Biondi, Ballantine, O'Neill Among Big Ten Players to Watch

Feb. 12, 2013

PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- Seniors Patrick Biondi (Woodhaven, Mich./Divine Child) and Ben Ballantine (Napa, Calif./Napa) and junior Michael O'Neill (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) of the University of Michigan baseball team have been named to the Big Ten Conference's Players to Watch List, the league office announced today (Tuesday, Feb. 12).

Biondi, an outfielder and captain of the 2013 team, was an All-Big Ten second team selection in 2012 as he hit .303 with 11 doubles, three triples, a pair of home runs and a Big Ten-leading 32 stolen bases. He led the Wolverines in stolen bases, hits (67), runs scored (44) and on-base percentage (.408). Biondi also had a team-leading 18 multi-hit games and four games driving in multiple runs. He is just three stolen bases away from breaking Michigan's all-time record as he enters 2013 with 88 thefts at U-M.

Ballantine, a right-handed pitcher, made 15 starts for the Wolverines in 2012, striking out 41 batters and sporting a 3.98 earned-run average in 74.2 innings pitched. He earned the win on the mound at No. 15 Purdue on May 13, allowing just one earned run with a pair of strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work. Ballantine opened the 2012 season with a win against West Virginia on Feb. 19, striking out five and giving up just three hits and a run in seven innings. He has an opponent's batting average of .251, five career wins and 100 career strikeouts at U-M.

O'Neill, an outfielder, led the Wolverines in batting average (.327), slugging percentage (.525) and doubles (12) in 2012. He was fifth in stolen bases (19) and sixth in slugging percentage in the Big Ten ranks. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Week as a sophomore, O'Neill had six home runs in Michigan's first 15 games. He had 16 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI performances and had a .381 on-base percentage. O'Neill went 7-for-15 with three runs scored and three RBI in the Iowa series May 4-5 and had three RBI and a two-run home run in the Ohio State game on March 2. O'Neill currently stands seventh on Michigan's career stolen base list with 49.

All three Wolverines are on the U-M Leadership Council for 2013, while Biondi and O'Neill are two-time Big Ten Players to Watch recipients.

The Big Ten also released the top six teams in the 2013 Big Ten Coaches' poll. Indiana was picked to win the league, followed by Nebraska and Michigan State. Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois round out the top six.

Michigan opens its 2013 season on Friday (Feb. 15) at California. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PST in Berkeley, Calif.

Contacts: Kent Reichert (734) 763-4423

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