MINNEAPOLIS — The Big Ten has approved a new oversigning policy in baseball that Indiana coach Tracy Smith said will “dramatically” help teams annually compete for recruits on the national level.
The conference will soon allow each program to offer two more scholarships to recruits than it’s losing in its outgoing senior class. And those scholarships could technically be spread to an unlimited number of prospects.
The current policy permits teams to oversign no more than two recruits using the equivalent of one extra scholarship. It’s something NU coach Darin Erstad had opposed.
Smith conveyed some of the obstacles facing the league after his team won a Big Ten tournament title Sunday.
“Our biggest challenge in the Big Ten is to be able to protect yourself when you have a lot of underclassmen,” Smith said. “The only way to do that is — and I’m very pleased with the Big Ten’s decision — to expand on the oversignability of recruits.”
The new rules will take effect in August, according to Smith. They were apparently approved by Big Ten faculty members last month.
“This helps you forecast guys you are going to lose, and hopefully (helps) cover your tracks a little bit so you don’t have a dip in talent,” Smith said.
‘Illegal pass’ counts as out, but doesn’t cost Hoosiers
The umpires immediately interrupted Indiana’s celebration just as the winning run reached home plate in Sunday’s title game.
They had to figure out what to do with Kyle Schwarber, who had been at second base. He ran out of the base line and never touched third before hugging his teammates and enjoying the win.
Before the ninth-inning play, the bases were loaded and nobody was out. Sophomore Sam Travis said he knew Indiana had secured a 4-3 win the moment Scott Donley lined the first pitch he saw into left field. But Schwarber started sprinting toward his teammates a little too soon.
“I told (Schwarber) to go touch the other base, but the umpire already realized it,” Travis said. “It was too late. So he called him out. Luckily, there was not two outs and we still got the win.”
The ruling was that Schwarber would be called out on an “illegal pass,” but every other runner could advance.
Darby ejection highlights first-base drama in eighth
Sophomore center fielder Austin Darby was ejected in the eighth inning when he slammed his helmet on the ground after a close play at first base.
It wasn’t the only bang-bang play at first that inning — Rich Sanguinetti was visibly upset after he was called out at first on a sacrifice bunt. But the NU dugout was not warned in any way, Erstad said.
Darby broke the rules, Erstad said.
“A young man lost his cool in the heat of the moment, threw his helmet and that’s an automatic ejection,” Erstad said. “It’s a good learning lesson for our guys. There was a lot on the line. A lot of emotions.”
Error costs Huskers crucial double play
Nebraska had seven double plays in two games against Indiana, but it couldn’t turn one in maybe the biggest spot Sunday.
In the sixth inning, Michael Basil was running on the 3-2 pitch that junior Dustin DeMuth hit right at second baseman Pat Kelly. There wasn’t much time and Kelly bobbled it, then threw wildly to first. A run scored on the play and one more crossed the plate before the inning ended.
“The guy’s making a baseball play,” Erstad said. “(Kelly) sped up the play and made a bad throw, but that guy played absolutely unbelievable defense all year.”
Kelly was one of six Huskers on the Big Ten all-tournament team. Others honored were starting pitcher Christian DeLeon, starting pitcher Kyle Kubat, shortstop Bryan Peters, outfielder Chad Christensen and first baseman Kash Kalkowski.
— Jon Nyatawa