Jun 4, 2011

Illinois beats Kansas State 5-3 to stay alive - ESPN Chicago

FULLERTON, Calif. -- No. 9 hitter Josh Parr had a two-run triple and an RBI double to help Big Ten champion Illinois beat Kansas State 5-3 on Saturday in an elimination game in the NCAA Fullerton Regional.

Davis Hendrickson, the Illini's No. 8 hitter, also had a double and triple and an RBI.

Illinois (29-26) took a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Parr doubled home Hendrickson, and scored on younger brother Justin Parr's sacrifice fly. Josh Parr made it 5-1 in the fourth with his two-run triple.

Kansas State (36-25) struck first in the second on Mike Kindel's homer run off John Anderson (8-6).

Anderson allowed three runs -- one earned -- on seven hits in eight innings. Chris Pack finished for his fourth save. Kansas State's Matt Applegate (5-5) allowed all five runs in 3 2-3 innings.

On Sunday, Illinois will face the Cal State Fullerton-Stanford loser in another elimination game.

The Triumph of Political Derangement | Truthout

(Photo: thierry ehrmann / Flickr

Friday 3 June 2011

by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

- Oscar Wilde

There are many familiar symbols that represent the United States of America. There is the flag, of course. There is the strange eye above the unfinished pyramid on the back of the dollar bill. There are the myriad iconic buildings in Washington as familiar to us as the back of our hands.

Well, the moment has arrived to add a new symbol to the list, one that represents the sad state of our national politics, the ridiculous media coverage of same, and the deranged condition the American people find themselves in today. I suggest Janus, the ancient two-headed Roman god whose faces look both forward and backward simultaneously. In representing the American people, Janus would be a perfect depiction of a person who wants two things at once, and hasn't yet figured out how to do it.

To wit: every available scrap of poll data indicates that a large majority of Americans are stoutly opposed to the Ryan plan that seeks to end Medicare...and every scrap of poll data also indicates that a majority of Americans are dead-set against raising the debt-limit ceiling.

Who the what the where the when the why the hell is that?

Simple answer: the GOP pulled a bait-and-switch on America's most vulnerable voters by claiming that Obama and the Democrats wanted to destroy Medicare, and with this gambit clawed their way into majority control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections. Once they were in, they turned on a dime and started laying the groundwork to annihilate the very Medicare program they had been sounding the alarm over.

The looming vote on raising the debt limit - a vote that had previously passed unremarked every year since time out of mind - is now the Line of Death, a doomsday deadline the GOP is using to force Democrats into savage cuts in the social contract. With savvy messaging, the GOP has managed to hoodwink a majority of Americans into thinking that failing to pass the debt ceiling increase is a good thing, our "mainstream" news media has coddled such viewpoints, and the Democrats are only just beginning to figure out how to message against such madness.

The people want to keep Medicare, but they also apparently want to eviscerate the national economy just as the most recent dour economic reports are coming in, because they want big cuts in spending...so long as it doesn't involve the social safety net or any of the hundred other programs they benefit from on a daily basis. They have reached this demented point of view for the same reason old-school computer programmers came up with the acronym GIGO - garbage in, garbage out - to describe how disruptive and destructive bad information can be to any process.

For the record: if Medicare is eliminated, growing old in America will once again be synonymous with growing poor. Millions of people will be financially ravaged, as pensions and long-term investments have been plundered and proven to be worth less than the paper they are printed on (thanks to the economic policies of the very people now seeking to eliminate Medicare).

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For the record: if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by the drop-dead date in August, the economic calamity we suffered through two years ago will seem like a Cape Cod clambake by comparison. Interest rates will skyrocket, delivering a body blow to the all-important Treasury bond market. The already-anemic housing market will further collapse, crushing the construction industry. Worst of all, the rest of the world (which believes at this moment that America would never be utterly stupid enough to let this happen) would immediately lose confidence in the United States, and a global Depression would fold its wings over us like a funeral shroud.

Ever paid $50 for a Big Mac? You will, if this deal goes down.

Wall Street finds such a possibility unthinkable at this point, which is why the markets didn't even blink when the GOP House majority vomited up their sham bill to raise the debt ceiling, only to vote it down as a show of force against Democrats and a sop to their Tea Party base. It seems inconceivable that the GOP would shoot itself in both feet - one bullet labeled "Medicare" and the other labeled "economic annihilation" - because it would be the end of them as a force in American politics...but consider this, from Walter Shapiro of The New Republic:

Think it can't happen here? Remember that in 2008, with the financial markets in free fall, the House initially voted down TARP, with 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans opting for the apocalypse over risking their reelection chances. During the 2010 campaigns from South Carolina to Nebraska, both Republicans and Democrats confided to me that voting for TARP the second time around was the most difficult political vote of their careers. Having done the responsible thing back in 2008 (and then discovering that the voters will never fully forgive them), these legislators are likely to let someone else mount the scaffold for the debt-ceiling vote.

Looking at the arithmetic of Tuesday night's debt-ceiling vote (97 Democrats voting aye, 7 voting "present" to protest GOP gamesmanship, and party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer voting "no," although they will undoubtedly support Obama on a final vote), it is hard to see how the legislation can ultimately pass the House without 80-90 GOP votes. Unless you believe that there will be a grand deficit bargain by the end of July (and elves are dancing in the glen), finding 80-90 Republicans willing to take on both the fury of the Tea Party movement and the doubts of independent voters is a daunting task.

In other words, yeah, they are exactly that crazy and stupid, and very well might just let this happen...thanks in no small part to Janus, god of the American voter, who can't decide which way to look, and thus tries to go in two directions at once. The mixed polling signals coming from the electorate are as unhinged as the politicians who listen to them, and that spells bad trouble for everyone.

If we go down this hole, we can blame the Tea Party, the media, the GOP, the Democrats, the White House...and us. If we save Medicare but nuke the economy, we're screwed. If we nuke Medicare but save the economy, we're screwed. But if we save Medicare and the economy...wow...what a concept.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. But, then again, I'm not deranged.

Very rational words about our deranged state of politics... !  Monte

Jun 2, 2011

May 31 Freese-Notis Weather Update

VIDEO: 'An historic meteorological spring'
Great Summary of Midwest Weather This Year... Monte

Summer 'without a summer

La Nina's ending, and with the transition in the predominant weather pattern in the western hemisphere, look for a different tone for this summer's weather in general.

It looks like the summer could wind up cooler than normal, according to AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Henry Margusity. While that brings along with it more chances for rainfall throughout the area, it also means the potential for thunderstorms, in general, could be greater than normal as well.

Marketing Talk: '5 storms in 6 days'

"The end of the La Nina pattern will threaten to make this area a region 'without a summer,'" says Margusity. "Repeated intrusions of cool air from Canada along with showers and thunderstorms will keep temperatures below normal in many areas. Temperatures topping 90 [degrees Fahrenheit] may be rare."

For direction on exactly how this trend will unfold, Margusity advises looking south from the Midwest; the stormy spring in states like Alabama and Mississippi could be a bellwether for more storm potential than normal for the Corn Belt in July and August.

"The severe weather that has plagued the South this spring will shift northward. Frequent bouts of thunderstorms could mean numerous instances of flooding, hail and wind damage, even tornadoes," Margusity says. "While we probably had the most extreme tornado activity of 2011 during April and May, the summer still has potential to bring a few moderate outbreaks of tornadoes."

What that forecast means

If you've got a lot of acres left to plant, Margusity's forecast isn't exactly music to your ears. And, with some areas -- like the eastern Corn Belt and northern Plains -- still waiting on warmer, dry weather to allow stalled-out fieldwork to resume, there may be a lot of acres left unplanted by midsummer, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., ag meteorologist Craig Solberg.

"Ohio has more corn left to plant than anyone, but at least does have a favorable forecast for net drying to take place, as temperatures will be warm and rainfall will be limited there over the next 10 days," Solberg says. "As wet as the northern Plains are right now and with rain in the 10-day forecast, it is becoming more and more likely that there will be acreage there that just never does get planted. For areas of the Midwest that has all of the spring fieldwork done, this is still a favorable forecast."

How Fraudulent Is the GOP Budget Plan? It Wouldn't Even Make a Dent In the Deficit!

A plan being sold to the public as a “serious” attempt to reduce the federal deficit would cut the budget gap by just one-seventh of one percent over the next decade.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The Republican budget plan is the purest expression of the Right's longstanding desire to dismantle the social safety net. It's not about the budget deficit—that's simply a premise -- it's the "Shock Doctrine" in action.

How radical is it? According to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the plan would slash all public spending other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by almost three-quarters by 2050. And because the “budget does not envision defense cuts in real terms,” what this means is that “most of the rest of the federal government outside of health care, Social Security, and defense would cease to exist.”

It's the epitome of anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist's fantasy of shrinking the government down to a point where he could “drown it in a bathtub.”

And it's not just a matter of bait-and-switch; the entire proposal is a fraud. Just consider this: while selling their plan to the public as a “serious” and “bold” attempt to reduce the federal deficit, Republicans are overstating how much it would cut the budget gap by ten-fold.

That's right, Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, says his plan would reduce the deficit by $160 billion per year over the next decade, but it actually trims just $15 billion per year over that period – which is next to nothing in the context of budgets that run well over $3 trillion. To put that figure in perspective, it represents less than half of the spending cuts proposed by Barack Obama for next year; the average savings would have reduced this year's deficit by just one measly percent.

Yet despite that simple mathematical truth, media outlets like CBS mindlessly report that the GOP's budget “would reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion over ten years.” How did the media get so thoroughly duped? According to CBPP, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's staff inflated the cuts in spending by $1.5 trillion over the next decade (which still doesn't get to CBS' claimed savings -- reporter Jill Jackson apparently looked at the spending cuts but didn't factor in the plan's reduced tax revenues). First, they took credit for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts decreasing with previously planned troop withdrawals that have nothing to do with the GOP's budget plan– something Ryan himself criticized the White House for doing in its own budget projections. Then they made a “math error” that exaggerated how much we'd save in interest payments by $230 billion over the next decade – a number significantly higher than the amount of deficit reduction they'd get out of the plan. Oops!

After 10 years, the deficit reduction gets bigger, but largely by sticking seniors with more health-care costs (as discussed below), and through unspecified “tax reforms” that are supposed to raise revenues. The GOP promises to create and pass some sort of tax scheme sometime over the next decade, but they've also sworn not to increase taxes in order to balance the budget and history suggests they'd fight tooth-and-nail to block such a measure. Again, we see a scam packaged as a “brave” budget proposal.

Make no mistake, however – while the plan's deficit reduction is largely fantasy, the pain it would impose on working America is very real. Almost two-thirds of the $4.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years come from programs that help those with lower incomes. Another big chunk of “savings” doesn't save any money at all – according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the GOP's Medicare privatization scheme would increase the cost of the program by upwards of 40 percent, but it would sharply cut the tab the government picks up, instead shifting the burden onto older people themselves.

CBO tells us a “typical senior” in 2022 would face more than twice the health-care costs under the GOP plan than under Medicare as it exists today. The Republicans, having been burned badly by Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security, largely left it alone, but as Daniel Marans of Social Security Workspoints out, the plan “creates an unprecedented new fast-track procedure to ram through Social Security benefit cuts.”

You may be wondering how it's possible that a budget which cuts so much public spending barely touches the deficit. The answer is simple. The GOP's plan would not only make the “Bush tax cuts” permanent – CBO says if they don't expire on schedule those cuts will represent the biggest contributor to the deficit going forward – it goes further still, reducing the top marginal tax rate (paid only by multi-millionaires) to its lowest level since the mid 1930s, before the New Deal was established. It would slash the top rate paid by corporations by almost 30 percent, and it would also repeal a small surcharge high earners pay into the Medicare system. As CPBB notes, the tax proposals “place a top priority on cutting taxes for high-income people, while doing nothing to reduce budget deficits, themselves.” It's basically a wash, simply redistributing more of the nation's wealth to those at the top of the economic heap.

Slashing taxes on top earners and corporations can make sense in certain circumstances, but it's nothing short of lunacy in our current situation. That's because, contrary to the popular and longstanding Republican talking-point, we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. The federal government collected taxes equaling 18.5 percent of our economic activity, on average, ever since World War II. Under Ronald Reagan, it averaged 18.2 percent. But over the past three years, the government took in just under 15 percent, the lowest level since 1950, before Medicare was enacted.

As I noted in April, while our corporate tax rates are high on paper, corporations have successfully lobbied for so many shelters and loopholes that, expressed as a share of GDP, American firms paid less than those in all of the other affluent countries in 2008 (we tied with Turkey for the bottom spot). And in 2011, they'll pay almost a third less than they did that year, according to former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett.

It's no wonder Americans don't like the plan – and they hate it when they learn the details. Newt Gingrich has never been more correct than when he characterized it as right-wing “social engineering.” But the real crime has been committed by the corporate media-- not only for calling the plan “courageous” and “serious,” but for referring to it in the context of deficit reduction in the first place.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America)

Scientists create charcoal that could help solve global warming

A group of Scottish scientists are carrying out ground-breaking research which could help solve global warming.

The researchers at the University of Edinburgh think that using a specially created form of charcoal could increase food production in the developing world and could even help cut greenhouse gases.

A machine that takes agricultural waste like wood and crops and turns it into biochar has been built by the team who are now trying out the product in fields outside the city. The substance holds on to water and nutrients in the soil, encouraging crop growth. It works best in sandy soil and the hope is that it will be able to be used in dry, developing nations where crops are harder to grow.

It is hoped that it will also be able to account for 10% of the greenhouse gas emission cuts that Scotland have to make. Once in the ground, it soaks up the gases from the atmosphere and locks them into the earth.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine from the university explained: “We calculated from the work which has been done here that biochar could form about 10% of the greenhouse gas reduction, which we need to do in the future for Scotland.

“About a quarter of the emissions from carbon dioxide from Scotland come from land use, whether that’s agricultural or forestry and that’s very difficult to solve so this is one way we think we can do that.”

Jun 1, 2011

Impact of biochar application to soil on the root-associated bacterial community structure of fully developed greenhouse pepper plants. -- Kolton et al., 10.1128/AEM.00148-11 -- Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Max Kolton1,2,3, Yael Meller Harel2, Zohar Pasternak4, Ellen R. Graber1,Yigal Elad2,3, and Eddie Cytryn1,*

1 Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, The Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, POB 6, Bet Dagan, 50250, Israel 2Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Research, The Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, POB 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel 3 Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot, 76100, Israel 4 Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel


Adding biochar to soil has environmental and agricultural potential due to its long-term carbon sequestration capacity and its ability to improve crop productivity. Recent studies have demonstrated that soil-applied biochar promotes systemic resistance of plants to several prominent foliar pathogens. One potential mechanism for this phenomenon is root-associated microbial elicitors whose presence is somehow augmented in the biochar-amended soils. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of biochar amendment on the root-associated bacterial community composition of mature sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) plants. Molecular fingerprinting (DGGE and T-RFLP) of 16S rRNA gene fragments showed a clear differentiation between the root-associated bacterial community structures of biochar-amended and control plants. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons from the rhizoplane of both treatments generated a total of 20,142 sequences, 92-95% of which were affiliated with the Proteobacteria, Bacterioidetes, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutesphyla. The relative abundance of members of the Bacterioidetes phylum increased from 12 to 30% as a result of biochar amendment, while that of the Proteobacteria decreased from 71 to 47%. The Bacteroidetes-affiliatedFlavobacterium was the strongest biochar-induced genus. The relative abundance of this group increased from 4.2% of total root-associated operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in control samples to 19.6% in biochar amended samples. Additional biochar-induced genera included chitin and cellulose degraders (Chitinophaga and Cellvibrio, respectively) and aromatic compound degraders (Hydrogenophaga and Dechloromonas). We hypothesize that these biochar augmented genera may be at least partially responsible for the beneficial effect of biochar amendment on plant growth and viability.

* Corresponding author: Mailing address: Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, The Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, POB 6, Bet Dagan, 50250, Israel. Phone: (972) 3-968-3767. Fax: (972) 3-960-4017. E-mail: Eddie@volcani.agri.gov.il.

Geo-engineering: Biomass


Traditionally, biomass has been used in four ways:
1. For industrial purposes (shelter, building materials, furniture, utensils, etc)
2. Burning (for domestic energy use such as heating, lighting and cooking, and for land clearance)
3. Conservation (left on land or added to soil as compost, to enrich soil and biodiversity, avoid erosion, etc.)
4. For food (including livestock feed, while using fertilizers and with waste dumped in landfills or sea)
In the light of rising costs of fossil fuel and climate change concerns, other uses are considered, specifically:
5. Low-footprint food (reduced meat and reduced use of chemical fertilizers, with waste processed)
6. Commercial combustion in power plants, furnaces, kilns, ovens and internal combustion engines
7. Burial
8. BECCS (Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture & Storage)
9. Biochar (Pyrolysis resulting in biochar, syngas and bio-oils)
10. Biochar + BECCS (Biochar + Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture & Storage)
Table 1. Comparison of methods to process biomass (Energy and Carbon)
CombustionBurialBECCSBiocharBiochar + BECCS
Energy - year 01.0-
Carbon - year 0-
Energy - out years0.40.4
Carbon - out years0.50.5
Total 0.9 0.9 1.6 1.9 2.3
Above table by Ron Larsen, from this message, shows five methods to process biomass, rated (with 1.0 being the highest score) for their ability to supply energy and for their ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Above table shows that each way to process biomass waste has advantages and disadvantages:
6. Combustion may seem attractive for its supply of energy, while having negative impact due to emissions
7. Burial can minimize emissions, but it doesn't provide energy, in fact it costs energy
8. BECCS can score high on immediate energy supply as well as on avoiding carbon emissions
9. Biochar scores well regarding immediate energy supply and emissions, with additional future benefits
10. Biochar + BECCS has all the benefits of biochar, while also capturing and storing pyrolysis emissions
The table below also incorporates above-mentioned traditional use of biomass, while using a wider footprint, i.e. with scores not only reflecting the ability of the method to remove carbon from the atmosphere, but also looking at emissions other than carbon.
Table 2. Comparison of ten uses of biomass (Energy and Footprint)
Energy - year 0Footprint - year 0Energy - out yearsFootprint - out yearsTotal
Food-0.3 -0.3
Low-footprint food0.0
Burial-0.11.0 0.9
BECCS0.8 0.8 1.6
Biochar0.5 0.50.4 0.51.9
Biochar +BECCS0.5 0.9 0.4 0.52.3
Biochar gets its positive "out years" scores for increasing vegetation growth over time, as it improves soil's water and nutrients retention, while also reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
These qualities of biochar are also helpful in efforts to bring vegetation into the desert by means of desalinated water, as proposed by a number of scientists. A study by Leonard Ornstein, a cell biologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and climate modelers David Rind and Igor Aleinov of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, all based in New York City, concludes that it's worth while to do so.
They envision building desalination plants to pump seawater from oceans to inland desert areas using pumps, pipes, canals and aqueducts. The idea is that this would result in vegetation, with the tree cover also bringing more rain -- about 700 to 1200 millimeters per year -- and clouds, which would also help reflect sunlight back into space.
This would not only make these deserts more livable and productive, it would also cool areas, in some cases by up to 8°C .
Importantly, vegetation in the deserts could draw some 8 billion tons of carbon a year from the atmosphere -- nearly as much as people now emit by burning fossil fuels and forests. As forests matured, they could continue taking up this much carbon for decades.
The researchers estimate that building, running, and maintaining reverse-osmosis plants for desalination and the irrigation equipment will cost some $2 trillion per year.

May 31, 2011

Social Networks: Is the Novelty Wearing Off?

Complete Premium video at:http://fora.tv/conference/top_ten_tech_trends_2011 Panelists at the Churchill Club's annual Top Ten Tech Trends event debate whether or not social networks are beggining to develop an "uncool factor" among early adopters. Futurist Paul Saffo predicts a shift towards "meaningful social networks" and a growing trend towards being disconnected. "The cool thing will be to not be on LinkedIn and to not be on Facebook," says Saffo. What new trends will emerge in the next several years? 

Find out at one of the Churchill Club's most anticipated events of the year: the 13th Annual Top Ten Tech Trends debate. Be sure to get your seat as we welcome some of the techno-industries' leading (and most opinionated) luminaries as they evaluate predictions for the years ahead. Visionaries at SRI International -- the institute that has conducted $4B in research in the last decade and spun out 40 ventures -- have taken their best shot at predicting the biggest trends of them all. Our distinguished panel will rate and debate the trends. 

And our usual live audience of Silicon Valley's best and brightest -- all with opinions of your own -- will be asked to agree or disagree. - The Churchill Club Paul Saffo is a forecaster and strategist with over two decades experience exploring long-term technological change and its practical impact on business and society. He was initiated into the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus in 2000 and is chairman of the Most Important Committee. 

Saffo is Chairman of the Samsung Science Board, and serves on a variety of other boards and advisory panels, including the Stanford Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Society, and the Long Now Foundation, as well as the boards of several public and pre-public companies located the United States and abroad.

The Great Morel Home Page

NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Bracket - NCAA.com

Illinois vs Cal St Fullerton, Friday, June 3, 10:00pm CT, ESPNU & ESPN3

May 29, 2011

BIG TEN CHAMPIONS - Illini Win Big Ten Tournament with 9-1 Victory Over Spartans - On to NCAA TOURNAMENT!!!

May 28, 2011

Box Score

GREAT VIDEO ... Highlights | Big Ten Network Highlights | Postgame Interviews ... GO ILLINI... A history making team!!! ... Monte

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Junior left-hander Corey Kimes threw the first complete game of his career and senior first baseman Matt Dittman ripped a towering grand slam as top-seeded Illinois cruised to a 9-1 win over No. 2 seed Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament championship game at Huntington Park on Saturday. It is the Illini's first Big Ten Tournament title and berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2000, and the first time in school history that Illinois has won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in the same season.

"I wasn't sure I had a complete game in me, but I knew I was going to come out here and give it my best and do it for my teammates," Kimes said. "My teammates are awesome and I didn't want to let them down."

The Illini extend their winning streak to eight games and have won 11 of their last 13 games and 16 of their last 20. Illinois scored more than six runs for the 13th time in its last 19 games and double-digit hits 12 times in the last 18 games. It is the fourth time in school history that Illinois has won the Big Ten Tournament, joining 2000, 1990 and 1989.

"I'm extremely proud of this team," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "Corey Kimes dominated all night and he handled the middle of their order very well. Adam Davis was a big part of that with the game he called and we were awesome defensively. We were fortunate to score early and give Corey a lead and he pitched well with it. I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys."

Kimes was phenomenal, hurling his first career complete game while allowing only one run on seven hits. He didn't give up a walk or a hit batter and struck out a career-high seven, requiring only 114 pitches. He retired 11 consecutive batters from the fifth through the eighth innings and threw an amazing 86 strikes (75 percent). And he threw a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 33 batters he faced (75.8 percent).

Kimes and Dittman were named to the All-Tournament team, along with center fielderWillie Argo, starting pitcher John Anderson, designated hitter Justin Parr and catcher Adam Davis, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

The Illini struck first with a run in the first inning. Parr smashed a one-out double to right-center on the first pitch he saw from MSU starter Chase Rihtarchik and Davis ripped a single through the left side to drive him in. Third baseman Brandon Hohldrew a walk but Rihtarchik struck out the next to Illini hitters looking to keep Illinois' lead at 1-0.

MSU had a pair of runners on base with one out in the bottom of the first after two infield hits that didn't get past the pitcher's mound, but Kimes kept his composure and struck out the next two hitters to stifle the Spartans and hold the 1-0 lead.

Kimes retired the first two hitters in the second before giving up a bloop single down the right-field line. But he got MSU catcher Joel Fisher to fly out to center fielder Willie Argo to end the inning.

Davis smashed a two-out opposite-field double in the third inning before Hohl and left fielder Casey McMurray drew consecutive walks to load the bases. MSU went to the bullpen for reliever Tim Simpson, who gave up a grand slam down the right-field line to Dittman that put the Illini up 5-0.

In the bottom of the third, Spartan center fielder Brandon Eckerle recorded a bunt hit, his second single that didn't travel past the pitcher's mound, but Kimes coaxed a fly-out to Argo and struck out Big Ten Player of the Year Jeff Holm on three pitches. Davis then caught Eckerle stealing second after Holm's strikeout for an inning-ending double play.

Shortstop Josh Parr led off the fourth inning with a double off the third-base bag and came home on second baseman Pete Cappettafollowed with another double down the left-field line. After back-to-back outs, Hohl smashed a triple to left-center, driving home Cappetta and staking Illinois to a 7-0 lead.

Kimes kept rolling in the fourth, striking out MSU third baseman Torsten Boss on three straight high fastballs, with the third one hitting 93 mph on the stadium radar gun. DH Jared Hook hit a laser up the middle that Parr gloved with a diving stop before throwing a strike to Dittman at first. Parr then gloved the next grounder and tossed it to first for the final out of the inning.

The Illini added a run in the fifth when Argo drew a one-out walk and moved to third on right fielder Davis Hendrickson's single to right. Hendrickson stole second and Argo scored on Josh Parr's base hit to right-center, pushing the margin to 8-0.

Michigan State got a run in the fifth after a leadoff double, a groundout to the right side and an RBI single to right to bring the Spartans within 8-1. But Kimes got Eckerle to bounce back to him for the second out and coaxed a fly-out to get out of the inning.

The Illini went down in order in the sixth and Kimes retired the Spartans in the same fashion with a strikeout, a pop-up to Cappetta and a groundout to Cappetta.

After a pitching change to start the seventh, Argo knocked a one-out single to right and stole second. He moved to third on a wild pitch but was stranded there after a pop-up and a fly-out.

Kimes kept rolling in the bottom of the seventh, needing only seven pitches to retire the side on a groundout and a pair of fly-outs. After the Illini went down in order in the eighth, Kimes returned the favor in the bottom half on a foul-out, a great play by Parr up the middle and a fly-out to Argo.

In the ninth, Hohl led off with a base hit up the middle and McMurray singled through the left side. After a fly-out, both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Argo was hit by a pitch to load the bases and MSU brought in pitcher Ryan Martin to face the left-handed hitting Hendrickson. He went to a 3-2 count before hitting Hendrickson to force in a run. But a new pitcher came in and induced a fly-out to right and a foul-out to first base to keep the Illini lead at 9-1.

Kimes came back out to attempt to finish off the complete game and gave up a leadoff hit to Holm. A pinch runner came on for him and he moved to second on a wild pitch. Kimes battled with Boss, who fouled off five pitches, before Kimes won it with a high fastball to strike out the Spartan cleanup hitter. Kimes then coaxed a pop-up to Dittman and recorded the final out with a foul-out to Dittman to give Illinois the Big Ten Tournament championship.

Every Illini batter had at least one hit, with Hohl leading the way with a 2-for-3 night in which he tripled, drove in a run, walked twice and scored twice. Argo was 2-for-3 with a walk, a steal and a run, and Davis went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run. Dittman went 1-for-5 with the grand slam home run and Josh Parr was 2-for-5 with a double, a steal, an RBI and a run.

The Illini will await their regional assignment for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which they will discover during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday at 11:30 a.m. CT on ESPN. Regional play begins Friday, June 3.