Big Ten Baseball Season in Review
Aug. 2, 2011
llinois and Michigan State shared the 2011 Big Ten baseball title with 15-9 conference records, while Illinois swept through the postseason bracket to earn the conference’s tournament championship and the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
For the third straight year, the conference title was decided on the final weekend of regular-season play. The Spartans clinched a share of the championship with a win in the second game of their final series, while a Michigan State loss, coupled with a walk-off home run from Illinois’ Matt Dittman on the final day of the season, gave the Illini a share of the crown. Michigan State’s title was the program’s first since 1979 and fourth overall, while Illinois’ championship marked the program’s 29th and first since 2005.
Illinois earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament by virtue of its regular-season series win against Michigan State. The Spartans took the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 Purdue, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Minnesota and No. 6 Penn State. The Boilermakers extended their tournament appearances streak to four, which is the longest active stretch in the Big Ten. The Illini, Spartans, Buckeyes and Nittany Lions were new participants from 2010, giving every conference team at least one tournament appearance over the last two years.
The 2011 Big Ten Baseball Tournament was held at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, the home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. The event marked the third consecutive year that the tournament was held at a neutral site and the third straight year that all games were televised live by the Big Ten Network. The Illini swept through the tournament bracket, eventually defeating Michigan State, 9-1, in the championship game. Illinois catcher Adam Davis was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while fellow Illini Dittman, John Anderson, Corey Kimes, Willie Argo and Justin Parr received All-Tournament honors. See Page 3 of this release for the complete All-Tournament Team.
The Illinois-Michigan State matchup in the tournament final marked the fifth time that the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds met in the championship game since the field expanded to six teams in 2000, but the first since 2008. Illinois’ victory marked the second year in a row and the fifth time since 2000 that the No. 1 seed claimed the tournament championship.
Illinois’ tournament championship earned the squad the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship, the program’s first appearance since 2000. The Illini were the No. 4 seed in the Fullerton Regional, advancing to the regional final with a 7-5 elimination-game win over the top-seeded Titans. Illinois’ performance marked the fourth time in the last three years that a Big Ten team has advanced to a regional final. Josh Parr and Davis Hendrickson were named to the Fullerton All-Region team.
In early June, 19 Big Ten players were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, led by third-round selection Alex Dickerson of Indiana. The complete list of Big Ten Draft selections can be found on Page 10 of the attached release.