Baseball to face Michigan, among others in season opening tournament

The Seton Hall baseball team opens its 2012 regular season in the same city in which they won the program’s third Big East title last spring – the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area in Florida. The team is playing in the Fourth Annual Big East/Big Ten Baseball Challenge.

“I think the guys are really looking forward to it,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “Nothing can duplicate going out there and coming together as a group and playing, and we will get an opportunity to do that down at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. We’re excited!”

This year, unlike in the three previous years of the tournament, Seton Hall will face four Big Ten opponents, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern.

Seton Hall has a history in the Challenge, as the Pirates have participated in the event each of the three previous years it has been held, facing three teams each season.

Overall, the Pirates are 4-5 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, defeating Iowa last season. The Pirates will open the Challenge by facing Penn State at 4 p.m. on Friday.

The Nittany Lions placed sixth in the Big Ten last season, going 32-22 overall and 12-12 in conference play, losing both of their games in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hall has faced Penn State each year in the tournament, but has not beaten the Nittany Lions in its three tries. Last season, the Hall lost their season-opener to Penn State, 8-6, at the Challenge, as a late rally to cut a five-run deficit to just two in the ninth inning fell short.

On Saturday, the Pirates will play two games, facing Michigan in their second game of the tournament at 1 p.m. and Ohio State in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m.

Michigan finished in last place in the Big Ten last season, with an overall record of 17-37 and a 7-16 conference record. The Buckeyes tied Minnesota for fourth in the Big Ten standings last year. They finished with a 26-27 record overall and a 13-11 conference record, losing two straight games in the Big Ten Tournament after an opening win over Minnesota.

Rounding out their four-game slate, the Pirates will face Northwestern for the second straight season in the Challenge at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Wildcats placed eighth in the Big Ten last season with a 20-29 overall record and a 10-13 conference record. They also failed to make the Big Ten Tournament.

The Big Ten won the first annual tournament in 2009 but the Big East has won the Challenge the last two years.

Jason Guerette can be reached at jason.guerette@student.shu.edu

Author: Staff Writer

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