May 27, 2007

Big Ten - Ohio State: Big Ten Champions

Minnesota is down to its final three outs.

Vanderwege flies out. One out, two to go for the Golden Gophers. Baran singles to center, and the tying run is at the plate. It's McCallum, and he grounds to first, allowing Baran to get to second base.

Bryan Jost is up for Minnesota. Two outs. An 0-2 count. Man on second. He's the tying run ... and it's a ball. The Ohio State fans can barely believe it.

2-2 count.

Another ball. It's a full count. Hale is really dragging this out.

And Jost hits it to the shortstop. Baran runs for third and Jost is thrown out at first. Three outs for Minnesota, and Ohio State has just won the 2007 Big Ten tournament.

Hale gets the win with 1 and 1/3 innings of relief - a shame that Luebke couldn't get it, really, considering his outstanding performance until his last inning of work.

So the Buckeyes win out in this tournament, never falling into the loser's bracket. The team that barely made it in now has an automatic ticket to a regional. That's the beauty of tournaments.

Continue reading "Big Ten - Ohio State: Big Ten Champions" »

Big Ten - Ohio State on the verge

Bottom 8th - And just like that, it's again a two-run game.

Perlnar walks Eric Fryer, then leaves the game. Kyle Carr is now pitching for Minnesota. With two outs, Carr intentionally walks designated hitter Jason Zoeller. Michael Arp comes in to pinch-hit for right fielder Ryan Dew and ... doubles to left field, scoring both Fryer and Zoeller from second and first base, respectively. Ohio State has regained control of this game.

4-2, Ohio State. Three outs left for Minnesota.

Big Ten - Minnesota tries another late-inning rally.

Top 8th - After 7+ innings of silence, Minnesota has finally decided to get its bats going. Luebke has been almost perfect through the first seven innings, hitting one batter but only allowing four hits before this inning.

Jeremy Chlan, the hero in today's game against Penn State, singled to get on base with one out and scored from second on a double by Dan Lyons. 2-1, Ohio State. Minnesota hasn't been far behind Ohio State in the hits column, but it just hasn't been able to build off of each hit to score a run.

... And Minnesota has just scored again on a single from Mike Mee up the middle. Dan Lyons scored and it's now tied at 2. Two outs, man on first.

Continue reading "Big Ten - Minnesota tries another late-inning rally." »

Big Ten - Championship game cools down

Middle 6th - We've been scoreless since the bottom of the first. Perinar has settled down after his poor first inning, tallying five strikeouts and only walking the one batter in the first inning. Minnesota coach John Anderson obviously wanted to keep him in and settle him down, and it's worked. But will Minnesota be able to overcome that rough first inning, or is it going to be their downfall, like the first inning has often been in this weekend's tournament?

More than just bragging rights are on the line here - Ohio State will not make the tournament if they don't win today - with only a 15-15 record and a sixth-place finish in the Big Ten leading into this weekend, I can't see them even being considered for a bid. Minnesota is now a 40-game winner, and if it doesn't win, it still has a chance for an at-large bid - though if Ohio State wins and Minnesota gets an at-large bid, I see Michigan's at-large bid chances fading. The Wolverines won 39 this season and won the regular-season title but went two-and-out this weekend. If Minnesota wins and gets an at-large bid, the Wolverines will have a better shot for an at-large bid. And Penn State? Judging from their performance this weekend, they should have a better shot than Michigan at an at-large bid. But I think the Wolverines will definitely get a nod before the Nittany Lions.

So this game seems to have implications for teams beyond the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers - and Minnesota has just three more innings for an attempt at a comeback. Ohio State is in control, just like it has been for the entire weekend.

Big Ten - Ohio State capitalizes on pitching mistakes

Cory Luebke is pitching for Ohio State, while Gary Perinar is starting for Minnesota.

Bottom 1st - Ohio State wants it badly ... and shows it early. Perinar is not doing well at all in this start and not giving Minnesota a chance to win this - he hits the first batter he faces, Jacob Howell. Then, on two wild pitches during the same at-bat, Howell gets second and third base. So on an at-bat that didn't even count as an at-bat, Howell is now on third base with no outs. Tony Kennedy strikes out, but Howell is still on third with just one out. And ... Perinar has another wild pitch. Howell scores. What a giveaway run, and Ohio State is on the board early, 1-0. Perinar is visibly shaken. Three wild pitches, three bases.

Continue reading "Big Ten - Ohio State capitalizes on pitching mistakes" »

Big Ten - Championship game to start at 12:50

Originally supposed to start at 12:05, the game between Ohio State and Minnesota will now start at 12:50. Not too long for those teams to wait, considering Minnesota had to wait almost two and a half hours in the rain yesterday before the game was suspended and a half hour before the game even started. Updates to come.

Big Ten - Minnesota Pulls Through

Bottom 11th - It's in extra innings, and neither team was able to break through in the 10th - Penn State had a double to start off the inning, looking like they were going to be able to continue their 10th-inning success, but left the runner stranded on second with three straight outs. Minnesota went 1-2-3. Star pitcher Drew O'Neil has been in since the ninth for the Nittany Lions, and he seems to be doing his job so far. Even on another rainy day, the tension here is palpable and it's obvious that whoever loses has just caught a bad break, not played bad baseball.

Minnesota is up with the middle of the order, and Tom Steidl hits to the left of the right fielder to make it to first and tally Minnesota's first hit of these extra innings. Kevin Carlson lays down a sac bunt, moving Steidl to second. One out. Man in scoring position with one out, and Penn State doesn't look flustered. But if you had Drew O'Neil on the mound, would you really be nervous right now? Anyway, Jeremy Chlan is up - he came into the game last inning, replacing second baseman Derek McCallum.

Chlan hits it ... almost in the same spot as Steidl's hit ... and it's a double, Steidl scores and Chlan reaches second. No matter - the Golden Gophers have won the game and earned a rematch with Ohio State. Penn State can't believe it. Drew O'Neil gets the loss, Penn State glumly lines up to shake hands and the Minnesota fans are going wild. It took awhile to get there, but the final of the Big Ten tournament is exactly the way it's always been - Ohio State vs. Minnesota, the two legendary baseball powerhouses in the conference.

That game is supposed to start soon, despite another wet day ... so more updates as they come.

Final score: Minnesota 4, Penn State 3, 11 innings.

Big Ten - Minnesota's Last Shot

Bottom 9th - The second-ranked Golden Gophers have one chance left before they are out of the tournament, and the Nittany Lions are three outs away from playing Ohio State in the championship game after losing their first game and playing in the loser's bracket all weekend. Penn State has definitely fought hard these past few days, while Minnesota's only loss was against Ohio State, and either team that goes against Ohio State today deserves it ... but Penn State has put on more of a show.

And ... Kevin Carlson starts out the inning with a single and moves to second on a sac bunt. One out, man on second. He moves to third on a fielder's choice ... two outs, man on third. Minnesota's championship hopes all depend on Carlson and the next batter, Matt Nohelty. Nohelty is 2-for-4 today, not too bad for a man whose at-bat right now needs to be a hit.

Nohelty hits it and ... Carlson is running home, he makes it, Nohelty is safe on first and the Golden Gophers have just tied the game in the ninth inning, two outs. Wow.

And Dan Lyons hits it to the shortstop, who whips it to second. Nohelty is out, but no matter - the game is tied 3-3 and they're going into extra innings.

Penn State was in this position yesterday - Michigan tied with two outs in the ninth inning, but Penn State came back with a home run in the 10th to seal the game. It'll be interesting to see how they react in this extra-inning game.

Big Ten - Penn State vs. Minnesota Resumed

Almost seventeen hours after yesterday's intended start time, we're again beginning play here at Fisher Stadium. The game was suspended in the middle of the seventh yesterday and pushed back to today at 10:00, which also effectively pushed back the championship game to 12:05 and 3:35 (if necessary) today.

Penn State is leading, 3-2, in the top of the eighth. In the first inning of play today, Minnesota couldn't do anything - they went 1-2-3 against new pitcher Matt Ogrodnik.

More updates soon.

May 26, 2007

Big Ten - Rain Delay ... Again.

The seventh-inning stretch will be a little longer than originally planned - there's another rain delay. Penn State just beat the incoming rain by scoring two runs in its last time at bat, but Minnesota won't have a chance to answer until the rain rolls through. It's the second time this game that rain has stopped play, and it's taken almost three hours to play six and a half innings (counting both rain delays).

I'm not sure how long it will be, but it's looking like we're going to be sitting here for awhile.

Big Ten - Penn State Trying to Beat the Rain

Top 7th - It looks like the umpires here at Fisher Stadium are thinking about postponing or calling the game because of rain that's quickly rolling in - but Penn State is trying to tie or take control of the game before the rain comes. Mike Deese singles, then moves to second with a Rick Marlin walk. Scott Kelley hits to move Deese to third.

0-2 count ... and Garrett Field hits a single to give Penn State a run - the score is now tied, 2-2, in the top of the 7th. The top of the order is up, bases are loaded, one out. There's a little bit of action in the Minnesota bullpen, but not much.

Penn State takes the lead - on a close throw to home that's called safe. Marlin scores. The Minnesota coach comes out to argue with the umpire, but to no avail. The Penn State contingent in the stands is going wild. There are now runners on second and third, two outs. 3-2, Penn State, with rain rolling in - they've come through when it counts.

Big Ten - Minnesota Takes Control

Bottom 4th - Thanks to an error and some solid hits, Minnesota is now holding a 2-1 lead over Penn State. After singles by Kyle Baran and Bryan Jost, an error by Penn State third baseman Mike Deese helped to put both runners in scoring position. A sac fly by Derek McCallum scored Baran and tied the game for the Golden Gophers - and Jost scored two batters later on an RBI single by Matt Nohelty.

It's still cloudy and drizzling, and it's looking like there might be at least one more rain delay if the weather gets worse. But for now, Minnesota is leading by one.

Big Ten - Penn State Scores First

Top 3rd - Garrett Field, who has been a big player in this weekend's Big Ten tournament, just doubled to left field to get on base and get the Nittany Lions' first hit of the game. The top of the order is up, and Matt Cavagnaro singles ... Field scores from second to give Penn State an early lead.

1-0, Penn State.

Big Ten - Back in Action

Bottom 2nd - The Penn State vs. Minnesota game started a little less than 30 minutes after its scheduled start - it's still raining a little, but not enough to postpone the game any longer. I'm guessing that this late start will also push back the championship game at 7:05, but if this game is short, everything else could still go as scheduled.

Everyone's still taking cover under the overhang at Fisher Stadium, leaving half of the stands wet and unoccupied. For the second straight day, both teams are playing in drizzling rain and a rather chilly breeze.

Minnesota's Mike Mee is the DH today due to injury, so the Golden Gophers have switched up their lineup a bit to accommodate the switch.

And a foul ball from Rick Marlin just flew into the seats - rather rare at Fisher Stadium, since there's protective netting surrounding the majority of the stands and most of the foul balls fly over the top of the old roof, sometimes hitting cars in the parking lot or falling into the construction site - but a fan caught it, holding it up Major League-style, and gets no applause.

More updates soon.

Big Ten - Rain Delay

We've been in a rain delay for about ten minutes - the game has been pushed back to 4:00 p.m. after a constant rain that has left the stands damp and empty. Rain delays have been all too common at Fisher Stadium this season, and it seems only fitting that the Big Ten tournament is also affected.

It looks like the players and umpires are starting to prepare for the game, so it'll hopefully start in about ten more minutes.

Big Ten - Penn State vs. Minnesota

The Penn State vs. Minnesota game is scheduled to start in ten minutes, despite a steady rain and thunderstorms earlier today. The weather hasn't been the greatest all weekend, though that's to be expected in Michigan, but hopefully, the rain will hold off and we'll get to see some baseball.

Both the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers are fresh off of marathon games yesterday, Penn State with its back-to-back nine-inning elimination games and Minnesota with the 11-inning game against Ohio State yesterday that lasted over four hours. (I believe that four hours, six minutes was the exact time announced yesterday night.)

The biggest factor today will be - which one of these teams are burned out? One will be eliminated, the other will go on to play Ohio State in the championship game tonight.

More updates soon.

May 25, 2007

Big Ten - 11th Inning

Both teams temporarily lost their bats in the tenth inning - three up, three down for both sides. It's the 11th inning, and Minnesota's up to bat. Minnesota left fielder Tijl Vanderwege is on second, advancing on a sacrifice bunt - and catcher Kevin Carlson walks. Runners on first and second, one out. ... But the next two batters can't do anything, striking out and hitting a grounder right to first. Nothing comes out of the top of the inning, and they're still tied at 9.

Continue reading "Big Ten - 11th Inning" »

Big Ten - Extra Innings

It's the bottom of the ninth, and it looks like we'll be going into extra innings. Both teams have continued their offensive surges, and the score is tied, 9-9. Minnesota scored three in the sixth to break the 5-5 tie and once in the seventh to make it a 9-5 game - but Ohio State tallied two runs in the seventh and two in the eighth for the present score. There have been almost no 1-2-3 innings here - in fact, I don't remember when the last one was - because both teams are feeding off of each other's mistakes and hitting the ball like mad. (I wonder what this game would be like if one of the teams were trying to hit off of Penn State's pitching staff. Actually, that'll happen tomorrow - so I guess we'll see then.)

And it's the end of nine, we're still tied at 9, and it's going to be at least one more inning.

There's no way that this could be called a boring game - the teams are just so evenly matched today that it's impossible to predict who's going to come through in extra innings.

Big Ten - On the Offensive

It's been a wild past few innings here - now that the dust has cleared (literally), the score is 8-5, Minnesota. Some of the highlights include:

Top 4th - Third baseman Nate Hanson hits a 2-run home run, also scoring Mike Mee, to give Minnesota its first lead of the game. 2-1, Minnesota.

Bottom 4th - With two outs, Ohio State strings together a series of singles to score one run and tie the game, 2-2.

Top 5th - On a full count, Minnesota first baseman Bryan Jost homers, a solo leadoff shot, to again give Minnesota the lead. But that's not all - more singles score two more runs. Both teams are starting to hit like crazy - this is definitely a departure from the past few games, where scoring has been low and the hits weren't being strung together for runs. Minnesota's winning, 5-2.

Bottom 5th - A costly error by Minnesota shortstop Dan Lyons has given Ohio State two runs, one off of the error and one the next batter later. Three runs in all during the inning - again, capitalizing on the small hits - and the game is again tied, 5-5. This back-and-forth game is new for the tournament, where most of the games have either been lopsided victories or low-scoring games.

Big Ten - Ohio State vs. Minnesota

In the nightcap of this three-game day, Ohio State is playing Minnesota in the winner's bracket. Ohio State has already defeated Penn State and Michigan, while Minnesota has won against Illinois. Whoever wins tonight's game will be in the championship game, and tonight's loser will play Penn State - the winner of that game will be the winner of this game's opponent tomorrow night for the Big Ten crown.

Bottom 3rd - It's been largely uneventful through three innings, and this is a huge departure from every other game this tournament, where the eventual winner has struck early in the game with a big inning (or multiple innings). It's been quite obvious this weekend that seeding and regular-season finishes don't matter, as Ohio State and Minnesota look dead-even in this game so far ... but were divided by a significant amount in the regular season standings.

But after two, consecutive Ohio State strikeouts, Jacob Howell doubles and is sent home on a single by Tony Kennedy. Ohio State 1, Minnesota 0. Kennedy steals second - and gets third on an error - but he can't get any farther before the third out.

OSU is now leading by 1.

Big Ten - Illinois Eliminated

Bottom 9th - Illinois went 1-2-3 last inning, and Penn State did the same in the top of the ninth. Minus the top of the eighth, this game really has been uneventful.

Looking around, there are some Michigan players in attendance. They're no longer in uniform, instead wearing Michigan Baseball t-shirts, but maybe they're just wondering how the team who just knocked them out will fare against the team that they could have played.

Anyway, Shawn Roof just grounded out. One out. And ... Ryan Hastings and Nick Stockwell just flew out to center, one after the other. Three outs, another 1-2-3 inning for Illinois. Story of this game, I guess.

Illinois is eliminated from the Big Ten tournament, and Penn State has now made it through three games in the loser's bracket after losing its first game. The Nittany Lions are fighting hard - and if they fight hard enough tomorrow morning, they'll have a shot at the championship.

Ohio State vs. Minnesota is at 7:05 tonight. This is a big day for baseball at Fisher Stadium, but it sure doesn't look like it - it's obvious that, now that the home team is gone, attendance will be a mere fraction of what it was earlier.

Big Ten - Penn State's Big Inning

Top 8th - Right after an Illinois pitching change, Illinois relief pitcher Jake Toohey walked Penn State second baseman Matt Cavagnaro to load the bases. The men on second and third were starting pitcher Scott Shaw's responsibility, and designated hitter Robert Yodice hit a hard double to score both - and then, on an error, reached third. All three Penn State runners scored, leaving Yodice on third. Penn State is again winning, 4-2.

And one batter later, catcher Joe Blackburn hit a single to score Yodice. Penn State now has a 5-2 lead.

Illinois has six outs left to score at least three runs - or else Penn State will have eliminated two teams today.

Big Ten - Illini Fight Back

Bottom 6th - Illinois has taken control of the game with two quick runs. Illinois powerhouse Lars Davis had his first hit of the game, a single, but advanced to second on an error by the Penn State first baseman. Brandon Wikoff, who was on first when Davis hit, made it to second on the single and scored on the error to tie the game. Two batters later, Dan Webb's single to center field scored Davis, making the game 2-1, Illinois.

Will Penn State be able to go eighteen straight innings and still come out with a win this afternoon? The game's still close, but the Nittany Lions don't have much time left.

Big Ten - Penn State vs. Illinois

Right after Penn State defeated Michigan, it had to turn around and play another nine innings in another must-win game. This time, it's against Illinois - who defeated Iowa but lost to Minnesota to fall into the loser's bracket.

Penn State didn't use much pitching last game, with only a starter and a closer, so it should be able to use some more of its dominance on the mound against the Illini.

Bottom 5th - And overall, it's been a pretty boring game. Penn State again struck early, this time in the second, on Mike Deese's RBI single. It's been mostly 1-2-3 innings since then - but we'll see what happens.

Big Ten - Crunch Time for Michigan

Bottom 10th - In the most exciting game of this Big Ten tournament to date, Penn State is leading Michigan in the tenth inning, 6-5. Michigan right fielder Doug PIckens is at the plate, full count.

And he strikes out looking on a pitch that seems to be borderline outside, though it could go either way. The crowd boos. Pickens walks back to the dugout, but not before yelling at the umpire in disgust. One out. Derek VanBuskirk is up, the athlete whose big hits this game has already helped to bring Michigan to this point. VanBuskirk hits to the second baseman, a hit that automatically makes everyone gasp because it looks like a routine grounder - but the Penn State second baseman bobbles it, sending VanBuskirk to first.

Cislo hits a bouncer to the pitcher, who sends it to first base. VanBuskirk to second, two outs.

And Roblin grounds out. Three outs, and the Wolverines are two-and-out in this Big Ten tournament.

The first seed is the second team out of the tournament.

Final score: 6-5, Penn State, 10 innings.

Big Ten - Penn State Ahead Again

Top 10th - And just like that, the Nittany Lions are back in the lead. A solo shot by Cory Wine in the 10th has made it 6-5, Penn State. The Wolverines will need to make up another run, and they're working from behind again, just like in all but two innings of this tournament.

Big Ten - Michigan Rallies Back

Two outs in the ninth, and the Wolverines are trying to continue their crazy rally.

Nate Recknagel's at the plate, Michigan's power hitter. he hits a ball into the outfield - between left and center field. Rose sprints to third, Recknagel reaches first. Two outs. Runners on first and third. 5-4. Michigan's tournament hopes and, possibly, NCAA hopes are on the line. Putnam, their cleanup hitter, is up. This couldn't be written any better.

And Putnam sends a long ball to right center! Rose flies home. The score is tied 5-5, two outs in the ninth inning. Michigan has scored three runs in this inning and still has a man on first and second. Adam Abraham, who homered in yesterday's loss, is now at bat.

The crowd is still clapping, the Michigan players mobbing Rose like they just won the championship. Abraham flies out to center field, one batter too late for Penn State.

It's now tied, 5-5, and we're going into extra innings. Michigan's temporarily lengthened its tournament run with a 2-out, ninth-inning rally.

Big Ten - Michigan's Last Stand?

9th - It's the bottom of the ninth and Michigan is just three outs away from being the second team out of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions are still winning, 5-2. Left fielder Derek VanBuskirk, second baseman Kevin Cislo and right fielder Brad Roblin are up this inning - then it's back to the top of the order.

Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" is blaring through the sound system, and it's true - the Wolverines better pray for some big hits this inning if they plan to be around for the 3:35 game.

VanBuskirk hits a ground ball to center, reaching first base. Cislo is up - and he hits a grounder that the Penn State shortstop should have caught, but it went through his legs and ... VanBuskirk is now on second, Cislo is on first. No outs. Roblin is up, and the crowd is getting back into it, clapping in steady rhythm, waiting for this senior playing in what might be his last game at home to do something special.

And it's a wild pitch - both runners advance a base. Roblin hits it to first - he's out - but VanBuskirk scores. One out, and it's 5-3 Penn State. The tying run is now at the plate - leadoff hitter Jason Christian. Christian hits it to second, allowing Cislo to score. Two outs. 5-4, Penn State.

Senior Eric Rose is at the plate. He's a senior, co-captain, and he and Michigan coach Rich Maloney are having a chat before he goes to the batter's box. The count is 2-2. He hits a ball to the shortstop that takes a bad hop, bouncing over the shortshop's head to the wild cheers of the crowd. This is ridiculous - Rose reaches first. Two outs, runner on first, the winning run at the plate.

Big Ten - Penn State Won't Stay Down

Top 6th - This might be a little premature, but it looks like Michigan has finally collapsed.

The score was 4-2, Penn State. Rick Marlin singled to left field, then reached second on a sacrifice bunt.

Here comes the Michigan-collapses part.

Garret Field hit a long ball out to right, and while Michigan right fielder Doug Pickens ran for the ball, Field slipped on the dirt halfway between first and second. He fell on the ground, his helmet flying to the ground, and rolled twice. If Pickens could have thrown it, Field would have been out at second - but Pickens was still fumbling for the ball out in right field. Field got up and kept running, rounding second and beating PIckens's late throw to third. A triple? After tripping and falling on the ground?

Penn State scored on the play to make it 5-2. And the media, sitting up here on the top row of the stadium, just looked at each other in disbelief.

It's still pretty early, but that might have just sealed the game.

Big Ten - Fisher Stadium Gets Gloomier

The Wolverines are at bat, and they're again facing a situation that they rarely experienced in the regular season - losing. This team is used to fighting from the start and building on a comfortable lead, not giving up runs at the start and recovering from a deficit.

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Michigan center fielder Eric Rose singled to left center and stole second base, adding to his Michigan school record stolen base total. He broke the career record earlier this season at home, and his stolen bases come in handy when he gets in scoring position with two outs. But not this time - Michigan first baseman Nate Recknagel, one of the team's usual power hitters, hits a weak single to first that is the third out. End of the fifth, Penn State is still winning, 4-2.

The fans are already starting to leave - people in blue-and-yellow jackets are exiting the stadium, purses and bags in hand. The small crowd is now even smaller, though the rain has finally stopped and some people are venturing down into the lower, uncovered stands. Yesterday, there was definite fan tension and it was obvious that everyone was waiting for the big hit, the big victory. Today, it's uncharacteristically quiet. It seems like even the fans are starting to give up on their No. 1 seed.

Big Ten - Penn State Ahead Again

Top 5th - Ten minutes after the Wolverines tied the game, the Nittany Lions struck again. Penn State's Matt Cavagnaro singled to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Michigan starting pitcher Mike Wilson intentionally walked Joe Blackburn, a play that, with two outs, seemed questionable at the time - they didn't need a double play to get out of the inning, which might have seemed like a good excuse had there been runners on first and second with just one out - but, with runners on first and second, Cory Wine hit a long ball to right field that bounced off the wall, and as Michigan right fielder Doug Pickens scrambled after the ball, both Cavagnaro and Blackburn scored to make it 4-2, Penn State.

The intentional walk might have effectively sealed the Wolverines' fate in this tournament, but it's still too soon to tell. Michigan still has four innings to make up for two runs, but they've been playing from behind all tournament and, last game, managed too little too late.

Big Ten - Wolverines Bite Back

Bottom 4th - It's been a quiet past three innings here in Ann Arbor, but it's starting to get interesting here in the fourth. First baseman Nate Recknagel and designated hitter Zach Putnam both had hits over the head of the second baseman, and third baseman Adam Abraham's fielder's choice moved the runners to second and third. One out.

Catcher Doug Pickens hit to the second baseman and was out at first, but not before Recknagel scored to give Michigan its first run of the game. 2-1, Penn State, with two outs.

And left fielder Derek VanBuskirk hit a screamer to left center field, easily scoring Putnam. The small Michigan crowd is standing and clapping to the fight song - and Michigan is not losing for the first time in this tournament. The score is tied, 2-2.

The Wolverines have tied it up after allowing themselves to get into a hole during both games. The top of the first has proved to be the most problematic inning for Michigan as it allowed three runs last game and two this game, but with these two runs, the two teams are even with four innings to go.

Each team has just twelve more outs before one is kicked out of the tournament. More updates soon.

Big Ten - Penn State Scores Early

Top 1st - Barely twenty minutes into the game, Penn State has already tallied two runs. Michigan catcher Doug Pickens dropped a third strike and first baseman Nate Recknagel dropped the throw to first, allowing a strikeout to become a man on first. A 2-RBI single quickly made it 2-0, Penn State.

Top 2nd - The Wolverines couldn't do anything with their first at-bat, but quickly shut down the Nittany Lions in the top of the 2nd with two excellent defensive plays - almost identical running grabs and mid-air throws to end the top of the second.

The Wolverines are at the plate in the bottom of the second, again attempting to recover from a two-run deficit.

Big Ten - Michigan vs. Penn State

Only the most loyal of fans are here today - it's cold, rainy and early on a Friday afternoon. The stands are maybe one-fourth full, and the home fan section has significantly fewer people than it did just fourteen hours ago. Michigan and Penn State are playing in the loser's bracket, with the loser of today's game going home. With the No. 1 and No. 3 seed playing each other, this means that a high seed will be going home early.

More updates as the game begins.

May 24, 2007

Big Ten - Michigan's Last Chance

In the leadoff spot, Christian just hit into a fielder's choice. Roblin is out at second, but Christian is at first and Cislo is at third - the cursed position for the Wolverines, it seems, in today's game. One out, Rose at bat. He's swinging hard at the ball, and if he makes contact, it looks like it could be a power hit.

And Rose hits a grounder to short that looks like it could be a double play for a quick second - Christian is out at second - but Rose beats the throw to first by a significant amount and CIslo scores. 4-2, Ohio State. Two outs.

Recknagel at bat. A short fly ball that's caught by the third baseman. The Wolverines are down and out.

Final score: 4-2, Ohio State.

Big Ten - Two On for Michigan

The crowd behind the home dugout is getting louder and more desperate, clapping in a steady rhythm during every at-bat and loudly booing called strikes. Cislo is first up, and he singles to right center. And ... Roblin hits a lofting ball, almost to the same spot, that the Buckeyes again can't get. The crowd is on its feet, clapping and cheering, and there are now Wolverine runners on first and second with no outs - and the top of the order is up. Christian is at bat.

1 run, 11 hits, two men on base, no outs. They've already missed many chances to score. Will they take advantage of this?

Big Ten - Ninth Inning

It's the ninth inning here at Fisher Stadium. The lights are on, the home fans are still here (despite trailing by three runs) and ... Ohio State just got its third out to end the top of the ninth. The Buckeyes went 1-2-3 and Jenzen effectively pitched 1 and 1/3 innings to end the Buckeye scoring threat. Now, the question is - can Michigan do something with its last chance?

Big Ten - Michigan Pitching Change

Top 8th - With two outs and a runner on first, Putnam gave up a single to Howell that put runners on first and second. The hit finally caused Maloney to replace Putnam after four runs and ten hits allowed. Ben Jenzen, sporting a newly shaved head, is now pitching for the Wolverines. He's been very unpredictable this season and is either very outstanding or not good - not usually in the middle. He can get the Wolverines out of a jam, like he just did to get the third out here in the eighth (on a long fly to left field) or he can cause it - like in his last outing, against Iowa in last Saturday's second game, where he gave up four runs in an inning where he hit the batter (twice) with the bases loaded. We'll see which night it will be for him tonight - but it might be too late for him to save the game.

The score is still Ohio State 4, Michigan 1. Michigan is in the bottom of the eighth, one out, with five outs left to score at least three runs. The hitting is almost equal - 10-9, Ohio State - but Michigan's lopsided 9-1 hits-to-runs ratio and its inability to capitalize when runners are in scoring position has been the difference in tonight's game.

Scratch that - Michigan now has only one more inning to make a game out of this. The Wolverines just went 1-2-3 to make it the top of the ninth.

Big Ten - Buckeyes Strike Again

Top 7th - And the Buckeye fight song is playing through Fisher Stadium's loudspeaker again after centerfielder Matt Angle scored for Ohio State to regain its three-run lead. After Angle's single to left, he reached second before Fryer's screaming drive to Christian proved to be too much. Angle took third and easily ran home on the play, giving the Buckeyes a run with only one out. Runners are now on first and second.

Big Ten - Michigan's Back In It

Bottom 5th - Cislo hit a single to right center to start the inning for the Wolverines, then on the fourth ball of shortstop Jason Christian's at-bat, the ball hit Ohio State catcher Eric Fryer and careened into the Michigan dugout. Cislo took third. Center fielder Eric Rose flew out to third, making it impossible for Cislo to tag up and score. And the inning is done, finished by first baseman Nate Recknagel's grounder to short that easily ended the inning.

It's now the sixth inning, and the score is still 3-1. The fans are getting restless, cheering at everything they can but not having much to celebrate. The sun is starting to set here - it won't be fully dark until about 9:30 - and the lights are starting to come on. Fans are lining the wall along the first and third base lines, waiting for foul balls and a good play by the home team.

Rose just made a running catch at the warning track, almost 400 feet from home plate, to prevent a Jason Zoeller hit from making an impact for the Buckeyes. Sixth inning, one out, a man on first.

Big Ten - Michigan Home Run

Bottom 4th - Michigan is on the board for the first time this game. Third baseman Adam Abraham homered to left field, sending it far over the 330-foot sign and raising the Fisher Stadium crowd to its feet. Michigan is now outhitting Ohio State, 6-5, but the score is still Ohio State 3, Michigan 1 with one out. Pickens the next hitter, singled to left center. The crowd is definitely awake now - though they can't clap to the Michigan fight song together or in time, a chant of "Let's Go Blue" is prevailing throughout the inning.

VanBuskirk hit into a double play, ending the inning. Michigan now trails by two runs heading into the top of the fifth.

Big Ten - Buckeyes have the momentum

Top 3rd - The fans here in Ann Arbor are ready to go wild - but they haven't yet had their chance. In the second inning, with two outs, left fielder Derek VanBuskirk and catcher Doug Pickens were on first and second when second baseman Kevin Cislo hit a long ball to left field. The crowd cheered in anticipation of Michigan's first run - but Ohio State left fielder Jacob Howell made a running catch, silencing the crowd and ending the inning. Putnam has allowed five hits in just two innings, rare for him, but it seems like he might be settling down going into the third inning.

The score is still Ohio State 3, Michigan 0.

Big Ten: Ohio State Scores

Top 1st - Ohio State just scored on a Justin Miller single that went through the outfield. Michigan shortstop Jason Christian bobbled it as it went up the middle, allowing a runner to score. 1-0. Zoeller's fly ball to the right of right fielder Brad Roblin allowed another run to score, and Tony Kennedy's line drive to right center just scored another run. Two outs in the first inning, and Ohio State is on the board, 3-0. Putnam and Michigan coach Rich Maloney are having a chat - we'll see if they can get out of this.

Big Ten: Michigan vs. Ohio State

We're at Fisher Stadium for the Michigan - Ohio State game. Again, it's muggy and 90 degrees - the scoreboard says 95, but like the rest of this stadium, it probably needs repair - and the crowd is mostly parents with their little kids. The stands are only about half full, maybe only 600 or 700 people, but there's still five minutes until the opening pitch. But the media presence here today is huge, and the white media tent behind the stadium has great food - fruit, salad, tortellini, cheese-filled breadsticks.

Michigan just received its regular season Big Ten championship trophy to loud cheers from the home crowd.

Zach Putnam is Michigan's starting pitcher.

We're about to start - more updates soon.

May 23, 2007

Big Ten: Iowa vs. Illinois

The Big Ten tournament has officially begun, on a muggy, 85-degree day that is uncharacteristic for baseball in the North until this first weekend of the postseason. First up - Iowa and Illinois, the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed in a game that is theoretically the most evenly matched.

Continue reading "Big Ten: Iowa vs. Illinois" »

Big Ten Tournament Preview

The Big Ten tournament is back in Ann Arbor for the second straight year after Michigan claimed its 33rd Big Ten regular-season crown during the last weekend of conference play. But during today's Big Ten press conference at the University of Michigan, all six head coaches agreed that with one hot streak, any of the teams could emerge as the victors this weekend.

Continue reading "Big Ten Tournament Preview" »

The Slogger... Posts By Site More Baseball Archives...