The Big Ten Conference won the inaugural Big East-Big Ten Challenge by taking 15 of the 24 games played between the two conferences. The Challenge was held Feb. 20-22 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Big Ten jumped out to a 5-3 lead on Day 1 with wins from Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue. The Spartans won the first game of the Challenge, knocking off Connecticut, 4-2. The Wolverines followed with a 6-5 victory against South Florida on a walk-off hit by senior Kenny Fellows. The Buckeyes then shut out Notre Dame, 2-0, while the Boilermakers outlasted Cincinnati, 11-10, and the Wildcats took down Georgetown, 5-3. Also on Friday, Illinois defeated Iowa, 8-3, in an intraconference matchup.
The Big Ten and Big East split Saturday’s eight-game interconference schedule with wins from Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State. The Hoosiers’ first win of the season came in a 12-4 decision over Georgetown, while the Wolverines improved to 2-0 with a 6-1 triumph over Cincinnati. The Golden Gophers picked up a 5-4 win over West Virginia, and the Buckeyes took down Connecticut, 6-4. Michigan also won a non-challenge game over Purdue, 4-3 in 10 innings, while Penn State defeated Northwestern, 9-1.
On the final day of the event, the Big Ten won six of eight games to put the conference’s final win total at 15. Illinois out-slugged West Virginia, 17-10, while Indiana bested South Florida, 9-7. Michigan improved to 4-0 on the year with a 4-2 win over St. John’s, while Ohio State out-lasted Cincinnati, 6-5, and Penn State earned a 6-1 win over Seton Hall. In an intraconference contest, Minnesota recorded a 7-2 win over Michigan State.
At the conclusion of the event, nine Big Ten players were named to the All-Tournament team by CollegeBaseball360.com, while 11 more received honorable mention recognition.
Three Ohio State sophomore pitchers, each who pitched 6 or more shut out innings received All-Tournament honors. Friday night start Alex Wimmers received one of the four starting pitcher sections on the first team after his 6 inning, 7 strikeout performance. Classmate Drew Rucinski, who pitched the last three innings of the shut out of Notre Dame, was selected as one of two relief pitchers. Ruckinski also pitched 3.1 innings in the challenger finale against Cincinnati Sunday, relieving Dean Wolosianski. Rucinski again came in form the pen and held the opposition scoreless.
The third sensational sophomore, Andrew Armstrong picked up where Wimmers left off. On Saturday against Connecticut Armstrong pitched 6.1 scoreless innings picking up the win. His start landed him as a honorable mention starting pitcher.
It wasn't just the pitchers who received accolades for their performance over the weekend. Selected as one of two designated hitters on the first team, junior Ryan Dew picked up the honor after going 6-for-10 to start the season at a blistering .600 batting average. Dew reached base seven times in total, as his six singles were matched with a walk. Dew also scored two runs over the weekend, both coming in Saturday's game.
Complete All-Tournament team