game home series with Coastal Carolina.

Michigan State

2-1

Michigan State 15, Illinois 8

Michigan State 6, Illinois 5 (10 innings)

Illinois 8, Michigan State 6

Michigan State is tied for third place in the conference. They're also third in team pitching (3.11 ERA), third in batting (.298) and third in fielding (.972 percentage).

They're right where they're supposed to be! Wow!

Big series win for them on the road at Illinois. Friday the Spartans pounded out 17 hits and "Little" Jimmy Pickens went 3-for-5 and had six RBIs.

Then Michigan State improved to 7-1 on the season in extra innings games as they won their first series at Illinois since 2003.

Sunday they were so happy and pleased with themselves they lost.

Minnesota

2-2

Minnesota 9, St. Thomas 2

Penn State 4, Minnesota 3 (10 innings)

Penn State 5, Minnesota 1

Minnesota 8, Penn State 2

I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on the win over St Thomas, but really, it was a pretty disastrous weekend for the Golden Gophers. They had a chance to make a run at distancing themselves from the logjam, but instead fell back into the muck.

Minnesota remains the top pitching team in the conference (2.91 ERA) and TJ Oakes the top pitcher (1.70 ERA), but I have come to the conclusion that his team hates him. The Gophers lead 3-1 going into the eighth, but Oakes gave up two runs. Does his team respond? Yes, they do. By losing 4-3 in extra innings.

Saturday's game was played at Target Field. Unfortunately, there was a three-hour rain delay that probably foiled any chance of happiness for fans and players. Attendance was 3,521, even with the delay. The Gophers managed nine hits but only one run. How does that happen?

Nebraska

1-2

Nebraska 13, Indiana 2

Indiana 7, Nebraska 5

Indiana 9, Nebraska 6

Friday, the Husker offense beat up on Hoosier pitcher Joey DeNato, chasing him in five innings after he'd given up nine hits and eight runs (three earned).

Monday's game was moved to Sunday because of a potential rain out. It must have upset the Husker juju. Oh, not really. The series win at Ohio State remains Nebraska's sole road series win since 2008.

The Huskers remain the second best hitting team in conference at .313. They're tied at the tops in fielding with a .957 percentage. But in pitching.... Nebraska's pitching just hasn't lived up to the offense.

Kyle Kubat has been a bright spot, winning his first career conference start on Friday while Nebraska bashed their way to a win.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Brandon Pierce only 4.2 innings before giving up five runs on five hits with four walks. Then Sunday, Zach Hirsch was chased in 1.2 innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits.

The Huskers dropped to seventh place and in danger of missing postseason play, something that the seniors on this team haven't seen.

Up Next - Nebraska gets in-state rival Creighton again, then a series they really can't lose at home against Minnesota.

Northwestern

1-3

Northwestern 2, Northern Illinois 1

Ohio State 3, Northwestern 1

Ohio State 7, Northwestern 1

Ohio State 4, Northwestern 1

Swept at home against Ohio State, scoring three runs in three games. There's not much more that really needs to be said here.

Ohio State

3-0

Ohio State 3, Northwestern 1

Ohio State 7, Northwestern 1

Ohio State 4, Northwestern 1

Ohio State had a mid-week game against Youngstown State cancelled, then went on to sweep Northwestern at home (as they should). Big whoop, you sweep Northwestern and then you're all this and that.

I guess I shouldn't say that, being a Husker guy, when my team lost their series to Northwestern - which just happens to be the only series Northwestern has won this year.

With the sweep, the Buckeyes move into sixth, and have just one more Big Ten series left - at Indiana.

Next up - a tough mid-week two-game series against Oklahoma State, then against Seattle University at home.

Penn State

2-1

Penn State 4, Minnesota 3 (10 innings)

Penn State 5, Minnesota 1

Minnesota 8, Penn State 2

Let's go back to week 4 of the 2012 season. Penn State was 3-11. The previous week they went 1-5. I asked "Is Penn State always this bad, or is this a down year?"

In week 6, they had a 5.20 ERA and were batting .225. Now they have a 4.05 ERA and are batting .252.

Pitching got it done at Minnesota, as Joe Kurrasch went seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs while striking out six. Saturday, Steven Hill went 7.1 innings, giving up seven hits and one run while striking out seven.

Funny thing about Penn State pitching - they've giving up a whopping 206 walks this season, worst in the conference by 25, but they've struck out 344, second only to Minnesota.

They just won their fourth straight conference series.

The Lions are tied for third place, with series against Illinois and at Michigan State to finish the year.

Purdue

1-2

UCLA 5, Purdue 1

UCLA 3, Purdue 2

Purdue 15, UCLA 11

Purdue travelled out west to place a tough series against UCLA and ending up losing the series 1-2. It was their first series loss of the season, and considering the schedule they've played, that's still pretty darned amazing.

Unfortunately, what was not amazing was Purdue's offense in the doubleheader on Saturday. Purdue was held to only three runs over the two games. In the first, UCLA pitcher Adam Plutko went 8.1 innings, giving up one hit and one run in the ninth inning. Plutko retired the first 16 batters he faced.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Purdue lead 2-0, but UCLA scores runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings to take the game and the series.

In the last game of the series, Purdue exploded for 10 runs in the ninth inning. I guess the Boilers had enough of being shut down and kept themselves from being swept in the process.

Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue Earn Weekly Baseball Honors

Player of the Week

David Miller, Purdue

SS - Sr. - St. Louis, Mo. - St. Louis University High

 Hit .600, reached base at a .692 clip and slugged 1.000 to combine for an OPS of 1.692 in Purdue's series at No. 15 UCLA

 Hit safely and scored a run in all three contests, going 4-for-6 with a home run and stolen base in Saturday's doubleheader before going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, a double and two walks in Sunday's come-from-behind win

 Reached safely twice and drove in two runs during the Boilermakers' 10-run ninth inning in the series finale

 Earns his first career weekly accolade

 Last Purdue Player of the Week: Eric Charles (April 30, 2012)

Pitcher of the Week

Brandon Sinnery, Michigan

RHP - Sr. - Worcester, Mass. - Worcester Academy

 Tossed a complete-game shutout in Michigan's win over Iowa on Friday

 Scattered six hits and one walk over nine innings, tying a season high with eight strikeouts

 The complete-game effort marked the fifth of his career and his third this season

 Collects his second career Pitcher of the Week honor and his first this year

 Last Michigan Pitcher of the Week: Brandon Sinnery (April 18, 2011)

Co-Freshman of the Week

Sam Travis, Indiana

1B - Orland Park, Ill. - Providence Catholic

 Hit .500 and slugged .833 to help Indiana take two out of three games from Nebraska over the weekend, moving the Hoosiers into second place in the Big Ten standings

 Recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run in each game, including a three-hit performance in the finale in which he doubled, scored twice and drove in a run

 Combined to score five runs in the series and drive in three, including a two-run homer in Game 1 of the series

 Picks up this third Freshman of the Week award

 Last Indiana Freshman of the Week: Kyle Schwarber (April 30, 2012)

Jimmy Pickens, Michigan State

RF - West Bloomfield, Mich. - Birmingham Brother Rice

 Combined for an OPS of 1.538 to lead Michigan State to a series win on the road against Illinois

 Recorded one hit and scored at least one run in all three games

 Went 3-for-5 in Game 1 of the series, driving in six runs, scoring twice and coming a home run shy of the cycle

 Earns his first weekly accolade

 Last Michigan State Freshman of the Week: Ryan Krill (April 16, 2012)

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