MINNEAPOLIS -- No. 4 seed Illinois, the surprise of the Big Ten double-elimination baseball tourney, can take the title Saturday with two victories.
The Illini advanced to Saturday's round as the only remaining unbeaten team after defeating Penn State 5-3 behind sophomore left-hander Andy Dickinson's three-hitter Friday.
''We knew if we won this, we could sit out until tomorrow and have everybody else beat up on each other,'' Illinois first baseman Andy Schutxenhofer said. ''Hopefully, they'll use up a lot of pitchers.''
That's one thing the Illini haven't done, with two complete games so far and a very rested bullpen heading into Saturday's games against Penn State and Ohio State, which defeated Purdue 9-8 in Friday's wild nightcap.
The Illini play Penn State at 1 p.m. and Ohio State at 7 p.m. The winner of the tournament gets an automatic berth to the NCAAs.
Both top-seeded Minnesota -- which lost 6-1 to Purdue and 5-2 to Penn State -- and Purdue were eliminated Friday.
All was not lost for the Golden Gophers (37-22), however, because they'll still get an NCAA tournament berth by virtue of their selection as one of 16 host sites for the regionals next weekend.
If Illinois loses one of its games Saturday, a championship game will be played Sunday afternoon.
Dickinson (8-2) walked four and struck out six, including Eric Spadt three times. Nittany Lions starter Dan McCall (5-1) gave up five earned runs on seven hits, four walks and two hit batters in five innings.
The Illini scored twice in each of the first two innings as McCall couldn't find his control.
''I told our guys in the dugout, 'We worked hard to get four runs and they're liable to get four runs in two swings,'' Illini coach Itch Jones said. ''And Chris Netwall hits a homer and they get three back in one swing.''
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