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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State travels to Champaign, Ill., for a three-game set this weekend with Illinois. The series will have major implications in the chase for the 2009 Big Ten Conference championship. Here’s what the weekend looks like for the top of the Big Ten standings:

The Illini are in first place at 14-4, one-half game ahead of 13-4 Minnesota.
The 13-4 Buckeyes are a game behind Illinois and one-half game behind Minnesota.
Minnesota plays at 7-11 Michigan, which is in seventh place and needs wins and help to get into the Big Ten tournament. 
Fourth-place Indiana (11-6) hosts Northwestern and fifth-place Michigan State (11-7) hosts sixth-place Purdue (7-10).

This Weekend in Ohio State Baseball

No. 27 Ohio State (34-13; 13-5/3rd Big Ten Conference)

Game 48 at  No. 25 Illinois (31-14; 14-4/1st Big Ten Conference)
Friday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Illinois Field (1,500)
 
Game 49 at Illinois
Saturday, May 9, 4 p.m.

Game 50 at Illinois
Sunday, May 10, 2 p.m.

All times EDT

BROADCAST RADIO
103.9 WTDA Talk FM

INTERNET AUDIO & LIVE STATS
OhioStateBuckeyes.com
  
SECOND RANKED-RANKED SERIES
Illinois is ranked 25th by Collegiate Baseball; Ohio State 27th. This is the second time this season that Ohio State is playing a ranked Big Ten team after playing 25th-ranked Minnesota the second week of the Big Ten season. 

WEEKEND STARTERS
The probable starting pitchers for the two teams this weekend looks like this:

G1 Fri. –  RHP Alex Wimmers (8-1; 2.79) vs.
           LHP Phil Haig (6-2; 4.48)
G2 Sat. –  RHP Dean Wolosiansky (10-1; 5.19) vs.   
           RHP Ben Reeser (3-0; 2.85)
G3 Sat. –  LHP Eric Best (6-3; 5.01) vs. 
           RHP Bryan Roberts (5-2; 5.64)

BROADCAST/WEB SITE AUDIO
The entire Ohio State/Illinois series will be broadcast over the air by WTDA 103.9 Talk FM and it will also be streamed online to OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Live stats are there, too.   

THE CLIMB TO THE TOP
Ohio State has won five of six Big Ten series to get to 13-5: 3-0 sweeps over Michigan State and at Purdue; 2-1 wins at Penn State and vs. Northwestern and Michigan; and a 2-1 loss at Minnesota. Coach Dan Hartleb’s fourth Illinois team has won five series, too, with three 3-0 sweeps (vs. MSU, at Penn State and at NU), 2-1 wins at Michigan and vs. Minnesota, and a 2-1 loss at home to Indiana.

STATS COMPARISON
Here’s a quick look at each team’s overall and Big Ten Conference stats and stat leaders:

Ohio State is batting .329 in all games and .314 vs. the Big Ten. Ryan Dew (.396 with 6 HRs), Dan Burkhart (.380 and 8 HRs) and Michael Stephens (.364) lead the way with Burkhart also leading in RBI (51) and Stephens leading in HRs (10) and ranking second in RBI (47). Justin Miller (7 HRs; 41 RBI), Zach Hurley (6 and 45, respectively) and Matt Streng (8 and 31) also slug well.
Illinois is hitting .321 overall and .340 vs. the Big Ten with Brandon Wikoff (.385), Dominic Altobelli (.374; 6 HRs and 48 RBI), Willie Argo (.348; 11 HRs and 39 RBI) and Aaron Johnson (.345; 8 HRs and 46 RBI) most dangerous.
Team ERAs: Ohio State’s are 5.64 overall and 4.58 vs. the Big Ten; Illinois’ are 4.70 and 4.83.
OSU fielding: .965; UI fielding: .969.

THE OSU vs. UI SERIES
Ohio State vs. Illinois has always been a competitive series. All-time, Ohio State leads the series, 95-87-2. Ohio State won the series last year, 2-1, with the fourth game cancelled due to inclement weather. The teams met in the 2008 Big Ten tournament, with the Illini claiming a 3-2 win. Here’s more series lore: 

Ohio State has won four consecutive series at Bill Davis Stadium.
The 2007 series at Illinois Field was contested in inclement weather. It was shortened after each team had won once.
Illinois swept in 2005 at Illinois Field, 4-0.
Illinois leads in all-time series wins in series played in Champaign with three series wins, two losses and four ties.
The last time the teams met, Kevin Manson pitched a complete game and Joe Bonadonna’s seventh-inning home run his first of the year was the difference in Illinois’ 3-2 win at the 2008 Big Ten tournament. Manson gave up two unearned runs in the second inning and then retired 22 of the final 24 batters.

2008 OSU/UI SERIES STATS REVIEW
Justin Miller had nine RBI and hit .438 (7-for-16) last year vs. Illinois. Dan Burkhart hit .615 (8-for-13) with four RBI, Zach Hurley hit .462 (6-for-13) with five runs, including a then-career high four-hit Game 1. Cory Rupert hit .333 with five RBI with a career-high four RBI in Game 3. Eric Best was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three relief appearances and 4.0 IP.

CELEBRATING GOOD PEOPLE
Bob Todd, the winningest coach in Ohio State history and who is just 11 wins shy of 1,000 for his career, was honored during Illinois weekend last year on his induction into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. Marty Karow, Ohio State skipper from 1951 until 1976 and who led the Buckeyes to four College World Series, had his jersey No. 13 retired that weekend as well.

WIMMERS NETS NATIONAL AWARDS
Alex Wimmers’ no-hitter Saturday, May 2, against Michigan earned the sophomore a handful of awards and accolades. The 14-strikeout, nine-inning gem earned Wimmers the following awards this week:

“Louisville Slugger” National Player of the Week (for the second time this season);
  Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Week (for the fourth time this season);
  College Baseball Foundation & Hall of Fame’s National All-Star Lineup (for the third time);
 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pro-Line Athletic Pitcher of the Week; and
USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Spotlight Player of the Week.

TODD 11 WINS FROM 1,000
Coach Bob Todd is just 11 wins from 1,000 for
his career. He is 989-530-2 in his 26th season overall and 22nd season at Ohio State.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Jake Hale and Alex Wimmers have each been named to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List. Hale is also in the running for the fifth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award.

47 GAMES UNTIL FIRST STREAK
Ohio State is on its first multi-game losing streak of the season. Quite remarkable when one considers the team played its first 21 games on the road and 27 of its first 29. The team has lost three consecutive games and been outscored, 42-12. OSU lost to Michigan Sunday and at Louisville in a pair of midweek games.

SCORE EARLY, SCORE OFTEN…WIN
Ohio State has reached 34 wins by scoring early and often. The team is 22-2 when scoring first (and 12-11 when it does not) and 27-7 when scoring six or more runs (vs. a 7-6 mark when scoring less than five runs).

LEAD AFTER 7…WIN
Behind terrific work from set-up man Drew Rucinski and closer Jake Hale, Ohio State is 29-0 this season when leading after the seventh.

SPEAKING OF RUNS…
Ohio State has had 16 five-run or more innings this season (with a high of eight in the B3 vs. UConn) while OSU’s opponents have eight five-or-more run innings with a high of seven by Maine (B4) and Minnesota (G3, B2).

Click on the attached Ohio State vs. Illinois release for tons of additional information, statistics and good stuff. Click on the Illinois stats pdf for Illinois stats and recent box scores.

###OhioStateBuckeyes.com###