Chris Webb

Minnesota vs. Penn State to be Relocated

Minneapolis –The Gopher Baseball team’s planned return to home outdoor baseball at Siebert Field will be delayed as Minnesota’s three-game Big Ten series against Penn State scheduled for this Friday-Sunday, April 6-8 will be relocated. The Gophers staff is currently working on finalizing options, and we will provide additional details, including the new location and game times, when available.

Minnesota (18-10, 2-1 Big Ten) will now host its Big Ten home-opening series against Iowa on April 20-22.

Ohio State’s Wednesday Game Versus Kent State Cancelled

Columbus, Ohio –Due to predicted weather this week across the Midwest, schedule updates have been made for the Ohio State baseball team. The midweek contest vs. Kent State Wednesday has been cancelled due to freezing wind chill temperatures around game time in Columbus. No makeup date has been announced.

Iowa-Ohio State Series Altered

Iowa City, Iowa –Due to the projected cold temperatures this weekend, the University of Iowa baseball team’s weekend series against Ohio State has been moved to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The series was originally scheduled to take place from Friday through Sunday. Saturday’s series opener is now scheduled for a 2 p.m. (CT) start followed by a 1 p.m. start Sunday and a 3 p.m. start Monday.

Wednesday’s Penn State-West Virginia Game Postponed

University Park, Penn. –Due to continuing inclement weather in the area, Tuesday’s Penn State baseball game against West Virginia in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park has been postponed to a date to be determined, Penn State head coach Rob Cooper announced Tuesday morning.

Fans with tickets for the West Virginia game can redeem them at the State College Spikes box office for any other 2018 Penn State baseball game. The scheduled 90’s Night promotion has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 24 during the Bucknell game.

Penn State next hosts St. Bonaventure Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.. At every Wednesday game, fans can enjoy wings at the ballpark at the following prices: Three wings for $3, six wings for $5.50 and 12 wings for $10.

Season, flex and single-game tickets for the 2018 season, presented by Family Clothesline, are available online at GoPSUsports.com or by calling the Medlar Field at Lubrano Park ticket office at 814-272-1711.

Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates on Penn State Baseball. Follow on Twitter at @PennStateBASE and Facebook at Penn State Baseball.

Tuesday’s UIC-Northwestern Contest Cancelled

Evanston, Ill. –Northwestern’s Tuesday contest versus UIC has been canceled due to inclement weather conditions. There is no date set for a reschedule as of yet.

The Wildcats return to action at Miller Park on Friday, April 6, for a 3 p.m. CT contest against Michigan.

Week 7 Weekend Observations

While weather throughout the Midwest may be more appropriate for early February, it is in fact April. As Big Ten teams hope warmer, more baseball-friendly weather is on the way, each of the 13 baseball programs have played at least one conference series with the chase for the championship under way.

With the college baseball season nearing its midpoint, here’s what was gathered from the most recent round of weekend play, as slowly but surely the cream is rising to the top.

Hoosiers keep humming along

A close 6-5 victory opened the weekend series, before Indiana handily defeated Butler, 13-0 and 10-3 to sweep the Bulldogs. With the three wins, Indiana ran its record to 20-5 through the first seven weeks of the season. Tabbed as the preseason favorite by Big Ten coaches, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Indiana is off to a strong start, but the consistency Chris Lemonis’ club has shown deserves recognition. Indiana has yet to suffer a losing weekend and only once has the team dropped back-to-back games. Indiana’s 2.68 ERA leads the conference, while its .286 average ranks third. Checking in at No. 11 in this week’s NCBWA poll, IU has done nothing to suggest they are not one of the country’s top teams, and should be in the mix to host a regional at the end of the season. There may be teams and players who are grabbing more attention at the moment, but with a deep lineup, a depth on the mound and a team that can play clean defense, the baseball team in Bloomington is living up to lofty expectations and handling everything presented in front of them.

Minnesota’s strong March finish

Minnesota didn’t have the strongest start to March, going 1-2 against Pac-12 teams in the Dairy Queen Classic it hosted, before being out scored 14-6 in the first two games of the succeeding series against Creighton. But since a 15-1 win in the series finale against Creighton, Minnesota (18-10) won eight of 12 games to end the month, winning three consecutive series, defeating TCU and Nebraska on the road before a 9-8 win on Friday and 6-3 victory on Saturday led to taking two of three at home this weekend against St. John’s. One would believe John Anderson would have been thrilled in the preseason to take those results. TCU has been to the last four College World Series, Nebraska is the reigning Big Ten champion, and St. John’s was ranked in the preseason. March appeared to be a month that could either doom the Gophers or set them up for a big season. For a team rather green on the mound, the end-of-month success should build conference, and the results should still be strong enough to put the team in the mix for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, where their veteran-laden and deep lineup can carry a team.

Freshman arms continue to excel

Three freshmen pitchers made the Weekend 10, and the strong showings by rookie pitchers weren’t an aberration. A look at statistics throughout the Big Ten reveal three true freshmen among the top four leaders in ERA:

#1 Michigan LHP Ben Dragani: 1.38 ERA in 32.2 innings

#2 Minnesota RHP Patrick Fredrickson: 1.78 ERA in 35.1 innings.

#4 Northwestern LHP Quinn Lavelle: 2.10 ERA in 34.1 innings.

In additional to those three, who allowed one run while pitching a combined 19.1 innings, the weekend saw Purdue’s Trent Johnson join the Boilermaker rotation and shine to cap a sweep of Penn State, while Rutgers already calls on freshmen Harry Rutkowski and Eric Heatter to round out the Scarlet Knight rotation. Indiana has seen promise out of Tommy Sommer, Ohio State likes what they have in Griffan Smith, and Minnesota has Joshua Colliver, Ryan Duffy, Max Meyer and Sam Thoreson to join Fredrickson as a foundation for the future. Seemingly, everywhere one looks around the Big Ten, there is a freshman or two capable of providing big innings or lead a pitching staff.

Northwestern’s tough run continues

After Lavelle stymied Maryland’s lineup, to lead Northwestern to a 4-0 win on Friday, the Terrapins captured the weekend series by winning the next two games, 6-5 and 4-3. After two weekends, the Wildcats’ Big Ten record sits at 1-5, tied with Michigan State and Penn State at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. But the 1-5 record might not be a fair indicator of the team Spencer Allen has. Take a look at Northwestern’s conference results so far.

Northwestern’s Big Ten losses:

March 23, 5-4 to Illinois

March 24, 5-4 to Illinois in 11 innings

March 25, 4-2 to Illinois in 10 innings

March 31, 6-5 to Maryland in 10 innings

April 1, 4-3 to Maryland.

Runs allowed in Big Ten play: 24

Runs scored in Big Ten play: 22

A few breaks here or there could have Northwestern near the top of the conference, not at the bottom, meaning no conference team should look at the team’s current record and think an easy weekend is in store.

Iowa continues to be Iowa

It’s becoming a spring ritual: question how Iowa will replace a dominant core of players, then watch the Hawkeyes find a way to fight into the top-half of the Big Ten and have an NCAA Tournament appearance be a real opportunity. While Iowa didn’t exactly slow down Illinois’ potent offense, Iowa allowed 32 hits and 20 runs in three game, the Hawkeyes left Champaign with two victories against a ranked Illini team. The weekend win came a week after splitting a shortened set against Indiana. It wasn’t long ago when Iowa dropped five consecutive games and stand 8-6 on the season. But Rick Heller’s group has gone 8-3 since, with two headline-grabbing weekends. Iowa’s tough 2018 slate doesn’t let up, Ohio State, who is 19-8 on the season, visits Iowa City this weekend, then back-to-back series on the road at Nebraska and Minnesota take place. But if the first two weekends of conference play are any indication of what’s to come, Iowa will be in a position to compile a pretty impressive resume.

Catchers turning in strong seasons

With the All-America campaigns Illinois’ Bren Spillane, Nebraska’s Scott Schreiber, and Ohio State’s Noah McGowan are compiling, it’d be fair to call this the year of the first baseman in the Big Ten. And as previously mentioned, the strong seasons nearly a dozen freshman pitchers are putting together deserve praise. After a look at box scores from the weekend, the backstops who are on the receiving ends pitches are collectively having strong seasons in the Big Ten. Leading their teams in hitting are:

Sr. Tyler Cropley, Iowa (.356)

Jr. Ryan Fineman, Indiana  (.347)

Jr. Ryan Sloniger, Penn State (.289)

Jr. Nick Dalesandro, Purdue (.337)

Juniors Jacob Barnwell (.289), Jesse Wilkening (.299), and Eli Wilson (.356) are also enjoying strong seasons at the plate, respectively for Ohio State, Nebraska and Minnesota.

While the batting averages are good, so too have the throwing abilities for many.

Barnwell has thrown out eight of 23 runners on the bases. Dalesandro has gunned down 11 of 24 runners, Fineman has thrown out 14 runners against 12 successful swipes, Rutgers’ Nick Matera has caught seven of 19 runners attempting to steal a base, and Wilson has nabbed five runners in 12 tries.

The Weekend 10

As the midpoint of the college baseball season nears, while they may still be freshmen by class, this year’s Big Ten newcomers are turning in performances beyond their years. This season has witnessed first-year players spur Michigan’s turnaround and lead the revival of the Scarlet Knights.

This weekend, freshmen turned in some of the most impressive weekends, including the first double-award winner of the season. The Weekend 10 is led by four freshmen who turned in performances that made opposing coaches miserable knowing they have multiple years to come facing them, as well as a handful of sluggers who are making their case to be all-americans.

Ohio State Soph. OF Dominic Canzone

A big weekend in Ohio State’s first Big Ten series showed why Canzone is leads off the conference’ top hitting unit. In three games against Nebraska, Canzone collected seven hits in 14 at-bats, scoring five runs, driving in four and stealing three bases. Canzone has needed just 76 games to reach 100 career hits.

Michigan State Fr. RHP Mason Erla

Erla continues to shine in a season where a cloud has hung over the Spartans. Earl’s latest gem helped Michigan State to its first conference victory, leading the Green and White to a 6-0 win over Rutgers on Sunday. Erla pitched seven innings and allowed four hits, with three walks and six strikeouts. Moving to 4-1 on the year, Erla is responsible for more than half of MSUs seven victories.

Indiana Jr. C Ryan Fineman

Fineman continued a strong season, a junior campaign which has him batting a team-leading .342 through IU’s 20-5 start. In a three-game sweep of Butler, Fineman recorded seven hits in 12-bats, drove in six runs, and through out two Bulldogs on the bases.

Michigan Fr. 1B/OF Jesse Franklin

Michigan enters April with the nation’s longest active winning streak, extending their run to 12 games with a weekend brooming of Delaware. Leading the Wolverines charge against the Blue Hens, Franklin went 5-for-11 with a double and home run, driving in three runs while scoring another three.

Purdue Fr. RHP Trent Johnson

Purdue recorded its first sweep during the opening weekend of Big Ten play since 1985, and Johnson’s gem was the leading act in the clincher. In State College, over five innings, Johnson held the Nittany Lions to one hit, in Purdue’s 6-0 victory. The rookie struck out six batters and walk three, in the 79-pitch effort.

Northwestern Fr. LHP Quinn Lavelle

Lavelle pitched as fine of an outing as any Big Ten pitcher has this season, leading Northwestern to its first Big Ten victory in the Wildcats’ series-opener at Maryland. Tossing a shutout, Lavelle scattered four hits and struck out eight batters to one walk in Northwestern’s 4-0 win. This week’s pitcher and freshman of the week, Lavelle sports a 3-2 record alongside a 2.10 ERA over 34.1 innings.

Ohio State Sr. 1B Noah McGowan

McGowan helped lead a high-powered Buckeye attack to 25 runs in their weekend victory over Nebraska. In Greg Beals’ cleanup spot, the senior notched six hits, drove in five runs, and scored four runs. McGowan picked up a double in each game and ended hit his sixth home run of the season in the finale.

Indiana Jr. RHP Pauly Milto

After Indiana eeked out a 6-5 victory in their series opener against Butler, Milto made sure the Bulldogs had no bite as IU cruised to a 13-0 victory. Over six innings, Milto scatted six hits, issued two walks and struck out three batters. The victory moved Milto to 4-2 on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.25.

Nebraska Sr. 1B Scott Schreiber

A big weekend at the plate from Schreiber wasn’t enough for Nebraska to leave Columbus with a series win, but it was impressive enough for Schreiber to earn this week’s player of the week nod. Schreiber hit a home run in each of the Cornhuskers three games against the Buckeyes as part of an 8-for-14 weekend. The senior first baseman added a double as he drove in six runs and crossed home five times.

Illinois Jr. 1B Bren Spillane

Iowa was the latest team to run into a scorching hot Spillane. Though the Hawkeyes grabbed the weekend series in Champaign, Spillane was hard to contain, picking up two singles, a double, and three home runs over nine at-bats, before drawing four walks in the weekend finale. Spillane added five RBI and six runs to his eye-popping season statistics.

March 30 Power Rankings

The second week of Big Ten play is here, with Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue joining their peers in a race for the conference crown.

Many believe pitching and defense wins championships, but what can disrupt pitching an defense? A threat on the bases. This week we highlight each clubs leader(s) in stolen bases as the calendar turns to April and the race for the postseason begins in earnest.

Previous power rankings: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4, Week 5

#1 Indiana (17-5, 1-1) Last Week: 1

Soph. OF Matt Gorski– For the second season in a row Gorski is IU’s top threat on the bases with eight steals in nine attempts. Last year, as Indiana’s first baseman, Gorski paced the club with 15 swipes, only being caught three times.

#2 Illinois (16-5, 3-0), LW: 3

Jr. 1B Bren Spillane– This season it’s Spillane’s turn to show surprising speed from a first baseman. While the junior’s Big Ten-leading 11 home runs have grabbed national headlines, Spillane is 12-for-16 in stolen base attempts, standing second in the conference in steals.

#3 Ohio State (17-7, 0-0) LW: 2

Soph. OF Dominic Canzone– A year after stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts, Canzone is right on pace with six steals in seven attempts. A team powered by extra base hits, Canzone is one of only three Buckeyes with at least three steals.

#4 Minnesota (16-10, 2-1) LW: 4

Jr. OF Ben Mezzenga– Minnesota has the Big Ten’s top average at .299, and have drawn the most walks, but are squarely in the middle in steals with 24. Mezzenga is responded for one-fourth of them, with six in eight attempts.

#5 Michigan (13-11, 3-0) LW: 6

Soph. OF Christian Bullock– Michigan is again a top-three club in terms of stolen bases, even though the team returned only three starters. Filling one of the outfield vacancies, Bullock leads the club with 10 steals in 12 tries and sports a team-leading .324 average.

#6 Iowa (14-8, 1-1) LW: 7

Soph. INF Lorenzo Elion– Iowa stands next-to-last in the Big Ten with 16 stolen bases. But no team has more players with stolen bases than Iowa’s 12. Elion leads the Hawkeye dozen with three in four attempts, as nine players have one stolen base and two with two.

#7 Rutgers (13-9, 2-1) LW: 5

Jr. OF Jawuan Harris– Stolen bases are nothing new to Harris, as he again leads the Scarlet Knights. Suspension has limit the outfielder to 13 games, but he has eight steals in nine tries, running his career total to 68 in 84 attempts.

#8 Nebraska (13-12, 1-2) LW: 8

Jr. INF Angelo Altavilla Sr. INF/OF Zac Repinski– The Huskers round up the rear of the Big Ten with only 13 stolen bases. On a positive, the Huskers have been thrown out a Big Ten-low three times. Altavilla and Repinski’s 3-for-3 efforts lead the team.

#9 Maryland (12-13, 0-0) LW: 10

Sr. OF Zach Jancarski– A balanced attack has five Terrapins with at least four stolen bases through the teams first 25 games. Jancarski leads the pack with six against one caught stealing.

#10 Purdue (11-10, 0-0) LW: 12

Jr. C Nick Dalesandro– The tools which has Dalesandro drawing the attention of professionals includes his speed, evident by his prowess on the bases. As he has thrown out 11 runners in 23 attempts, on the bases himself the backstop has stolen eight bags in nine tries.

#11 Penn State (7-12, 1-1) LW: 11

Soph. OF Mason Nadeau– Nadeau leads a group of seven Nittany Lions who have recorded a stolen base this season. Although he only has 10 hits on his second season in State College, Nadeau has recorded six steals without being thrown out.

#12 Northwestern (7-12, 0-3) LW: 9

Soph. 2B Alex Erro– Erro is emerging as a player who can do it all for Spencer Allen, adding a stolen base element to his sophomore season. Erro leads a strong Wildcats presence on the bases with 11-for-12 showing in steals, as the WIldcats average 2.5 steals a game.

#13 Michigan State (6-17, 0-3) LW: 13

Soph. OF Bryce Kelley– It’s been a tough go in 2018 for the Spartans, but the team’s ability on the bases cannot bear blame. MSU leads the Big Ten with 56 steals in 66 attempts, led by Kelley’s 17 steals in 20 attempts. The Big Ten leader is emerging as one of the country’s best, one steal behind the nation’s leader, after nabbing 13 bags a year ago.

Rutgers-Michigan State Series Schedule Altered

East Lansing, Mich.– Due to inclement weather in the forecast for the weekend, Michigan State baseball’s weekend schedule with Rutgers has been altered with a doubleheader on Friday and a single game on Saturday at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.

The Spartans and Scarlet Knights will now play a doubleheader on Friday at 12:05 p.m., with a single game scheduled for Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

MSU opened a 12-game homestand at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field on Wednesday, and this weekend is the Spartans’ first full Big Ten series at home.

Any further schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com.