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Big Ten Week in Review

By: Corey Barnes
Indiana Hoosiers (4-10) 
 
The Hoosiers dropped two of three games at Cal State Northridge over the weekend. Indiana has lost five of its past six games. Freshman Chad Clark leads the team with a .419 average. Three starters have ERAs below 3.00 and sophomore Matt Dearden leads all hurlers with a 1.50 ERA and 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Indiana returns to play with a two-game set at San Diego on Tuesday and Wednesday before playing Loyola Maryland over the weekend. The Hoosiers are in the midst of eight games in California.
 
Illinois Illini (7-6)
 
The Illini won three of four games over the weekend at the Nike College Showcase in Eugene Oregon. Their best win was a 2-1 decision over #18 Oregon Ducks. The win was Illinois’ first over a ranked team this season. Junior Kevin Johnson went the distance on Friday, allowing four hits and an earned run while striking out five. The next day they dropped an 8-2 decision to #22 Oregon State. The blue and orange will be back in action this weekend with two games each against Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.
 
Iowa Hawkeyes (4-8)
 
Iowa is in the midst of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. They have games against Bucknell, Long Island, Jacksonville State, and Army in the next four days at Winter Haven, Florida. The Hawkeyes already played Illinois State (10-6 loss) and Eastern Illinois (2-1). After the road trip ends the Hawks will play their first true home game on March 21.
 
Michigan Wolverines (7-9)
 
Michigan played in the LSU Tournament this past weekend and struggled mightily, dropping three of four games. The Wolverines were twice defeated by #13 LSU, 6-0 and 6-4. Their lone win of the series was a 6-5 decision against Notre Dame which snapped a five game losing streak. The Maize and Blue salvaged the series by scoring four runs late against the Irish and securing the victory. The offense is paced by sophomore Michael O’Neill who has started all sixteen games in the outfield and is hitting .394. U of M will return to action on Friday when they play in the Coastal Carolina Tournament.
 
Michigan State Spartans (7-7)
 
Michigan State won two of three games last weekend in Port Charlotte, Florida, including a 15 inning affair with Seton Hall. The game was scoreless after nine innings and when Seton Hall plated three runs in the top of the 15th it seemed the game was over. Michigan State led off their half of the frame with a single and three walks to get on the scoreboard. Andy Johnson struck out with the bases loaded. Andrew Carpenter then pinch hit for Tim Simpson and delivered a two run single to tie the game. Anthony Cheky singled to right to score John Martinez and secure a Spartan victory. Both teams combined to use 13 pitchers who threw a total of 496 pitches. Sparty will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio this weekend for a three game set with the UC Bearcats.
 
Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-8)
 
Minnesota dropped two of three games over the weekend in the midst of their longest homestead of the year. The Gophers are currently in a stretch of 27 straight games at the Metrodome where they are 6-6 so far. The offense is paced by redshirt sophomore Dan Olinger who is hitting .404 and has played in all 15 games this year. He is also slugging an intimidating .526 and leads the team with 23 hits. The club’s best pitcher is TJ Oakes. The junior right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA. In 25 innings he has struck out 16 opponents while walking five. The Gophers return to action with a two-game set against Kansas State before playing host to Cal Poly over the weekend.
 
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-6)
 
The newest addition to the Big Ten is playing well. The Huskers recently split a four game series against #21/18 California. After a shaky start to the season that included three straight losses, Nebraska bounced back to win their next four games. The team’s best hitter is Michael Pritchard who is plugging away with a .444 average. The pitching staff’s combined ERA is 4.03 which seems high but is competitive considering their opponents’ ERA is 6.08. Nebraska has a matchup with South Dakota State coming up before a three game homestand against Louisiana Tech.
 
Northwestern Wildcats (4-9)
 
Northwestern recently lost a three-game series with UIC in Chicago two games to one. The offense is led by redshirt junior Zach Morton who is hitting .353 on the young season. The Wildcats have four starters hitting over three hundred so far. Morton also has the most innings pitched of any member of the staff (27) and is 0-4 with a 4.33 ERA. This weekend the Wildcats travel to Winter Haven, Florida for six games in five days.
 
Ohio State Buckeyes (8-6)
 
The Buckeyes recently played in the Coastal Carolina Tournament where they defeated Marist and Toledo and dropped a pair to the host school. Jaron Long has been pitching well for Ohio State; he holds a 2.01 ERA over 22.1 innings and no decisions. Long leads the team with 21 strikeouts and only one base on balls allowed. First baseman Josh Dezse has been one of the best hitters for the Bucks, clubbing .373 with a .608 slugging percentage. His four homers lead the team as well. OSU will play their first games in Columbus this weekend when Austin Peay comes to town.
 
Penn State Nittany Lions (3-11)
 
Penn State has struggled mightily this year; their 5-4 win over UAB snapped a six game losing streak. Senior Jordan Steranka is the only regular starter hitting over .300 (.356) and no one on the team has more than nine RBI. The three regular starter all have ERAs over five; John Walter – 5.40, Steven Hill – 5.61, and Cody Lewis – 7.56. The Lions travel to Greenville, North Carolina this weekend to play East Carolina in a three game set.
 
Purdue Boilermakers (11-1)
 
Purdue is the only B1G team to receive any votes in the most recent USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches Poll. They received 61 votes and are ten behind #25 NC State. The Boilermakers have won seven straight games including a three-game sweep at Murray State where they outscored the Racers 40-5. Senior Eric Charles has played in every game and is hitting .481. Six starters are hitting .400 or better and five players have double digit RBI. Senior Blake Mascarello has made six appearances for the Black and Gold. He is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 17.1 innings of relief work. Purdue has 14 seniors on their roster and are benefiting from their veteran presence. The Boilers have a midweek game against Missouri State in Springfield before travelling to Wichita State for a four-game series.