COLUMBUS, Ohio – As big a mid-week game as we’ll have at Bill Davis Stadium this year takes place at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday as the 26-7 Ohio State Buckeyes host 24-7 Kent State University, a team predicted to win the MAC and make the NCAA tournament.
This Week in Ohio State Baseball
No. 26 Ohio State (26-7; 6-3 Big Ten Conference)
Game 34: vs. No. 24 Kent State (24-7; 9-2 Mid American Conference)
Wednesday, April 15 – 6:35 p.m.
Bill Davis Stadium
Games 35-37: at Purdue (15-15; 5-3 Big Ten Conference)
Friday, April 17 – 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 18 – 12 noon
Sunday, April 19 – 12 noon
103.9 WTDA Talk FM (Purdue Games 2 & 3)
INTERNET AUDIO & LIVE STATS
OhioStateBuckeyes.com (Audio for Kent State & Purdue Game 1)
BIG TEN NETWORK TV
(Saturday & Sunday games vs. Purdue)
BOTH TEAMS NATIONALLY RANKED
Ohio State comes into the game ranked 26th by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and 28th by PING! Baseball and Kent State is ranked 24th by Collegiate Baseball. The two teams have numerous other similarities:
Ohio State has won 14 Big Ten Conference regular season championships, eight Big Ten tournament championships and has participated in the NCAA tournament 18 times, including 12 times under the direction of coach Bob Todd.
Kent State has won nine Mid American Conference championships, six MAC tournament titles and participated in an NCAA tournament eight times, including once under fifth-year coach Scott Stricklin.
TODD AND CYPRET KENT STATE TIES
Twenty-seven years ago Bob Todd accepted his first head coaching assignment on a college level after 11 seasons as an assistant coach at Missouri. That first job was at Kent State. In four years with the program, Todd, who also served as an assistant athletics director, never had a losing season while winning 124 games against 82 losses. His teams set MAC records for wins twice, and his last two teams combined for 73 wins.
Assistant coach Greg Cypret, who played at Missouri while Todd was on the Tigers’ staff, spent three years as an assistant at Kent State before coming to Ohio State with Todd in the fall of 1988.
IT WAS KENT STATE ALUM…
…and former Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Jeff Tabaka who first taught Ohio State sophomore Dean Wolosiansky about pitching. “The person who really got me into the love of the game was Jeff Tabaka, my first pitching coach,” Wolosiansky said. “Ever since those first lessons, late nights during basketball season, I never looked back.” Tabaka played for coach Bob Todd at Kent State between 1983-86 before a professional career that had him a part of five organizations.
THE SERIES HISTORY
Ohio State and Kent State are playing for the 48th time in a series that started in 1958. Ohio State leads the all-time series, 34-13. In their last meeting, the Buckeyes came out on top with a 5-3 win in 2004 at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
TEAMS HAVE MET IN NCAAs
Thinking of the NCAA tournament, an event that Ohio State and Kent State each last competed in 2007, the two teams have met twice in NCAA play. Kent State defeated Ohio State, 9-8, in the 2001 Columbus Regional and Ohio State defeated Kent State, 12-8, in the 2002 South Bend Regional.
OHIO STATE SWEEPS MICHIGAN STATE
On a sunny but chilly weekend in Columbus, and with a stiff breeze blowing into home plate virtually the entire series, the Buckeyes responded with enough hits and runs (the team hit .306 for the series vs. Michigan State), outstanding play from the mound (a 1.33 team ERA, just four walks and limiting MSU hitters to a .187 batting average) and excellent defensive play (one error and a .991 fielding percentage) to take the three-game series from the Spartans. Some of the highlights:
Alex Wimmers carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of the 6-1 G1 win. He ended up throwing his third complete game of the season while striking out 11 to improve to 6-1 on the season.
Relievers Drew Rucinski and Jake Hale did not surrender a run in 6.2 innings.
Zach Hurley hit .500 (5-for-10) with four RBI and a G1 home run. Tyler Engle (.444; 4-for-9), Ryan Dew (.375; 3-for-8), Dan Burkhart (.333; 3-for-9 with a three-run HR in G1 and four RBI, also starred offensively.
G2 and G3 starting pitchers Dean Wolosiansky and Eric Best pitched 6.1 and 5.0 innings, respectively, and neither surrendered a base on balls, to pick up wins.
WIMMERS IS POW, AGAIN
Alex Wimmers is the Big Ten co-pitcher of the week this week, the third time this season he has claimed the Big Ten’s weekly award. He joins Steve Caravati and Ronnie Bourquin as the only Buckeyes to be so honored three times in one season. Caravati was honored three times in 2004 and Bourquin three times in 2006.
KEEP AN EYE ON KENT STATE
That’s what Baseball America had to say about Kent State a couple weeks ago. “The Golden Flashes were the surprise member of the preseason Top 25, ranking 18th in the country. They fell out of the rankings after going 0-2 in early March, but they have quietly cruised to a 22-6 mark since. Scouts flock to see righthanders Brad Stillings (who has reached 95 mph and flashed a-plus slider) and Kyle Smith (88-92 mph fastball with life, along with a good slider and changeup) and lefty Jon Pokorny (90-91 with a good curveball). And scouts who see the Flashes come away impressed with them, not just for their draft-eligible talent but for their quality as a team.”
ALL-TIME AT BILL DAVIS STADIUM
Ohio State is 213-97 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .687 winning percentage. The team is 5-1 at home in 2009.
OHIO STATE RECORDS & NOTES
Ohio State is 14-5 this season vs. right-handed starters and 12-2 vs. lefties; it is 17-1 when holding opponents to five or fewer runs, 14-1 when scoring in the first inning, 19-1 when scoring first, 22-1 when outhitting its opponent and 18-0 in games that a Buckeye hits a home run. Here’s more:
Zach Hurley is the team’s leadoff hitter yet he leads the team in RBI with 39 (and ranks in the Top 3 in the Big Ten), he’s slugging at a .590 rate and he has a .436 on-base pct. The team leader in runs, hits and stolen bases, he also has 15 extra base hits (five of each variety).
Ryan Dew is hitting .429 (24-of-56) over the last 16 games with 15 runs scored and a .492 on-base pct. The junior continues to lead the team in overall (.389) and Big Ten (.419) hitting.
Tyler Engle’s career-best hitting streak has reached seven games. Now fully recovered from an early season leg injury that kept him out of 16 games, Engle has hit safely in nine out of the last 10 games (.385; 10-for-26 with eight runs scored and five RBI).
Set-up man Drew Rucinksi and closer Jake Hale are building one impressive resume this season. The duo has combined for a 5-1 record with nine saves and a 1.98 ERA. They have totaled 38 appearances already, 68.0 innings pitched, and 74 strikeouts against 21 walks. They are a huge reason the team is 10-2 in 2-run games and 23-1 when leading after the sixth inning.
The Buckeyes are averaging 12.0 hits per game and 8.5 runs while hitting .330 and slugging .510 as a team. Five players are hitting over .300, nine have scored at least 20 runs and eight have 10 or more extra base hits.
Cory Rupert has four hits, a run and two RBI in his last two games, including a pair of hits in G3 vs. MSU.
Starting pitchers have lasted into the fifth inning 21 times this season – Alex Wimmers leads with seven such starts – and the team is 18-3 in those contests.
WATCH BUCKS ON BIG TEN NETWORK
Ohio State’s games Saturday and Sunday at Purdue are on the Big Ten Network. Both games start at 12 noon. Friday’s game will only be broadcast on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Click on the attached PDFs for more notes and stats on the Ohio State Buckeyes and for a bunch of Big Ten Conference statistics.