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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State baseball team doesn’t take a bus very often when it heads out on the road. The team typically flies non-stop out of Port Columbus International Airport or it will fly charter on about a 40-seat jet, boarding it on the tarmac while completely avoiding the experiences at the ticketing, security and baggage claim areas. This week, however, the Buckeyes will be bussing approximately eight hours to and from Forest City, N.C., to compete in a four-team tournament hosted by Western Carolina University.

The Buckeyes, 4-3 on the season, will be meeting 1-6 Army Friday at 11 a.m., 5-2 Western Carolina Saturday at 3 p.m. and 1-6 Akron Sunday at 3 p.m. All the games will be played at McNair Field in Forest City, home of the Forest City Owls of the Coastal Plain League.

The Element of Camaraderie  Bussing to North Carolina this week was something first-year coach Greg Beals wanted to do. The time of the trip won’t take much longer than if the team flew into Charlotte and bussed to Forest City, and of course had to repeat that on the back end. And, Beals wanted the team to bond through a good old-fashioned road trip…similar to what players experience when playing in the minor leagues.

“This trip will definitely have that element of team camaraderie,” Beals said. “We’re calling this our minor league weekend. By bussing, spending time together on the road and watching movies, we’ll give our players the experience of how the minor league teams travel most of the time. It’s only to North Carolina, so it isn’t that long of a ride, and it really won’t take us much longer than if we flew.”

Geography 101  Here’s where the Ohio State players may pass through on their drive to North Carolina: they’ll cross over the Ohio River probably at Marietta, Ohio and will drive through Kingston, Beckley, and Princeton, West Virginia within the central region of Appalachia. Then it will be on to the Blue Ridge Highlands area of Virginia, home to Daniel Boone, the birthplace of country music and, of course, the Blue Ridge Mountains. And finally the trip will wind through the western part of North Carolina, through Elkin and Hickory on the way to Forest City, a town of 7,500 located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and at one time known as “Burnt Chimney”.

This Week in Ohio State Baseball

Ohio State (4-3 overall; 0-0 Big Ten Conference) at Forest City, N.C., Tournament

Game 8

  • Army vs. Ohio State
  • Friday, March 4; 11 a.m.
  • McNair Field (on McNair Drive in Forest City, N.C.)

Game 9

  • Ohio State vs. Western Carolina
  • Saturday, March 5; 3 p.m.
  • McNair Field

Game 10

  • Ohio State vs. Akron
  • Sunday, March 6; 3 p.m.
  • McNair Field

Live Stats (or at Baseball home page on OhioStateBuckeyes.com)

Twitter: @BuckeyeNotes

OHIO STATE TODAY  The Buckeyes, at 4-3 through the first two weekends of play, are one of only three Big Ten teams with a winning record. First-year Ohio State coach Greg Beals and his staff are working with a completely overhauled roster, one that includes 15 newcomers and returned just three everyday starters from last season. So far the Buckeyes are hitting .305 as a team and slugging at a .432 clip – percentages that each rank second in the Big Ten – while the pitching staff is sporting a 4.22 team ERA and limiting opponents to a batting average of .271. The team’s ERA is seventh in the Big Ten and opposing batting average is fourth.

THE OPPONENTS THIS WEEK…

Army – Led by head coach Joe Sottolano, Army is 1-6 on the season with a win over Davidson and a number of close losses, including two one-run decisions to Lamar. Kevin McKague leads the Black Knights with a .344 batting average and six runs scored while Chris Rowley has posted a 2.61 ERA with nine strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched.

Western Carolina – Head coach Bobby Moranda’s Western Carolina team has gotten off to a 5-2 start with wins over Manhattan and Morehead State. Cameron Dullnig, Stephen Notaro, Austin Schultz and Aaron Attaway are each batting over .300 with three doubles apiece. Jordan Smith is 2-0 on the mound with a 0.75 ERA and eight strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.

Akron – Under the direction of former Buckeye assistant Pat Bangtson, Akron is 1-6 on the season with a win over Lamar. Drew Turocy leads the Zips with a .360 batting average, two doubles, two home runs and four runs batted in while Andrew Brown has a 1.32 ERA with six strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched. Longtime Ohio State assistant Greg Cypret, father of Ohio State’s starting seccond baseman Ryan Cypret, is in his first year as a Zip assistant.

BUCKEYES TAKE 3 OF 4 FROM WMU  Ohio State is coming off a three-win-in-four-games weekend at Port Charlotte, Fla. The team met Western Michigan four times as part of the Snowbird Classic, winning Friday, 4-3, splitting a double header Saturday with a 7-4 loss followed by a 22-6 win, and closing out the series Sunday with a 4-2 victory. Some weekend highlights…

  • The first home runs of the season were hit by Buckeyes in the warm air of South Florida. Four different players hit their first collegiate home run – Josh Dezse, David Corna, Ryan Cypret and Brad Hutton – and Brad Hallberg also homered, the second of his career.
  • Corna’s HR was a grand slam, part of a six-RBI, three-runs scored day for the junior from Cincinnati and Moeller H.S.
  • Cypret and Hutton hit back-to-back HRs in Game 3, shots that erased a 1-0 deficit and sparked the team to its 4-2 win.
  • Drew Rucinski pitched 7.0 solid innings in Game 1 to lift the Buckeyes to that win.
  • The 22 runs in Game 3 included four-runs-scored games from Hallberg and Cypret, and multi-RBIs from Corna (6), Hallberg (3), Dezse (3) and Tyler Engle, Matt Streng, Cypret and Greg Solomon with two apiece.
  • Four relievers – Theron Minium, David Fathalikhani, Andrew Armstrong and Dezse – did not allow a run and walked just one in 6.1 innings in the series clinching, 4-2 Game 4 win.
  • The relief pitching corps, for the weekend, sported a 1.98 earned run average in 13.2 innings pitched with nine strikeouts, four walks and three saves. Six of the seven relievers did not allow a run.

@ BIG EAST/BIG TEN CHALLENGE  Ohio State completed play at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge the opening weekend of the season and went 1-2, including an 8-7 win in 11 innings over a strong St. John’s team that had led at one point, 7-1, and already owned convincing wins over Minnesota and Michigan in the tournament. It was the first win of the Greg Beals coaching era at Ohio State. Ohio State played well in a 2-0 Game 2 loss to No. 20 Louisville and let go of a 5-0 lead in Game 1 vs. Cincinnati only to lose, 11-5.

BBCOR UPDATE  Right now, the new BBCOR bat standards haven’t affected Ohio State. The team has five home runs through seven games…the same number the team hit last year through seven games. Only difference: Ohio State has five bombs by five different players this year; last year it was five by three players.

NOTES…NUMBERS…AND MORE  Ryan Cypret led the team with a .467 average at the Snowbird Classic last weekend and with 6 runs scored … David Corna slugged at a 1.000 clip and with 8 RBI in 6 games, he is averaging 1.33 RBI per game … David Fathalikhani has been a most pleasant surprise out of the bullpen with a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 IP with 6 Ks and 1 walk … Combined numbers for the team’s relievers: 3.38 ERA with 15 Ks, 9 BB, 26.2 IP and 3 saves …The team has lost Jared Strayer for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken bone … Josh Dezse leads the team with a .429 avg. and he also has a 1.59 ERA in four closing opportunities with two saves … Starters Drew Rucinski and Dean Wolosiansky have opened with season with 3.18 and 3.38 ERAs, respectively, after two starts apiece … 9 different Buckeyes have made their first Ohio State starts so far this year and another three have made their first collegiate appearance in a game … INF starters Brad Hallberg, Cypret, Tyler Engle and Matt Streng hav combined for 18 walks and only five Ks … The Buckeyes play their first 21 games on the road.

Like a North Carolina pulled pork BBQ sandwich, the attached pdf is full of tasty stats and notes and statistics and fun stuff to enjoy and digest.

Get to know Soph. RHP David Fathalikhani by clicking on the video link above.

###OhioStateBuckeyes.com###