Defending Big Ten Conference champion Michigan has been eliminated from the conference tournament after losing its second straight game. The Wolverines were in the hole after losing to Ohio State 4-2 yesterday, and Penn State showed them the door this afternoon with a 6-5 victory. Michigan trailed 5-2 heading into the ninth before scoring three runs to tie it up, but the Nittany Lions answered with a run in the 10th on Cory Wine’s solo home run.
The Wolverines are probably still safely in the field of 64, thanks to their regular season title and a fairly strong RPI (40). But their poor showing this week, combined with a lackluster 7-8 record in their last 15 games, might cause them to fall to a No. 3 seed in a regional.
Penn State might be playing its way into an at-large berth even if it doesn’t win the conference tournament. The Nittany Lions don’t have a particularly impressive RPI (71), but it’s not awful, either. And they’ve finished strong, having won their last three conference series against Purdue, Michigan and Ohio State. Keep in mind, it’s not easy to win a conference series in the Big Ten, where you must win three out of four games rather than two out of three like in most other leagues. Penn State is trying to keep its run going right now against Illinois; the Nittany Lions lead 1-0 in the third.