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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State and Penn State open the Big Ten Conference season  with four games in Columbus this weekend. Three of the games the first three games of the series will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network will also be in Columbus next week and will air two of the games against Minnesota. That will conclude BTN televised games from Columbus in the regular season, although the doubleheader at Northwestern will be on the network.

  Ohio State is coming off a 9-1 win over Pittsburgh Wednesday that improved its record to 10-6. Andrew Armstrong, a southpaw from Bridgewater, Va., improved to 2-1 on the season by pitching 5.0 innings, scattering five hits and allowing no earned runs. He struck out five and walked just two. He retired 10 consecutive batters at one point. Penn State is coming off a three-game set against Lehigh last weekend and a loss to Canisius Monday. Penn State enters the series with a 5-12 record.

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-6)
(38-24, 15-15 Big Ten in 2007)
vs.
Penn State Nittany Lions (5-12)
(31-26, 20-10 Big Ten in 2007)

March 28-30, 2008
Bill Davis Stadium (4,450)
Columbus, Ohio

Friday, Mar. 28, 6:30 p.m. EDT
Sat., Mar. 29, 1:05 p.m. (DH) EDT
Sunday, March 30, 1:05 p.m. EDT

Series History: Ohio State leads, 49-25
Last Meeting: May 23, 2007; Ohio State 10-3

Broadcast information
TV: Big Ten Network, Games 1, 2 & 3
Radio: WMNI-AM 920, Games 1, 2 & 4

OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Live Streaming Video on Buckeye Vision, Game 4
Delayed Streaming Vid., Games 1,2 & 3
Live Stats for All Games

75th GAME IN SERIES
The first game of the Ohio State/Penn State series will be the 75th game between the two schools. The teams first met in 1958. Ohio State leads the all-time series, 49-25.

LAST YEAR
Penn State won its first Big Ten series ever over the Buckeyes by taking three-of-four games in State College by winning scores of 3-2, 4-2 and 3-2.

BUCKS AVOID SWEEP; WIN TOURNEY
A sweep by Penn State last year at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park would have eliminated Ohio State from playing in the Big Ten tournament for only the second time in the last 20 years. But the Buckeyes rallied in game four of the series, winning on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Tony Kennedy, then went unbeaten in the Big Ten tourney to win their eighth tournament title and advance to their 12th NCAA tournament under coach Bob Todd.

WIN STREAK TIED BEST ALL-TIME
Penn State’s three consecutive wins over Ohio State during the regular season last year was the first time it had won three consecutive in one season over Ohio State. Twice previously in 1995-96 and in 2000-01 Penn State has won three consecutive, but over the course of two seasons. Ohio State’s longest win streak against Penn State is 10 games between 1992-95.

AT BILL DAVIS STADIUM
Penn State’s appearance this year marks its seventh regular season visit to 12-year-old Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes have a 17-8 record vs. the Nittany Lions in the stadium.

THE MATCHUPS ON THE MOUND
Here is the probable order of pitchers for this weekend’s games:

G1: RHP Jake Hale vs. RHP Seth Whitehill
G2: LHP Dan DeLucia vs. RHP Mike Wanamaker
G3: RHP Dean Wolosiansky vs. LHP Mike Lorentson
G4: LHP J.B. Shuck vs. RHP Ryan Stobart

BIG TEN COMPARISONS & MORE
Entering this weekend, the two teams had these rankings within the Big Ten Conference (followed by a few other noteworthy numbers):

  • Ohio State ranked first in batting (.341), third in pitching (4.65 ERA) and eighth in fielding (.949).
  • Penn State ranks 10th in batting (.262), pitching (6.70) and fielding (.942).
  • Ohio State is 17-of-25 in stolen base attempts; Penn State is 12-of-13.
  • Penn State has eight home runs compared to five for Ohio State.
  • Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 202 hits.
  • Ohio State’s 72 earned runs allowed is tied for second-fewest in the Big Ten, but its 74 walks allowed are fourth-most.
  • Penn State pitchers have allowed the fourth-fewest bases on balls: 59. 

NEW FACES IN THIS AWESOME PLACE
Expect to see a number of freshmen in not only their first Big Ten action, but in their first big series at Bill Davis Stadium. Among those freshman who will see action this weekend: 1B/DH Ryan Meade; SS Tyler Engle; C Dan Burkhart and pitchers Dean Wolosiansky, Andrew Armstrong, Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski. All of the freshmen are true freshmen except for Wolosiansky, who is a red-shirt freshman.

TWO WHO ARE HOT!
1. Cory Rupert has already surpassed his 37-game RBI totals from a year ago. Rupert leads the team with 19 RBI and he has at least one RBI in 11 games. The team leader with seven multi-RBI games, Rupert ranks fourth in the Big Ten in the category. Here’s how the sophomore shortstop/third baseman from Mansfield, Ohio is doing it: by hitting a white-hot .600 with runners in scoring position.

2. Cory Kovanda is this week’s co-Big Ten Player of the Week. The sophomore second baseman from Columbus has been on a tear since he moved from the end of the batting order to the No. 2 position. Kovanda was hitting a respectable .296 the first seven games, but he moved to No. 2 in the order against Connecticut and since then he is hitting .600 (18-for-30) with 11 runs scored. Kovanda currently ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in batting average (.455) and on-base percentage (.500). 

A FEW OSU QUICK HITTERS…

  • Ohio State has won two straight over Penn State: 3-2 at State College that qualified the team for the Big Ten tournament and then 10-3 in the Big Ten tourney at Ann Arbor.
  • Ohio State’s Big Ten home series this year are against Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois.
  • Road series in the Big Ten are at Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa.
  • Coach Bob Todd had double knee replacement surgery in November. That’s why you’ll see Greg Cypret coaching third. Newcomer Pete Jenkins covers first base.
  • Seven “every day” starters are hitting at least .300 for Ohio State this season.
  • Cory Kovanda and J.B. Shuck lead the team, and rank among the Big Ten leaders, with .455 and .431 averages, respectively.
  • Sophomore Dean Wolosiansky leads the team’s starters and ranks seventh in the Big Ten with a 3.00 ERA.
  • Shuck leads in innings pitched 22.0 and with a 3-1 record.
  • Dan DeLucia has left with the lead in all four of his starts. Remarkable considering he had Tommy John surgery just 10 months ago. He leads the team with 23 strikeouts.
  • True freshman Alex Wimmers has 20 strikeouts in 13.0 innings.
  • Now that the team is off the road for 11 consecutive games, it probably won’t be eating at collegiate baseball’s iconic Golden Corral for a while. The team has dined at the “GC” at least six times this year. If you go: try the banana pudding.

A FEW OF THE STORY LINES
The 2008 baseball season is the 125th season of baseball at Ohio State. Baseball started in 1881 there were three years where a team did not compete and it is the oldest sport on campus. This is a story that will be with the team all season. Here are a few more notes that seem to be dictating Ohio State’s 2008 path so far:

1. 32 errors; 74 walks. The Buckeyes are a young team. Four true freshmen started in the infield Wednesday against Pitt – C Dan Burkhart, 1B Ryan Meade, SS Tyler Engle and P Andrew Armstrong – but the errors and walks numbers are a team issue and not only a rookie issue. Now that there are 16 games in the rearview mirror, a comfort zone should start to emerge.

2. Ohio State is 6-2 in last 8 games.  Despite the adverse situations that accompany errors and walks, the Buckeyes are 6-2 in their last eight games (after going 4-4 in the first eight). The team has scored 72 runs and collected 118 hits in the stretch for averages of 9.0 runs and 14.8 hits per game.
 
3. Ohio State is hitting .341. Ohio State, as a team, is hitting .341 and leading the Big Ten Conference. It doesn’t appear as if anyone will challenge Dan Seimetz’s single season home run record of 19 set in 1997 – the team has five home runs led by Tony Kennedy’s two – and the team may have trouble matching last season’s total of 21 home runs, but the players are putting enough hits together to keep the team winning and/or in games.

4. Starting pitching. Ohio State’s weekend starters overall are 7-2 with a combined ERA of 4.10. And behind them, a young group of relievers is emerging led by Drew Rucinski (1.50 ERA in 12.0 innings) and Alex Wimmers (4.85 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 13.0 innings).

5. Did we mention this is a young team? Three freshmen are getting extensive pitching action: redshirt starter Dean Wolosiansky and true frosh relievers Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski. And 80 percent of the infield is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. True freshmen Ryan Meade (1B), Tyler Engle (SS) and Dan Burkhart (C) have started 15, 12 and nine times, respectively, and sophomores Cory Rupert (SS/3B), Cory Kovanda (2B) and Brian DeLucia (3B) have started 16, 15 and four times, respectively.

Click on the attached PDF for more notes, bio updates and statistics.