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CN Goes to the B1G City: Big Ten Baseball Tournament Day 2

Elimination day for a few teams, one of which will make Husker fans smile!

Well after a late night early morning ending to day 1, at 2:16 am, we are back at the Big Ten Tournament less than 7 hours later. WHERE IS THE CN INTERN WITH MY COFFEE???

#3 Iowa - 5

#7 Purdue - 4

In the first elimination game of the tournament, Purdue jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a solo HR by their best hitter Troy Viola. They remained ahead until the 5th, where Iowa scored 3 runs with only 1 ball leaving the infield. A passed ball, sac bunt (where everyone was safe), and wild pitch plated a run each for the Hawkeyes. Purdue came right back though, after a ground rule double put runners on 2nd and 3rd, and an RBI groundout brought the score to 3-2 Iowa after 5.

The 6th started with some controversy, as Iowa hit an RBI double on what looked like a foul ball by a couple inches. The Purdue 3B immediately jumped up in protest. They reviewed it, but the shot they have wasn’t conclusive. Purdue didn’t take long to respond as they used an error by the Iowa 3B to tie the game at 4-4. (But check out this catch that the Purdue 3B DID make!)

Purdue had something going in the 7th, but their catcher was picked off for the 2nd time in the game. The next batter drilled a ball to the left field wall that would have easily scored him. It ended up being Iowa’s Isaiah Fullard, who had been struggling so far in the tournament, who drove in the winning run for Iowa in the 9th. Iowa, and karma, send Purdue home first.

#2 Rutgers - 5

#6 Penn State - 4

Well this write up changed drastically. It was a pitchers duel for the longest time, with only 3 combined hits and no runs allowed by starting pitchers Nathan Florence of Rutgers, who went 8 innings with 10 Ks, and Jordan Morales of Penn State. Rutgers finally broke through with an RBI double. They would use an RBI single in the 7th and 2-RBI single in the 8th to grow their lead to 4-0. Florence then took a seat and brought in one of their most used stoppers to try and finish the game.

In the bottom of the 9th, Penn State jumped at the opportunity to face the bullpen, after a pair of walks around a double, they had an RBI groundout to make it 4-1. An RBI single cut the lead to 4-2. And a massive bases clearing double by Johnny Piacentino tied the game at 4-4. Piacentino ended the play on 3rd, and Rutgers walked the 8 hitter intentionally (he immediately took 2nd) to get to the 9 hitter. Penn St sent up a pinch hitter who struck out to end the threat.

You could feel the air just leave the sails of the Nittany Lions after that play. In extra innings, Rutgers wasted little time in moving Chris Brito, who reached base via the lead off HBP, over to 3rd with a single, and bringing him in with a sac fly. Penn St offered little resistance in the bottom of the 10th, and will play in the elimination game Saturday at 9 am in a rematch with Iowa.

#4 Illinois - 1

#8 Indiana - 8

Elimination game number 2 of the day, started similar to the first two, with very little action against the starting pitchers. Indiana delivered the first blow in the 3rd, using 3 straight singles to score a run. Illinois had a couple opportunities with multiple baserunners on and 0 or 1 out, but failed to capitalize until they tied the game in the 6th, manufacturing a run using a single, HBP, sacrifice bunt and productive out.

Bunting has been extremely good in this tournament, and made the difference in quite a few games. Indiana actually used the same technique to answer in the 6th, sacrificing via the bunt and sac fly to take back the lead, 2-1.

The game changed entirely in the 8th, lead off batter Bobby Whalen was drilled in the temple, and actually stumbled as he was attempting to get back to the dugout. Indiana then put the pedal to the medal and scored 6 runs on 4 hits and 2 Illinois errors to take a commanding 8-1 lead. Pitcher Bradly Brehmer returned for the 9th inning and made quick work of the Illini on his way to a complete game. Of note, Illinois LF Cam McDonald had a 63 game on-base streak coming into this game, and saw it come to an end tonight. While the conference and NCAA don’t keep official records for such streaks, it was a school record, and damn impressive. So good on ya, Cam.

#1 Maryland - 8

#5 Michigan - 15

Maryland sent out 10-0 ace Ryan Ramsey on 2 weeks rest (Thanks Purdue!) to face the hot Michigan lineup. While Michigan seemed to be going with a bullpen game. Michigan took a quick lead in the 1st inning, on a check-swing, RBI double by 3B Matt Frey. Maryland answered right back in the 2nd with its top 10 nationally ranked offense, smashing yet another double to the wall, and driving the runner in with an RBI single. But they didn’t stop there. A solo HR by their 9 hitter (how many 9 hitters can hit it out of this park??) gave them a short lived lead.

And then the offenses really got rolling! One of the Big Ten’s top pro prospects, Clark Elliott, was walked to start the bottom of the 3rd, and promptly stole 2nd. 2 errors followed by 2 base hits led to 4 unearned runs to put Michigan back in front 5-2 after 3. Over the next two innings, both pitching staffs took a beating. Each team scored 5 runs apiece, to make the score 10-7 in favor of Michigan after 5.

In the 7th, Maryland hit a solo home run, but Michigan answered with on of their own, and then one upped them with a run scored on a safety squeeze. That brought Elliott to the plate again and he hammered a ball out to right center for a 2 run HR. Elliott is the early leader for Tournament MVP. And the 4 combined home runs in a game ties the park record. After all the dust settled, it was 15-8 Michigan, which ended up being the final score.

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Well, we didn’t set the record for the latest game like on Thursday night (aka Friday morning), but we did get the second latest! I’m already tired on Saturday… The tournament is down to 6 teams going into Saturday, with Rutgers and Michigan in the drivers seats. And with the condensed schedule, Saturday’s four games could leave us anywhere from two to four teams remaining. So one more marathon day ahead of us!