The final series of the college baseball regular season are upon us, with the top four teams in the Big Ten squaring off against each other. Indiana has won eight straight games, seven of which were conference games. Illinois and Nebraska have won seven consecutive each, each having swept their last two conference series.
Let's just go ahead and project that Penn State, Northwestern and Purdue won't be making the postseason.
BTW, some of the material here comes directly from media releases. I could re-write these like most regular media people do, but why?
Illinois at Nebraska
Most interesting series of the weekend. Illinois comes into Lincoln with a perfect 9-0 Big Ten road record. Both teams have stayed neck and neck over the season; Illinois losing series to Indiana and Michigan, while Nebraska lost series against Iowa and Northwestern (you're scratching your head, now, right?).
Both teams have been relentless in their winning, simply making the plays that need to be made. What will be most interesting about this series is which team makes those plays to take second seed in the Big Ten tournament.
Thursday, May 15 – 6:35 p.m. (CT)
Probable Starters: RHP Sinclair (8-1) vs. RHP Johnson (5-5)
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (HuskersNSide)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Saturday, May 17 – 1:05 p.m. (CT)
Probable Starters: LHP Kubat (4-2) vs. RHP Kravetz (6-1)
TV: BTN (Same day tape delay at 5 p.m.)
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (BTN2Go.com - Live)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Notes from Nebraska:
Over the Past 10 Games for Nebraska
• Nebraska was 9-1, including a 3-0 home record and a 8-1 Big Ten record
• Nebraska’s offense worked 43 walks and was HBP five times, while striking out 43 times.
• Pat Kelly hit .444 (16-for-36) with five doubles and two home runs
• Pat Kelly notched 18 of the Huskers’ 60 RBIs, while
• Blake Headley hit .342 (13-for-38) with two doubles and one homer
• Pat Kelly had six multi-hit games and Blake Headley had five
• Five Huskers had double-digit hits, including Pat Kelly (16), Blake Headley (13), Ryan Boldt (13), Michael Pritchard (12), Ryan Boldt (12) and Austin Darby (10).
• Nebraska pitchers totaled 66 strikeouts, while walking 29
• Nebraska posted a .299 batting average, while holding opponents to a .212 average
• Closer Josh Roeder threw 5.0 innings of scoreless relief over five appearances and earned four saves
• Nebraska’s pitching staff posted a 2.07 ERA, while opposing pitchers were at a 5.93 ERA
• Nebraska outscored opponents 61-27
Notes from Illinois:
Comparing Wins and Losses
In Illinois' 30 wins this year, the Illini are hitting .301 and have a 2.12 ERA, while in their 17 losses, they are batting .232 and have a 5.29 ERA.
Winning the Close Ones
After starting the season 3-6 in one-run games, Illinois has won its last eight games decided by one run. The Illini are now 11-6 in one-run games and have 15 comeback victories on the year.
UI Pitching in NCAA Stat Rankings
In the latest NCAA stat rankings, Illinois ranked seventh in walks allowed per nine innings (2.35), eighth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.88), 29th in WHIP (1.26) and 51st in ERA (3.21), which is the third-best earned run average in the Big Ten. The Illini lead the Big Ten with 110 walks allowed followed by Penn State in second at 132.
Minnesota at Indiana
Indiana needs only win a game and they win the Big Ten regular season.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Thursday, May 15 - 8:05 pm ET (TV: BTN)
Sr., LHP #23 Joey DeNato (11-1, 1.91) vs. Sr., RHP #40 Alec Crawford (4-1, 4.01)
Friday, May 16 - 8:05 pm ET (TV: BTN)
So., RHP #21 Christian Morris (4-3, 2.15) vs. Jr., RHP #28 Ben Meyer (4-3, 2.43)
Saturday, May 17 - 3:05 pm ET (TV: BTN)
Sr., LHP #27 Brian Korte (2-0, 2.43) vs. Jr., RHP #44 Neal Kunik (2-1, 2.31)
Notes from Indiana: (subtitled: why they're kicking everyone's asses)
• Senior Dustin DeMuth leads all NCAA active hitters - regardless of division with 302 career hits.
• Senior LHP Joey DeNato leads all NCAA Division I active pitchers with 35 career victories and ranks second in career innings pitched (345.0).
• Junior Sam Travis ranks ninth among all NCAA active hitters with 159 career RBI.
• Travis also leads the Big Ten with 448 chances in the field this season and has yet to commit an error.
• Junior Kyle Schwarber ranks 10th among active Division I players with 169 runs scored.
• The Hoosiers' team ERA of 2.30 ranks ninth in the country this season
• Over the last 16 games, the IU bullpen has pitched a total of 56.0 innings, giving up seven earned runs on 35 hits and 58 strikeouts.
• In Big Ten play, Indiana has outscored its opponents by a 145-43 margin.
Northwestern at Ohio State
Hey, maybe Ohio State could win a series.
Thu.: LHP Tanner Tully (6-2, 1.79 ERA) vs. RHP Brandon Magallones (3-7, 5.81)
Fri.: RHP Travis Lakins (1-3, 2.53) vs. LHP Reed Mason (1-4, 4.40)
Sat.: RHP Greg Greve (6-4, 3.48) vs. RHP Nick Friar (5-0, 4.38)
Michigan State at Penn State
Michigan State needs only a single game to clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa at Purdue
Iowa needs only one win to make the Big Ten tournament. They should be able to do that, but the key here is that the Spartans and Hawkeyes are fighting to not be the team that finishes #8 in the conference.
Kansas at Michigan
Michigan will play a two-game series against Kansas starting Saturday. The Jayhawks are currently 33-21 overall, with a RPI of 38.