April 27, 2000
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State baseball team will have to go through the Illinois Fighting Illini if it plans to move up in the Big Ten standing. This weekend’s matchup pits the past two conference champions in a four-game series in Champaign, Ill. After winning the season series with Indiana, 3-1, last weekend, the Buckeyes (27-16 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten) enter this weekend in fifth place in the conference standings. On Wednesday, OSU pounded Ohio Wesleyan, 14-5. The Fighting Illini (29-16 overall, 13-7 in the Big Ten), currently in fourth place, struggled at Purdue last weekend, falling out of first place after being swept, 4-0. On Friday, the two teams play game one at 7:35 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 5:05 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale is at 2:05 p.m. All games will be played at Illinois Field.
The open date on May 10 at Bill Davis Stadium has been cancelled. Tickets for that game can be exchanged at the stadium gate for two general admission seats to any remaining home game.
Scouting the Fighting Illini
The Illinois Fighting Illini (29-16 overall) enter this week in third place in the Big Ten Conference with a 13-7 record. Last weekend was tough for the Fighting Illini as they traveled to Purdue and were swept in a four game series. But the Fighting Illini showed some fight during the week by rebounding with back-to-back wins. On Tuesday, UI defeated Illinois State, 13-8 and on Wednesday, UI defeated Indiana State, 8-3. Offensively, Andy Schutzenhofe leads the team with a .366 batting average and 47 runs batted in. He is second on the team with four home runs. Chris Basak has a team-high 16 stolen bases and is batting .328. As a unit, the Fighting Illini carry a .309 team batting average. On the mound, Jason Anderson is the team’s No. 1 pitcher. He is 7-2 on the season with 61 strikeouts and a 4.07 earned run average. Matt Vorwald leads the team with six saves. The head coach is Richard “Itch” Jones. He is in his 10th year at the helm.
OSU vs. Illinois All-Time
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series between the two schools, 79-72-2. Last year, OSU swept a four game series in Champaign, Ill. Kevin Goodrum and E.J. Laratta won games two and three, respectively.
WOSU Radio (820 AM) will broadcast games one, two and four live with the tandem of Herb Howenstine and Frank Fraas calling the action.
Sound Bites – Ohio State vs. Illinois
Some can’t miss notes on Ohio State baseball that will make your job easier
Entering today, Nick Swisher leads the Buckeyes with afour-game hitting streak. John Mayor holds the season-high hittingstreak after hitting safely in the first 14 games of the season.Jason Turner leads OSU with 14 games with multiple runs batted in.Jason Turner also leads Ohio State with 18 multiple-hit games. ChadEhrnsberger is second with 17 games with multiple-hits. Mike Checkcontinues to excel with runners in scoring position. This season,he is batting .613 (19-for-31) with runners on second or thirdbase.
Big Ten Rankings
In the latest Big Ten statistics, Jason Turner is ranked fourth in batting average (.383), second in home runs (10) and second in runs batted in (47). Chad Ehrnsberger is fourth in home runs (9) and fifth in doubles (13). Mike Check is ranked fourth with 17 stolen bases. Reliever Cory Cox is tied for second in the Big Ten with six saves. E.J. Laratta is ranked third with 70 innings pitched.
Trainers Go to the Bullpen
Joining the baseball team this weekend on behalf of the OSU Athletics Training staff will be Matt Schatzke. Schatzke, a 1996 graduate of Ohio State and a graduate of Otsego High School near Bowling Green, Ohio, spent this past winter as the head trainer for the 13-19-4 men’s hockey team. No stranger to the college baseball world, he was the baseball trainer for two seasons at Northwestern from 1998-99. “I’m really excited to work with Coach Todd and the team,” Schatzke said. OSU head baseball trainer Vince O’Brien and student trainer Jim Turk will be in Toledo, Ohio at the Ohio Athletic Trainers Association banquet. Turk will receive a student trainer scholarship of $1,000 for academic and athletic training success. O’Brien will be on hand to present his prize pupil the award.
Buckeyes Pound OWU
On Wednesday, the Buckeyes exploded for 14 runs on 15 hits to defeat the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops, 14-5, in front of 2,237, the largest crowd of the season at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU starting pitcher Kyle Brown improved to 3-0 on the season and Trent McIlvain paced the offense with three hits.
OSU Wins Indiana Series
The Buckeyes are beginning to make a move through the Big Ten standings. Last weekend, OSU won its first conference series of the 2000 season over the Indiana Hoosiers, 3-1. OSU won game one 13-5, lost game two 9-4 and won the final two games, 4-3 and 9-3, respectively. Jason Turner paced the Buckeyes with a .400 batting average (6-of-15) and tied Joe Wilkins for the team lead with seven runs batted in. In game three, Greg Prenger won his first career Big Ten start and in game four, the OSU defense set a Bill Davis Stadium record with six double plays.
Prenger Shines as Starter
After a couple of quality starts, freshman pitcher Greg Prenger has taken a spot in the starting rotation. In his three starts this season, the right-hander has thrown 16 innings, compiling a 2-1 record with a 2.81 earned run average. On Saturday, he led OSU to an important 4-3 win by going six innings before giving way to stopper Cory Cox. For the season, he is 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA.
In Sunday’s 9-3 win over Indiana, the OSU defense set a Bill Davis Stadium and school record by recording six double plays. The total ties OSU for the second most in NCAA Division I history. The Buckeyes became the 12th team to record six twin kills in a game. Coincidentally, Indiana was the last school to do it on March 4, 1995 against Kent. This season, OSU has totalled 43 double plays.
Changes at the Top
The OSU batting order had a different look over the weekend against Indiana with Jason Driscoll taking over the leadoff spot followed by Mike Check in the No. 2 hole. The Buckeyes finished with a 3-1 record and the duo combined to go 8-of-27 (.296) with seven runs scored. Check had been the leadoff hitter for 36 games this season and Driscoll usually hit in the bottom half of the order.
The Big Ten Tournament
Some changes have been made to this year’s Big Ten Tournament, to be held May 17-21. As always, the regular season champion will be the host school, but this year, the field has been expanded to the top six finishers in the conference standings. All six teams will play on the first day with elimination games beginning on the second day of play. The tournament still carries the double-elimination format.
The Buckeyes have never lost a Big Ten series at Bill Davis Stadium. In 13 series since the stadium opened in 1997, OSU has gone 10-0-3.
OSU Loses to Dayton
On April 19, the Buckeyes dropped a 2-1, 10-inning decision to Dayton, in front of 1,863 fans at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State starter Kyle Brown was fabulous on the mound, firing four hitless and scoreless innings. He threw just 40 pitches while allowing just one baserunner via a walk. The Flyers’ Shawn Bollinger led off the 10th inning with a solid single to rightfield and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Clint Beasley. After OSU reliever Cory Cox struck out Pat Rasey, Nate Winkelfoos singled, scoring Bollinger to give the Flyers a 2-1 advantage. Cox (3-2) was charged with the loss.
This weekend, the Ohio State baseball team will be back on the road away from the friendly confines of Bill Davis Stadium. This season, OSU will play a total of 12 weekends (not including possible postseason play) with only three at home.
Buckeyes Lose UM Series
On April 14-16, Ohio State lost a four-game series to Michigan, 3-1. OSU lost the first three games, 8-2, 2-1 and 3-2. On Sunday, the Buckeyes rebounded to defeat the Wolverines, 14-4. Chris Alvord led the Buckeyes with a .600 (6-for-10) batting average with his first career home run.
Big Ten Streak Ended
The series loss to the Michigan Wolverines ended OSU’s string of winning or tying the last 23-consecutive Big Ten series dating back to 1996. The series loss was just the 12th ever under Todd, who has won or tied 76-of-88 Big Ten series in his career. Ohio State has never lost a Big Ten series at Bill Davis Stadium.
Ehrnsberger Behind Mannino
Second baseman Chad Ehrnberger enters this weekend with a .355 career batting average, putting him in eighth place on the Ohio State all-time list. Former OSU All-American and current first base coach Brian Mannino (1992-95) is in sixth place with .362 career batting average and John Orkis (1981-82) is in seventh place with a .359 BA. The OSU all-time leader is Jason Trott (1996-99) with a .399 career average.
Berger Becoming a Big Mac
Chad Ehrnsberger also is climbing the OSU career home runs list after hitting his 32nd at Minnesota. He is currently tied in seventh place with Mark Chonko (1993-96). The OSU all-time leader is Dan Seimetz (1995-98) with 52 career blasts.
Driscoll Moves Into Top 20
Senior Jason Driscoll enters this weekend with 609 career at bats, placing him 18th on the OSU all-time list. The OSU all-time leader is Mark Carek (1995-98) with 823.
Turner Cracks Home Run List
Senior co-captain Jason Turner belted his 21th career home run last weekend against the Michigan Wolverines. He is now tied for 16th place on the OSU all-time career list.
OSU Defeats the Eagles
On April 12, the Buckeyes used a six-run third inning to beat the Eastern Michigan Eagles, 9-1. OSU starting pitcher Greg Prenger was solid on the mound for the Buckeyes, pitching four shutout innings to claim his first career victory. Prenger (1-1) allowed two hits and fanned five during his four innings of work. Trent McIlvain was the offensive star for OSU, going 2-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI.
A Split With the Gophers
On April 7-9, the Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers split a four-game series at Siebert Field in Minneapolis, Minn. On Saturday, OSU swept a doubleheader, 6-3 and 7-3. But the Gophers rebounded Sunday winning 13-5 and 7-1. Chad Ehrnsberger led the Buckeyes with a .462 batting average and six runs batted in. Co-captain Marcello Garofalo and fellow senior Jason Driscoll played well batting. .444 and .417 respectively.
New Stadium Information
More offseason changes have been made to Bill Davis Stadium. The main ticket entrance has been moved to the front of the stadium. Media and will-call tickets can be picked up at the ticket booth on the third base side of the stadium. Pre-purchased tickets can be picked up at either entrance. ADA parking is available down the third base side or directly behind home plate in front of Bill Davis Stadium. Parking conflicts will arise on dates that concerts have been scheduled at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Please allow time for possible concert and/or game traffic. Parking for baseball is free. Any further questions on ticket or parking matters, please call the OSU Athletics Ticket office at (614) 292-2624.
Cox and Turner Rewarded
For the week of March 20, The Big Ten Conference announced that Jason Turner and Cory Cox were named the Offensive Player of the Week and the Pitcher of the Week, respectively.
In four games at the Aggie Continental Airlines Classic, Turner put up some sensational numbers. The OSU co-captain batted .667 (8-for-12) with a double, home run and three runs batted in to help lead OSU to 3-1 tournament start. He recorded at least one hit in all four games.
Cox made a huge impact in just three innings of work. The OSU stopper improved to 2-0 on the season when he slammed the door on Texas A&M. In front of a hostile crowd of 3,550, the junior threw three shutout innings of relief to solidify OSU’s 8-7 win at Olsen Field.
Todd Wins No. 500
On March 19, head coach Bob Todd won his 500th game at Ohio State with an 8-3 win over Oregon State at the Aggie Continental Airlines Classic. Todd, already the winningest coach in Ohio State baseball history, entered this season as the 26th wininningest active coach in Division I baseball with a .658 winning percentage.
Spring Tourney Recap
The 2000 Ohio State baseball team took home 2-of-4 possible tournament championships this Spring. In the season opening tournament, OSU defeated Air Force to win the Service Academies Classic. The second tournament OSU competed in, the Kennel Classic, did not award a champion but the Buckeyes finished that weekend with the tournament’s best record, 3-1. In the third tournament, the Buckeyes defeated host school Winthrop to take home the Winthrop Stateline Classic Championship. At the Aggie Continental Airlines Tournament, the Buckeyes finished in third place with a 3-3 record. At the Homestead Challenge, OSU was the tournament runners-up with a 3-1 record. “We did some positive things this Spring,” head coach Bob Todd said. “Five of our losses were by just one run. In most of those games, just one more hit or making a better pitch could have changed the outcomes of those games. The bottom line is that we were able to give a lot of young guys some game experience in some hostile and pressure situations. This will only make us better for the Big Ten Season.
Winthrop Classic Champs
The third tournament of the season sent OSU to Rock Hill, S.C. for the Winthrop Stateline Classic. The Buckeyes again finished with a 3-1 record and took home the tournament championship.
Service Academies Champs
The Buckeyes opened the 2000 season by winning the Service Academies Classic (2/25-27). The Buckeyes finished the tournament with a 3-1 record, including a 5-4 win over No. 25 Notre Dame. Mike Check was named the tournament’s most valuable player while John Mayor, Jason Turner and E.J. Laratta were named to the all-tournament team.
In the Baseball America preseason poll, Ohio State is the highest ranked Big Ten school at No. 31. As a conference, the Big Ten was ranked as the sixth toughest in the nation. In their conference preseason prognostications, the Buckeyes are predicted to win the championship and earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Both second baseman Chad Ehrnsberger and pitcher E.J. Laratta were named to the preseason all-conference team. Laratta is also the preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Nick Swisher is the magazine’s choice as the preseason Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Ehrnsberger was voted as the conference’s best defensive second baseman while Laratta was voted as having the best breaking ball. To read more about Baseball America’s preseason prognostications, log on to their website at www.baseballamerica.com.
Baseball America Predicted Finish (rank)
1. Ohio State (31)
2. Penn State (41)
3. Illinois (56)
4. Minnesota (70)
5. Michigan (76)
6. Purdue (100)
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named pitcher E.J. Laratta to its 2000 Preseason All-America baseball team. The sophomore hurler was a third-team selection. Laratta returns after a stellar 1999 season. He carried a 10-3 record with a 3.74 earned run average and 59 strikeouts. At the conclusion of the season, he was named a Freshman All-American, first-team all-Big Ten and the 1999 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
The sophomore was the Big Ten Conference’s only representative on the NCBWA Preseason All-America team.
Chad Ehrnsberger was named to the 1999 National College Baseball Writers Association All-American team. A second team selection at second base, Ehrnsberger led the Buckeyes with 16 home runs and 73 runs batted in. These numbers placed him third in both categories in the Big Ten Conference. Ehrnsberger also carried a .356 batting average and a .648 slugging percentage.
Four All-Big Ten’s Return
Last season, the baseball team had nine student-athletes named to the all-Big Ten team. Of these nine, four have returned this year – first team selections pitcher E.J. Laratta and second baseman Chad Ehrnsberger, second team selection pitcher Cory Cox and third team selection shortstop Trent McIlvain.
On Wednesday, OSU plays host to Youngstown State at 6:35 p.m. in Bill Davis Stadium.