May 29, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio – With a 14-6 victory over Minnesota Sunday at Illinois Field in Champaign, Ill., Ohio State won the 2005 Big Ten Tournament championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The field of 64 teams will be announced Monday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN.
The Buckeyes know they will be going on the road since they were not named one of the 16 regional hosts. Those include: Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz.; Baylor in Waco, Texas; Cal State-Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif.; Clemson in Clemson, S.C.; Florida in Gainesville, Fla.; Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla.; Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga.; Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, La.; Long Beach State in Long Beach, Calif.; Miami (Fla.) in Coral Gables, Fla.; Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.; Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.; Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.; Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.; Texas in Austin, Texas; and, Tulane in New Orleans, La.
Ohio State did submit a bid to host a super regional round, but would have to emerge victorious from a regional, similar to how it did in 2003, when the Buckeyes swept through the Auburn Regional and returned to Bill Davis Stadium to play host to Southwest Missouri State in a best-of-three series.
The 2005 Ohio State team is 39-18 after going 4-1 to win the Big Ten tournament as the No. 5 seed and enters the NCAA tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams as winners of 19 of its last 22 games. The Buckeyes were 20-15 overall and 4-10 and in last place in the Big Ten after a 10-1 loss to Indiana on April 29, making Ohio State wonder if it would even be able to qualify for the conference tournament, which takes the Top 6 teams in the conference. The run helped Ohio State tie Michigan for fourth place in the Big Ten and enabled the Buckeyes to make a run at the seventh Big Ten tournament title in school history.
The Buckeyes batted .365 in five games in the Big Ten tournament after getting to the championship round undefeated. Minnesota forced a second championship game after getting a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win, but Ohio State jumped out to an 11-1 lead after four innings and cruised to a 14-6 win. Senior co-captain and outfielder Steve Caravati, the 2004 Big Ten Player of the Year, was named the Most Outstanding Player of this year’s tournament after batting .667 with a tournament-record 14 hits and 26 total bases. He had four doubles, one triple and two home runs to help bat in eight runs and score eight times. He had a slugging percentage of 1.238 and an on-base percentage of .692. Matt Angle (outfielder), Wes Schirtzinger (designated hitter) and Dan DeLucia (pitcher) also were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Ohio State beat Michigan (7-3 in 13 innings), Purdue (6-5) and Minnesota (15-6) to get to the championship round.
Senior co-captain and centerfielder Mike Rabin leads all Buckeyes who have played at least 50 games with his .333 batting average. He has 64 hits and has driven in 28 runs, while scoring 43 times. Angle, a freshman rightfielder, and Eric Fryer, a freshman catcher, are batting .318, while sophomore second baseman Jason Zoeller is batting .316. He paces the squad with 65 hits and has scored a team-best 48 runs. Senior first baseman Paul Farinacci has driven in 53 runs to lead the squad, which is batting .312. Caravati, who missed 11 games with a pulled hamstring early in the season, is batting .371 in 45 games. He has 52 hits, 33 RBI and 33 runs scored.
Ohio State is fielding at a .971 clip and led the Big Ten with a 3.81 ERA. Freshman lefty Cory Luebke led the team with 54 strikeouts, though DeLucia, a sophomore lefty, got the win in the championship game Sunday to improve to 5-5 on the year, has the best ERA on the staff at 3.12. Senior righty Mike Madsen and senior lefty Trent Luyster each are 7-3 on the year and each pitched complete games to help get the Buckeyes to the championship round.
The appearance in the NCAA tournament the 17th in school history and the 11th under 18th-year head coach Bob Todd, who has guided the Buckeyes to the tournament in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003. The Buckeyes also have made appearances in 1951, 1955, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1982. Ohio State has four appearances in the College World Series – 1951, 1965, 1966 and 1967. Ohio State was the runner-up in 1965 and won the last baseball national championship by a Big Ten in 1966. Todd has not missed the tournament in consecutive years since he first guided the Buckeyes to the tournament in 1991.
Ohio State has made three appearances in the NCAA tournament since 2000, but has not played in the tournament since 2003 when it came within two wins of advancing to its first College World Series since 1967.
Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to appear in more than one NCAA Super Regional. Its most recent trip was in 2003 when the team went 0-2 to Southwest Missouri State at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, Ohio after sweeping through the Auburn Regional with a 10-8 win over Clemson and a pair of wins of national No. 4 seed Auburn, 6-2 and 9-7. The other time Ohio State played host to a super regional was in 1999 when it welcomed Cal State-Fullerton to Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes downed the Titans 10-7 in the opener to get within one win of Omaha, but lost 11-5 and 13-2 to end the season. Penn State is the only other Big Ten team to play in a super regional. Todd is 17-20 all-time in the NCAA tournament.
In the old eight-team regional format (prior to 1999), the Buckeyes came within one game of the College World Series two other times under Todd, who became the Buckeyes’ coach in 1988. The Buckeyes were the runner-up in 1992 at LSU (losing to Cal State-Fullerton) and in 1993 at Georgia Tech (losing to Wichita State).