Kelzer’s return key to Hoosiers’ hopes

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Returning to Indiana for another season, Jake Kelzer is expected to be key to IU’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

The four relievers named first-team All-Big Ten since 2012 have anchored bullpens for clubs finishing either first or second in the conference standings. Over the last two seasons, 2014 NCAA Tournament national seed Indiana and 2015 NCAA Tournament national seed Illinois both placed a relief pitcher on the all-conference first team. Be it Trace Dempsey or Tyler Jay, it would appear having an elite stopper goes a long way to winnings games, and ultimately hardware.

To Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis there is no coincidence.

“I don’t think you can win without a great bullpen,” said the second-year head coach. “You’ve seen teams play in Omaha the last couple of years without great starting pitching but they all had great bullpens.”

As Indiana seeks a return to the College World Series, they’ll head into the 2016 with the pieces to have a great bullpen, buoyed by the return of right-hander Jake Kelzer.

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Peyton back and Perry joining, Hawks can still soar

Winning a school-record 77 games in his first two years, Rick Heller still has Iowa trending up.

Winning an Iowa-record 71 games in his first two years, Rick Heller has Iowa trending up.

If Rick Heller was a broker on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday’s draft deadline would have been a closing bell on a day he could do no wrong for his client. The 5 p.m. Eastern deadline for players drafted in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft to sign with the club whom drafted them or forgo professional baseball until their next eligible opportunity saw Heller’s Hawkeyes retain its most valuable asset and welcome a highly-coveted prospect.

After the program soared to heights unseen in a generation, the return of Tyler Peyton and the addition of Daniel Perry makes the Hawkeyes a program to not sell any time soon.

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The week that was B1G Baseball, July 19

It was a whirlwind week for Big Ten baseball programs.

At baseball’s highest level of, former Rutgers standout Todd Frazier won the MLB Home Run Derby, a day after once Indiana All-American catcher Kyle Schwarber earned MVP honors in the All-Star Future Games, before ex-Gopher Glen Perkins closed the door on the American League’s victory in the Midsummer Classic. With MLB’s second-hald beginning, Schwarber was promptly recalled to the bigs for the second time this season.

Those who will not perfect their craft with a professional organization, the week ended with players and recruits forgoing professional opportunities, opting for Big Ten.

In between, Illinois made sure head coach Dan Hartleb will stay in Champaign, extending the contract of the Big Ten Coach of the Year for five years.

Here’s a lightning-round roundup of the week that was,140 characters at a time.

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Players and signees forgo pros on deadline day

While a pair of right-handed pitchers from the Bluegrass State shocked the college baseball world and carried the news as top 75 draft picks Kyle Cody and Kyle Funkhouser announced their respective returns to Kentucky and Louisville, all was quiet in the Big Ten as Friday’s 5 p.m. Eastern deadline for players drafted in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft to sign came and pass without any last-minute deals down, an anticipated quiet afternoon did not offer any surprises.

As college players return for another year, high school players set to join a Big Ten program for at least three years, unless they turn 21 within 45 days of the draft following their sophomore year, coaches can now exhale and turn all attention to the 2016 season.

Here’s a collection announcing their decisions to hear, or return to Big Ten programs.

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Deadline’s final hours has little Big Ten drama

On Thursday night, a party close to Michigan State redshirt-sophomore Cam Vieaux told B1G Baseball the left-handed pitcher informed the Detroit Tigers he will not sign a contract and begin his professional career, instead opting to return to Michigan State. With the 19th-round draft pick set to be a Spartan for at least another year, what little drama remained across the Big Ten heading into Friday evening’s deadline for drafted players with remaining college eligibility has all but been erased.

Here’s one last primer before the 5 p.m. Eastern deadline for players to put ink to paper or wait another year to be begin their professional journey.

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The latest hello and goodbyes

Ohio State sophomore right-hander Travis Lakins has decided to forego two years of eligibility.

Ohio State sophomore right-hander Travis Lakins has decided to forego two years of eligibility.

For players drafted in the MLB First-Year Player Draft with remaining college eligibility the deadline to sign with the drafting organization is tomorrow, Friday July 17 at 5 p.m. Eastern. The deadline is expected to come and pass with little drama for Big Ten as decisions made over the last week leave just a handful of players unsigned without formal announcements of returning to their respect programs, most recently Indiana right-handed pitcher Jake Kelzer announced via Twitter his intention to return to Indiana.

Before examining the few Big Ten players left with a decision to make and the several drafted players signed to attend a conference programs, here’s a recap on those who have decided to join a professional organization, as well as a hire to round out of Spencer Allen’s staff at Northwestern.

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