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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nationally ranked and unbeaten Ohio State, 7-0 on the season and riding a wave of confidence and karma, travels to Winter Haven, Fla., this week for four single games against  Rhode Island, Northeastern, Maine and Central Michigan.

The games are part of the RussMatt Baseball Central Florida Invitational and all four will be played at Chain of Lakes Field, the former spring training home of the Cleveland Indians,  who have relocated their spring training to Phoenix this year.

For more information on the games, visit the RussMatt Baseball web site at www.russmattbaseball.com.

THE SCHEDULE
Ohio State will play Rhode Island and Northeastern for the first time in baseball, at 3 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, respectively before renewing series’ with Maine at 4 p.m. Saturday and Central Michigan at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The team will depart Thursday afternoon via commercial airline and return home Sunday evening.

Ohio State probable weekend rotation:
Fri. vs. Rhode Island – LHP Andrew Armstrong (1-0; 3.27)
Sat. vs. Northeastern – RHP Ross Oltorik (0-0; 9.00)
Sat. vs. Maine – RHP Dean Wolosiansky (1-0; 9.90)
Sun. vs. Central Michigan – RHP Alex Wimmers (2-0; 0.77)

NEWS ON THE OPPONENTS
Rhode Island
will be one “ram tough” opponent. The team is coming off the biggest win in program history: a 3-0 win at No. 8 Miami Tuesday night as Jr. Eric Smith threw eight shutout innings. The 5-2 Rams also have a win at NC State this year. Team BA is .339 and the ERA is 4.21. Four regulars are hitting over .400: Zoey Angulo is hitting .571 and is followed by Milan Adams (.500), Dan Rhault (.464) and Jeff Cammans (.429). The team has some power, too, with 10 home runs. RHP Tim Boyce (1-0 with a 6.30 ERA and 10 IP with two starts) is expected to go against the Buckeyes.   

Northeastern, which lost to Ohio State, 8-3, in 1991 in the only meeting between the two schools, is off to a 4-1 start, including 6-4 and 4-3 wins over Northwestern earlier this week in Winter Haven, Fla. Huskies RF Matt Miller is CAA Rookie of the Week after going 7-14 over the week with a .650 on-base percentage. LHP Ryan Quiqley (0-0; 2.08 ERA; 4.1 IP) is the scheduled starter. Matt Miller (.526) and Mike Tamson (.450) have combined for 19 of the team’s 47 hits. Northeastern is hitting .272 as a team with a team ERA of 2.80. The staff has 49 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 45.0 IP.   

Maine and Ohio State have also met just once: an 8-7 Black Bear win last year in West Palm Beach. Maine is 3-4 heading into two games against Fairfield before the Ohio State game. The Black Bears have not indicated a starter against Ohio State, but the staff has a 5.82 ERA. Myckie Lugbauer (.448 with 10 RBI) and Danny Menendez (.409 and 5-6 in SBs) lead the team’s offense.

Central Michigan, which owns a 3-2 series edge over Ohio State, is 3-4 this season and owns a win over nationally-ranked Wichita State already. Matt Faiman, Scott PHillion and Casey Ingle are all hitting better than .400 to lead the Chippewas. CMU has also not declared a starter for the Ohio State game.  

CLIMBING IN THE RANKINGS
On the strength of its 7-0 start, Ohio State is ranked in two of the four major polls with the highest ranking No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball. Ohio State is also ranked No. 27 this week by PingBaseball.

FOLLOW THE ACTION via LIVE STATS
Track the action 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.

7-0 START IS THIRD-BEST EVER 
The team’s 7-0 record ties for the third-best start ever for an Ohio State team with only two teams opening the season with a better record. The 1917 team opened 10-0 and the 1991 team won its first eight games.

HITTERS LEAD WEEK 2 CHARGE
After three wins at the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge in week one that was sparked by excellent pitching, the Buckeyes had double digit hits and runs in the four games last weekend in Jacksonville to improve to 7-0. Here’s a closer look of what transpired at the plate:

 Ohio State hitters averaged .349 and slugged at a .628 rate with 21 extra base hits and 13 home runs, including seven vs. UConn.
 Pitchers allowed opponents to hit .348 and gave up nine home runs with a 7.25 ERA in the hitter-friendly ball park.
 Five Buckeyes hit .350 or better and eight hit at least .300.

BURKHART NABS BIG TEN PoW HONOR
Catcher Dan Burkhart, who led the team in Jacksonville with 10 RBI and eight runs scored, and hit .474 (9-for-19), was named the Big Ten’s co-player of the week for his efforts. His hits included two doubles and two home runs.

ZACH ATTACK and DEW POINTS
Five Buckeyes are hitting .340 or better with Zach Hurley and Ryan Dew leading the way with scorching averages of .484 and 458, respectively. Hurley led all hitters last weekend and Dew did the same the first weekend. Here’s more about their efforts and those of the team:

 Hurley hit .500 in Jacksonville (11-for-22) with seven runs, eight RBI and two home runs.
 In the team’s last two games, Hurley went 9-for-11 (.818), including a double, triple and home run, seven RBI and five runs scored.  
 Dew hit .357 in J’ville with two home runs.
 Cory Rupert hit .353 with five RBI, and with seven runs scored he increased his team lead in that category to 10 runs scored on the season.
 Michael Arp (.333), Cory Kovanda (.316 with five runs, five RBI and a HR) and Michael Stephens (.300 with two home runs) also hit .300 or better last weekend.

MATT MAKES HIS MARK
Sophomore infielder Matt Streng made his first career starts in Jacksonville and responded by hitting .385 in the four games with two home runs, five RBI and a team-best .923 slugging percentage. Streng hit both homers March 1 vs. UConn, hitting one from each side of the plate. 

A NEW SCHOOL HR RECORD
It has  been established that five home runs in one inning – the B3 vs. UConn March 1 – is an Ohio State record. The NCAA mark is seven in one inning by Southern Utah. Five teams have hit six in one inning. Numerous teams have hit five. Ohio State joined that pack Sunday.

PITCHERS AMONG BIG TEN LEADERS
Three Buckeyes are among the Big Ten pitching leaders: Alex Wimmers is 3rd with a 0.77 ERA, T2nd in wins (2) and T5th with 14 Ks; Jake Hale is first in saves (4), appearances (5) and games finished (4); Drew Rucinski is 1st in wins (3),  2nd in Ks (15), T3rd in IP (13.0) and 9th in oppsing batting average (.213).

HITTERS A HIT IN THE BIG TEN
Ohio State’s early season prowess at the plate has positioned numerous Buckeyes among the league leaders; Zach Hurley leads in slugging (.839), is 2nd in hits (15) and 3rd in average (.484) and RBI (11); Dan Burkhart is 2nd in RBI (12), 3rd in slugging (.774), T4th in runs (9) and 7th in hits (12); Ryan Dew is 7th in average (.458) and 6th in slugging (.708); Cory Rupert is 3rd in runs scored (10).

STAFF LEADS WEEK 1 WINS
Three Ohio State pitchers – starters Alex Wimmers and Andrew Armstrong and reliever Drew Rucinski – each pitched at least 6.0 innings without allowing a run as Ohio State defeated Notre Dame, UConn and Cincinnati at the “Challenge.”

 Wimmers got his first collegiate win in his first start in the 2-0 victory over Notre Dame. He struck out seven, walked two.
 Rucinski picked up the save against Notre Dame and the win vs. Cincinnati by pitching a combined 6.1 innings. He gave up only three hits, struck out six amd walked one.
 Armstrong pitched a career-long 6.2 innings and didn’t allow a run while scattering three hits, striking out five and walking two in the 6-4 win over UConn.

HALE T4th IN SAVES; 2nd IN REACH
Jake Hale’s save in the 10-8 win over North Florida 2/28 was the 13th of his career, tying him with Trey Fausnaugh for 4th all-time at Ohio State. An arm’s-length away: Matt Davis’ 14 saves and Rory Meister’s 15.

For more statistics, analysis, notes and location information, please click on the attached RussMatt Invite release. For Big Ten Conference individual and team stats through games of March 3, click on the Big Ten Stats link. For a link to maps and directions to the playing fields, click on the “locations/directions” link.

###OhioStateBuckeyes.com###