By Thomas Nelshoppen of The Baseball Zealot
Yesterday, we said goodbye to Ohio State but today, teams were dropping like flies from Big Ten Tournament competition. This started with the first game between Illinois and Indiana which was an elimination match between the two teams.
Indiana 14 Illinois 7
Despite the score, it was actually quite an exciting game. Indiana continued with trend of scoring early and often by putting 3 runs up on the board in the first inning. This was done by their simple strategy of a) get Jason Hervey on base and b) have Josh Phegley drive him in. For the game, Hervey was 3 for 4 with 4 runs scored and Phegley was 4 for 4 with 2 homers and 6 RBI.
Illinois played with heart though. Down 9-1, they came back with successive three-inning rallies to bring the score within two, 9-7. Dominic Altobelli and Ryan Hastings both garnered three hits in the game to help the cause. But it was too little too late and Indiana scored five more in the 8th to drive the point home.
Indiana 11 Penn State 8
With no time to rest, Indiana took on Penn State in another elimination game. This had to be the most exciting game so far in the tournament. Down 7-4 going into the top of the ninth, and runners on first and second, Penn State’s Rob Yodice doubled scoring one. One out later, Cory Wine doubled driving in two, tying the game 8-8. Rick Marlin induced an E-6 scoring the go-ahead run.
But the Hoosiers had other ideas. They loaded the bases with three base hits by Tyler Rogers, Michael Earley, and Ethan Wilson. With the bases loaded, Tyler Cox hit a grand slam to win the game.
Give credit to the Hoosiers’ #8 and 9 hitters, Wilson and Cox. For the game, they were a combined 7 for 10 with 9 rbis .
Michigan 6 Purdue 1
Finally, the two undefeated teams in the tourney faced off. And for once, Purdue could not get any offense going. Chris Fetter held them to one run in seven innings while striking out 10 batters.
As Illinois did last night, Purdue pitching held the Michigan offense for the early innings but as the game wore on, so did their pitching. Michigan’s Leif Mahler keyed a 3-run rally in the bottom of fifth with a 2-run base hit. The Wolverines added two more in the 8th for insurance.
With Illinois and Penn State out of the picture, tomorrow’s schedule brings up an Indiana-Purdue matchup with the winner of that game taking on Michigan Saturday night.
The Hoosiers are looking strong having scored 35 runs in their last three tourney games. But I’m wondering how long this magic can last. That can be true for all three teams as we’re getting deep into the rotations now. Right now, Michigan has the distinct advantage for the reason of being in the winner’s bracket.