October has come and gone. While Major League Baseball will see at least one game played in November, for all intents and purposes, the baseball season ends once the book is closed on October.
This holds true for Big Ten baseball programs.
The college baseball season has been over since the end of June and does not begin until mid-February. But October is a very important month, one of welcoming newcomers and team practice, usually capped by intra-squad series, as teams begin to turn their focus on the upcoming season.
As the Autumn season has concluded around the Midwest, here’s a look back on the major news of the month.
Eight programs released their 2017 schedules in October. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of each team’s upcoming slate.
Chris Lemonis’ club opens the season with four games in Surprise, Ariz., bookend with games against Gonzaga, taking on Duke and Oregon State. The following weekend, IU heads to the Atlantic coast for a three-game series at Florida Atlantic. To open March, Indiana returns south, traveling to Samford. After opening the home season on March 10, with a three-game set against Middle Tennessee, the Hoosiers travel to Hawaii, for four games March 15-18. In their conference bye week, Indiana will host Xavier, May 5-7.
The Hawkeyes open the 2017 season with three games in Tampa against South Florida and conclude the pre-conference slate with a three games at Kansas State. In between, Iowa will play three games at Morehead State and participate in the Dairy Queen Classic, hosted by Minnesota, alongside the Gophers, Hawaii and Oral Roberts. Stepping away from Big Ten play, Iowa hosts UNLV, March 31-April 2, during the Hawkeye bye week.
The Terps open the upcoming season in Clearwater, Fla., for single games against Ball State, Louisville and Alabama State. The following weekend, Maryland tangles in the marquee Big Ten non-conference series with three games at LSU. The USA Baseball-Irish Classic is on deck the following weekend, with games against NC State, Notre Dame, and Massachusetts-Lowell. Maryland’s Big Ten bye week is the final week of the season when they host High Point.
Eleven road games await the Huskers to start the 2017 campaign. Nebraska’s season starts with four games against UC Riverside in Tempe, Ariz., followed by a return trip to the desert for two games each against Oregon State and Utah in Surprise. Nebraska is in a stout Frisco College Baseball Classic field, joined by Arkansas, Arizona and Oklahoma State, for the March 3-5 tournament. After weekend home series against Western Carolina and the College of Charleston, Nebraska heads back out west for four games against Cal Poly to conclude its pre-Big Ten run.
Like Nebraska, Northwestern will open the 2017 season in Tempe. The Wildcats will visit Arizona State for three games to highlight its non-conference schedule. A trip to Nashville to play in the Music City Classic, against opponents yet to be determined, occurs the following weekend, before Northwestern heads out west again for four games at Santa Clara. On the heels of a non-conference series at Portland, the Wildcats host Central Michigan, March 17-19, for their first home series. Northwestern welcomes Air Force to Evanston during its Big Ten bye week, March 31-April 2.
The trend of Big Ten teams heading to Arizona this season continues with Ohio State. After beginning the season in Florida for four games, weekend number two will see the Buckeyes join Nebraska in playing two games each against Oregon State and Utah in Surprise. The following weekend, Ohio State has a three-game date with Campbell, before returning to Florida for a three-game series at Florida Gulf Coast. Ohio State has a split-site non-conference series against Xavier, March 17-19 in the final weekend before Big Ten play begins. On May 2-3, Ohio State host Texas Tech for a marque midweek match-up.
Penn State will be one of two Big Ten programs to open the 2017 season on the road against a 2016 College World Series participant. The back-end of home-and-home series, the Nittany Lions will kick off the season with three games at TCU. Next on the docket is three games against Xavier, another NCAA Tournament participant, in Cary, N.C. A west coast swing awaits Penn State to start March, with three games at Pacific, a midweek contest at UC Davis, and a weekend series at Sacramento State. Penn State will take on Columbia in a split-site series, two games on each campus, in the final weekend before conference play.
The Scarlet Knights are the other program set to open the 2017 on the road against a 206 College World Series participant. Joe Litterio’s club will renew their annual season-opening series against Miami, heading to Coral Gables for three games. Rutgers is expect to face little reprieve in the competitiveness of their next opponent, heading to another Atlantic Coast Conference power, Virginia, for three games, Feb. 24-26. Rutger’s non-conference slate rounds outs with road series at Old Dominion, North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate.
Hill and Roark Clash
Former Big Ten pitchers Rich Hill and Tanner Roark squared off in the National League Divisional Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals. Neither pitcher was particularly sharp. Hill, a former Wolverine, receiving the loss in allowing four runs off six hits in 4.1 innings with seven strikeouts against two walks. As Washington won, 5-2, Roark, once an Illini, received a no-decision, pitching an equal 4.1 innings, yielding two runs off seven hits, walking three batters while striking out one.
Los Angeles won the series, three games to two, before falling to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Champions Series, in six games.
Speaking of the Cubs, as the team seeks its first World Series title since 1908, the team’s DH has turned the baseball world on its head.
Limited to just five plate appearances before being lost for the duration of the regular seasons with two torn left knee tendons, former Indiana Hoosier Kyle Schwarber was removed from the DL and added to the team’s active roster, cleared to serve as the team’s DH following an quicker-than-expected recovery.
News of Schwarber’s return made headlines, then Schwarber’s performance in the first two games of the World Series sent the slugger further into Cubs lure. With the first two games played at Cleveland, where the Cubs can use a DH, Schwarber had three hits, including a double, in seven at-bats with two RBI. Not medically cleared to play in the field, Schwarber was reduced to a pinch-hitting role as the series moved back to Chicago.