Big Ten Baseball Season in Review
June 6, 2008
Michigan finished the 2008 baseball season as conference champions for the third consecutive year, also earning the Big Ten Tournament title and its fourth straight bid into the NCAA Championship. In the process, the Wolverines set a record for wins in a Big Ten season with a 26-5 mark during the conference slate.
Michigan boasted a No. 17 national ranking and a 45-12 overall record at the end of conference tournament play, earning the right to host an NCAA Regional for the first time since 1986. The bid also marked the first time since 2001 that a Big Ten school served as a regional host site and just the fourth time overall since the NCAA began naming regional sites after host schools in 1999.
The Wolverines were unable to make it out of regional action as they fell to Arizona, the No. 1 seed in the region, 4-3, on May 31, before they were eliminated by Kentucky, 12-6, on June 1.
The NCAA bid was the 21st in Michigan's history, while the Big Ten Tournament title was the squad's eighth, and the regular-season championship was the team's 35th. Michigan leads the Big Ten in regular-season titles and is tied with Ohio State and Minnesota for most tournament crowns. Only Minnesota (28) has more NCAA Championship appearances than the Wolverines.
Michigan also took home three major conference awards in 2008, as head coach Rich Maloney was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, senior Nate Recknagel was named the conference's Player of the Year, and junior Zach Putnam was named Pitcher of the Year. Northwestern hurler Eric Jokisch was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Big Ten teams and individuals also broke several conference records this season. Team records broken during the conference schedule include hits (Indiana, 368), doubles (Purdue, 73), walks (Penn State, 141), stolen bases (Iowa, 75), assists (Indiana, 378) and double plays (Indiana, 37). Individual season records set this conference season include runs (Kyle Hudson, Illinois, 40), RBI (Josh Phegley, Indiana, 45) and stolen bases (Caleb Curry, Iowa, 26), while Josh Lindblom of Purdue tied the single-season saves mark (9) and Landon Nakata of Penn State tied the record for assists (108).