May 20, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Less than 12 hours after the final out of day four of the 2001 Big Ten Baseball Tournament, hosted by The Ohio State University at Bill Davis Stadium, No. 4 seed Penn State and No. 6 seed Michigan took to the field in an elimination game. Seeing its first action since ousting Purdue Thursday, Michigan remained in the tournament field with a 10-2 win over the Nittany Lions Sunday. The first pitch thrown at 9:06 a.m. made the game the earliest start in the five-year history of Bill Davis Stadium.
Torrential rains suspended games the first three days of the tournament, pushing back play to a fifth day.
Michigan will play Minnesota at 4:05 p.m. following a match-up between Ohio State and Minnesota. Penn State is eliminated from the tournament.
Rich Hill picked up the win for the Wolverines, improving his record to 3-5. He went 7.2 innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs. He struck out nine and walked eight. Justin Nash took the loss for the Nittany Lions, falling to 4-6 for the season. In 4.1 innings of work, Nash allowed five hits, five runs (four earned), walked four and struck out three.
Nash immediately put himself in a bind, issuing walks to second baseman Scott Tousa and designated hitter Mike Sokol before third baseman Brock Koman blasted his 14th home run of the season. Koman lifted a 1-1 offering from Nash over the center field fence to give Michigan an early 3-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions answered with two runs in the top of the second inning. Like his counterpart, Michigan pitcher Rich Hill issued free passes to the first two batters of the inning, right fielder John Richmond and shortstop Willie Melendez. With two outs, second baseman Chris Derenzo slapped a single to right field to plate both runners.
Walking eight batters total, Hill reached the 100-pitch mark on ball four to Chris Wright with one out in the fifth inning. The Wolverines added two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tousa led off the inning with a single to center field. He moved to second on a groundout, advanced to third on a passed ball and came home when PSU shortstop Melendez mishandled a roller off the bat of Koman. After a single to left field by catcher Jake Fox advanced Koman to third base, Jordan Cantalamessa lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to give Michigan a 5-2 advantage.
Michigan put the game out of reach in the seventh inning, extending its lead to 10-2 with five runs. Sokol chopped a grounder to Derenzo at second base, beating out the throw after Derenzo couldn’t get a hold of the ball initially. Following a walk to Koman, Fox doubled to left field to score Sokol. After Cantalamessa was intentionally walked, first baseman Nate Wright singled to center field to plate Koman and Fox. A throwing error by center fielder Zach Smithlin allowed Cantalamessa to score from first. Wright moved to second base on the throwing error and crossed home plate when right fielder Gina Lollio singled to center field.
Penn State head coach Joe Hindelang
“Coming in, teams were hitting just .208 against (Hill). We certainly lowered that. Nobody is hitting him. The only way you beat him is if he beats himself. He walked a lot of batters, but he pitched through that. He shut down our bats.”
Michigan head coach Geoff Zahn
“I felt all along if Rich Hill could get through the first few innings, he would settle down and be tough to beat. He struggled early and gave up four walks in the first two innings. Fortunately, we came out with three early runs and were able to help him through that. Our kids adapted well to the altered story.”