By: Thomas Nelshoppen of The Baseball Zealot
Wednesday was the first day of the 2008 Big Ten Baseball Tournament hosted by first place University of Michigan. The tourney was held in its newly renovated stadium. At least it’s new to me. I remember at last year’s tournament, they were beginning construction on it. At any rate, it’s very nice, looking very first class.
Today it was sunny but very cool and the two higher seeds cooled off their opponents with complete game performances.
Illinois 3 Ohio State 2
Third team All-Big Ten starting pitcher Kevin Manson was simply dominating for Illinois from the very beginning. He struck out the first two Buckeyes he faced and seemed to get better as he pitched. Not only was he unhittable (only 4 hits allowed for the complete game), he also did not allow any walks.
Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Illinois second baseman Joe Bonadonna came through with a solo homerun to left field which proved to be the game winner. I saw Joe’s father rush to the back of the stadium and emerge victoriously with the ball in hand. There’s not a smile wider than a proud father.
Penn State 6 Indiana 1
For a while, it looked like we were going to see another pitcher’s duel with Penn State’s Mike Wanamaker and Indiana’s Eric Arnett on the mound. Through four and half innings, it was 1-0 Nits. Then the wheels started to fall off Indiana’s wagon. In their half of the 5th, Penn State put up 5 hits and 4 runs with help from an Indiana fielding miscue.
Indiana’s just couldn’t get any offense going. Their number three, four and five hitters were a combined 2 for 11 with no runs or rbis.
On the other hand, Wanamaker like Manson, was in control of his game. In his complete game, he allowed one run on seven hits.
Tomorrow, the second day of the tournament, we will say goodbye to our first team when Ohio State and Indiana compete in the Loser’s round. We will also get our first look at teams Purdue and Michigan who by virtue of their position in the standings, received first round byes.
On a personal note, I’d like to say I’m having a blast. It helps that my Illini won today but it’s always nice to see everyone here. I enjoy talking to the parents of the players. Brian DeCaussin of Big Ten Hardball is here, of course. There’s no one who knows more about Big Ten Baseball and I bend his ear when I have a question.
I just went outside for a minute and it’s beginning to rain. Weather permitting, I’m looking forward to another fun day of baseball tomorrow.