Minnesota To Host 2004 Big Ten Baseball Tournament
May 23, 2004
PARK RIDGE, IL - For the fourth time in the last five years, the University of Minnesota will serve as host of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament after clinching the regular-season League Championship on Saturday. The Gophers will welcome Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Penn State to Siebert Field for the 2004 event, which will be held next week from Wednesday, May 26, through Saturday, May 29.
For the third straight year, the Big Ten title was on the line as Minnesota met Ohio State in the final regular season series for both teams. The Gophers entered the final weekend of League play needing only two home victories over the Buckeyes to win the championship and the hosts responded by winning two of the first three games, clinching the crown by defeating OSU, 7-2, in the second contest of the Saturday doubleheader. Sunday's series finale was cancelled, as UM ended the Conference slate at 21-10 to claim its third straight Big Ten Championship, a feat the program had not accomplished since the 1968-70 seasons. Ohio State finished the year at 19-12 in League play to capture the No. 2 seed in the Tournament, as both teams earned first-round byes and will begin play on Thursday, May 27.
The remaining four teams in the 2004 Big Ten Tournament were also finalized over the weekend, as the final seeding came down to the last game of the year on Sunday. Michigan (19-13 in Conference action) entered the weekend tied for fourth in the League standings with Penn State (17-15) but claimed three of four contests against the Nittany Lions to vault into a tie for third place with Michigan State (19-13), which split four games against Northwestern to knock the Wildcats out of the postseason event. The two in-state rivals split their season series earlier this month, but the Wolverines boasted a better record against the top six teams in the final standings to earn the No. 3 seed, while the Spartans were slotted at No. 4. Purdue (17-14) won two of three contests in a rain-shortened set against in-state foe Indiana to clinch the No. 5 seed while the Nittany Lions were seeded No. 6.
The 2004 Big Ten Tournament will open on Wednesday, May 26, as No. 4 Michigan State will battle No. 5 Purdue before No. 3 Michigan takes on No. 6 Penn State. The top two seeds begin play on Thursday, May 27, as No. 2 Ohio State will face the highest-seeded winner from Wednesday and No. 1 Minnesota will square off against the lowest-seeded winner from Wednesday. The Tournament winner is granted the Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.