April 29, 2000
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Ohio State first baseman Nick Swisher (Fr., Parkersburg, W.Va.) is officially on a tare. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate launched the first grand slam of his brief career to help lead the OSU baseball team (29-17 overall, 10-9 in the Big Ten) to a 6-1 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (30-18 overall, 14-9 in the Big Ten). With the win, OSU takes a 2-1 edge in the four-game series and sweep today’s doubleheader in front of 1,336 at Illinois Field. The grand slam capped off an astounding doubleheader for Swisher that saw him go 4-for-7 with three home runs and a double. OSU starting pitcher Greg Prenger (Fr., Harpster, Ohio) improved to 4-1 with the first complete game win of his career.
“I’ve been harping all year about mental toughness and we showed some signs of having it today,” head coach Bob Todd said. “We did a good job of rebounding from yesterday’s loss by doing the little things that good teams are supposed to do. We battled against a really good ballclub and came away with two solid wins.”
With two outs in the top of the third inning, the OSU offense went to work. Chad Ehrnsberger (Jr., Kalida, Ohio) and Jason Turner (Sr., Versailles, Ohio) coaxed back-to-back walks off UI starting pitcher Mitch Walk. John Mayor (Jr., Chesterfield, Mo.) then followed with an infield single to load the bases. The hot-hitting Swisher then proceeded to work the count full and then launched his eighth home run of the season to clear the bases and give OSU a 4-0 lead. Joe Wilkins (So., Grove City, Ohio) kept the offense going with a bunt single and then moved to second base on an errant throw by Walk. Trent McIlvain (Jr., Louisvillle, Ohio) immediate followed with a single up the middle to score Wilkins and give OSU a 5-0 edge.
“He gave me a fastball on the inside half of the plate that I was able to make good contact with,” Swisher said. “Our team came out ready to play from the beginning. Greg Prenger was impressive in game two and Cory Cox led us the way a veteran should in the first game.”
In the top of the fifth inning, OSU added another run to its lead. With one out, Swisher lined a double down the left field line. Two batters later, McIlvain sent a rocket that ricochet off UI relief pitcher Joe Sprengard for an infield single to score Swisher and give OSU a 6-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Illinois added its first run of the ballgame on a RBI single by Andy Schutzenhofer to cut the OSU lead to 6-1.
Prenger has now won three-consecutive games in his last three appearances. The freshman went seven innings, gave up nine hits, struck out four batters and threw 113 pitches. Walk (2-4) took the loss.
Tomorrow, the two teams return to Illinois Field for the series finale at 2:05 p.m.