COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State opens its 126th season of baseball by participating in the inaugural BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge, sponsored by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission of Florida. Ohio State plays Notre Dame at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, to open its season and follows that with games Saturday and Sunday against Connecticut and Cincinnati, respectively.
All 10 of the Big Ten’s baseball-playing institutions will compete. Eight BIG EAST representatives will participate: South Florida, Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Notre Dame.
Eight games will be played daily between the two conferences along with one contest between two Big Ten schools. Games will be played in the various major league spring training venues in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, including Bright House Field, Dunedin Stadium and Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field.
For complete schedule of games, stadium locations and directions, visit bigeastbigtenchallenge.com or click on the above link.
Ohio State Baseball This Week
Ohio State (30-26, 15-15 Big Ten)
BIG EAST-BIG TEN CHALLENGE
Game 1: vs. Notre Dame
(33-21-1; 16-10 BIG EAST in 2008)
Friday, Feb. 20 – 7 p.m.
Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin, Fla.
Game 2: vs. Connecticut
(27-28; 11-16 BIG EAST in 2008)
Saturday, Feb. 21 – 4 p.m.
Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Fla.
Game 3: vs. Cincinnati
(39-20; 19-8 BIG EAST in 2008)
Sunday, Feb. 22 – 10 a.m.
Red McEwen Field, Tampa, Fla.
HOME and AWAY DESIGNATIONS
Ohio State will be the home team in the games vs. Notre Dame and Cincinnati and it will be the visitor vs. Connecticut.
FOLLOW THE ACTION via LIVE STATS
Track every hit and play of every game this baseball season through Live Stats, available on OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Click on the Live Stats link on the main home page in the upper right hand corner or through the baseball schedule page to access.
Follow the Buckeyes on 103.9 WTDA Talk FM starting with the Big Ten Conference series opener vs. Penn State, March 27.
OHIO STATE vs. NOTRE DAME
In its opening game of the season, Ohio State and Notre Dame meet for the 44th time overall and the first time since a June 2002 NCAA regional game in South Bend, Ind., that Notre Dame won, 9-6. The series between the schools dates back to 1902, with the Fighting Irish leading, 26-18.
OHIO STATE vs. UCONN
The game Saturday at 4 p.m. will mark only the sixth meeting between the two schools, with the Bucks leading the series, 4-2. Last year, the two teams met in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Ohio State winning, 6-4. The series dates to 1970 with all six games played in the state of Florida. Ohio State has won three consecutive over UCONN. The teams will meet next week as well: at the Kennel Club Classic at the University of North Florida.
OHIO STATE vs. CINCINNATI
The final game for Ohio State in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge pits the Buckeyes against in-state rival Cincinnati for the first time since the 2003 season. The series is one of the oldest on record for Ohio State, dating back to 1891. Ohio State leads the all-time series, 64-20-2. Coach Bob Todd’s Buckeyes are 8-2 vs. UC and have won six consecutive games. During that streak, Ohio State has outscored UC, 82-22, including a 17-0 win in the last meeting (2003 season).
FIRST 21 GAMES IN FLORIDA
Nothing like a glass of fresh Florida orange juice to start a day and the Buckeyes will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the delicious beverage as the team will play its first 21 games in the “Sunshine State.” Trips will take the team to St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Winter Haven, West Palm Beach and Miami. The Bucks open against Notre Dame and close vs. Miami.
Ohio State will play its first 24 games on the road and 27 of its first 29 away from Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes don’t play at home until March 31 (vs. Xavier). The team’s first two Big Ten weekends are on the road: at Penn State (March 27-29) and at Minnesota (April 3-5). Two of the three games vs. Minnesota will be played in the Metrodome.
BEAST OF A BIG EAST SCHEDULE
Ohio State plays seven games against BIG EAST teams this season, including six games against teams picked to finish in the top six of the league this year. Ohio State will play two games at preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST Louisville plus games against the Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 11 teams (Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Connecticut [two] and Pittsburgh, respectively).
7 + 6 = EXPERIENCE
Ohio State will open the season with an experienced bunch of players as seven position player starters and six pitchers with significant innings in 2008 are a part of 21 returning lettermen for 22nd year coach Bob Todd. The team will be seeking its 15th Big Ten Conference championship this season, the seventh under coach Bob Todd and the first since the 2001 season.
INFIELD IS INTACT
The entire starting infield from last season C Dan Burkhart, 1B Justin Miller, 2B Cory Kovanda, 3B Cory Rupert and SS Tyler Engle returns intact. Miller, a senior captain, and juniors Kovanda and Rupert have started for two years now and have 331 starts between them. Burkhart and Engle are sophomores.
JAKE, BEST & THE SOPHS
The pitching corps’ experience is headlined by senior RHP Jake Hale, who has made 26 starts among his 52 appearances, and junior LHP Eric Best (46 appearances with eight saves). Expect to see both of those players anchoring the bullpen this season.
A quartet of sophomores also return. All gained valuable playing time last season as either a starter (RHP Dean Wolosiansky and LHP Andrew Armstrong) or as a reliever (RHPs Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski). All four sophomores could end up in the starting rotation this season for the Buckeyes. Stay tuned.
ROAMING THE OUTFIELD
Three outfielders return who have combined for 161 starts: senior Michael Arp and juniors Zach Hurley and Ryan Dew. They’ll be joined by juco transfer Michael Stephens to give Ohio State a flexible unit and a competitive situation where the hot bats will be in the lineup.
MILLER REPEATS AS CAPTAIN
Justin Miller will captain the team this season and thus becomes only the 14th multi-season captain in OSU baseball history.
2009 SEASON NOTES …
Ohio State’s roster includes three seniors, 11 juniors, 11 sophomores and eight freshmen … Ohio State will play games against three teams that are ranked in the preseason by either Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, PING! Baseball or NCBWA (Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Kent State) … A new ticket booth has been built at Bill Davis Stadium, just outside the main concourse behind home plate … A new outfield wall has been installed, too … The outfield wall will include plaques for the retired jerseys of Marty Karow (13), Fred Taylor (27) and Steve Arlin (22) … Big Ten series now consist of three nine-inning games instead of the four-game series that has been in place since 1981 … For the first time since 1994, the Big Ten tournament will be played at a neutral site. In December 2008 the Big Ten elected to move the tournament and the choice was Columbus, Ohio’s new Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
A LOOK BACK AT 2008…
Ohio State is coming off a 30-26 season that included a 15-15 mark in the Big Ten Conference. The team extended its Big Ten record by advancing to the Big Ten tournament for a 12th consecutive year.
The Buckeyes compete in the University of North Florida’s Kennel Club Classic, a seven-game, four-team tournament held at UNF’s Harmon Stadium. Competing teams include the host Osprey, Buckeyes, Connecticut and George Mason.
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