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COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 16 Ohio State heads to Florida for the third consecutive weekend to begin the season, this time hosting a tournament in Port Charlotte.

The Buckeyes will open the weekend 1 p.m. Friday against Duquesne and take on St. Louis in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday. The weekend will close with a matchup at noon Sunday against Fairleigh Dickinson.

Ohio State rotation:
Fri. vs. Duquesne – RHP B. McKinney
Sat. vs. St. Louis – RHP A. Wimmers
Sat. vs. St. Louis – RHP D. Wolosiansky
Sun. vs. Fairleigh Dickinson – TBD

OHIO STATE NATIONALLY RANKED

The Buckeyes garnered Top 25 recognition in almost every preseason poll with a ranking as high as No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball). This week, Ohio State is ranked No. 16 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 21 (Rivals), No. 23 (NCBWA) and No. 25 (PING! Baseball).

FOLLOW THE ACTION via LIVE STATS

Track the action through Live Stats, available on OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Click on the Live Stats link on the main home page in the upper right hand corner or through the baseball schedule page to access.

A GRAND OCCASION

After a 42-win campaign in 2009, Ohio State head coach Bob Todd picked up win No. 1,000 against Richmond Feb. 21 in Jacksonville. The NABC Hall of Famer became the 41st coach in NCAA history to reach 1,000 victories.

HITTING THE ROAD

The Buckeyes will play their first 21 games on the road – 18 in Florida and three in Tennessee – before the home opener against Toledo March 31. In all, 24 of the Buckeyes’ first 25 games will be away from home.

A LOOK AT THE DUKES

Duquesne is 0-6 on the season after losing to Kansas State, Illinois State and Villanova last weekend. Sophomore Rick Devereaux leads the Dukes offensively, batting .500 with seven runs scored and a pair of home runs.

The Buckeyes are 3-0 all-time against Duquesne, with the last matchup a 3-2 Ohio State victory in 1997.

SCOUTING THE BILLIKENS

St. Louis is 3-3 on the season after dropping two of three at Central Arkansas last weekend. Sophomore Jerry Mancuso leads the team with a .481 batting average with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Mancuso has also tossed three scoreless innings on the mound. Junior Jon Myers is batting .333 with two doubles and two long balls for the Billikens.

The Buckeyes are 0-1 all-time against St. Louis, the lone game a 4-0 Billiken victory in 2008.

OHIO STATE vs. FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON

The Knights are 0-3 on the season after getting swept in a series at High Point. Stephen LaForge leads Fairleigh Dickinson after going 6-for-12 in the first three games of the season. Reliever Craig Warner has tossed four scoreless innings while striking out three.

Ohio State holds a 4-0 lead in the all-time series after sweeping the Knights in a three-game series in 2001.

BUCKS TAKE 2 OF 3 IN “CHALLENGE”

After coming back to beat South Florida 4-2 Friday in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, the Buckeyes knocked off Notre Dame 10-2 Saturday before falling to Cincinnati by a final of 12-4 in the weekend finale Sunday afternoon.

  • Michael Stephens garnered Big Ten Player of the Week laurels for the first time in his career after going 6-for-9 with four RBI, four runs scored, two double and a long ball over the weekend.
  • After giving up a pair of runs, one earned, in the first inning Friday against South Florida, Alex Wimmers settled down to strike out six over eight innings to pick up the win in the 4-2 victory. 75 of the junior’s 103 pitches were for strikes.
  • Junior right-hander Drew Rucinski earned his second save of the season, tossing a perfect ninth inning in the win over USF.
  • Senior 1B/DH Ryan Dew finished the weekend 5-for-12 with four runs scored and a pair of runs batted in.
  • Junior catcher Dan Burkhart went 4-for-11 in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge with three runs scored, an RBI, a double and a triple.

IT ALSO SHOULD BE NOTED THAT…

  • The 3-4-5 hitters in the Buckeye lineup combined to bat .469 (15-for-32) in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
  • Seven of nine Ohio State starters scored at least one run in the 10-2 victory over Notre Dame.
  • Dan Burkhart was named to the 2010 Johnny Bench Award watch list, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced. The award is given to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

CAN’T TOUCH THIS

Alex Wimmers has given up a leadoff base hit in just two of 14 innings pitched and has not allowed an extra-base hit so far this season. In all, opponents are batting just .128 against the right-hander.

Wimmers ranks first in the Big Ten in ERA for pitchers with more than one start, posting a 0.64 ERA in 14.0 innings pitched. He also leads the Big Ten in strikeouts with 15 and ranks second with the .128 opposing batting average.

BOOMER SHUTTING THE DOOR

Junior reliever Drew Rucinski, tied for the league lead in appearances, has done a solid job out of the bullpen for the Buckeyes going 8.0 innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out 10 while picking up a pair of saves.

A TEAM EFFORT

The Buckeyes rank near or at the top of most of the Big Ten offensive categories including: batting average (.330, 2nd), slugging percentage (.493, 2nd), on-base percentage (.437, 1st), runs scored (58, 1st), hits (73, 1st), doubles (16, 2nd), triples (4, T-1st) and walks (35, 1st).

The pitching staff has done its part as well, ranking second in earned-run average (3.23) and strikeouts (57) and fourth in opposing batting average (.272). The group has not allowed a triple or a home run on the young season.

STAYING “FRESH”

Outfielder Michael Stephens ranks near the top of most of the Big Ten offensive categories including: batting average (.522, 3rd), slugging percentage (.870, 4th), on-base perecentage (.571, 6th), hits (12, T-1st), RBI (10, 1st), home runs (2, T-4th) and total bases (20, T-3rd).

BUCKEYES SELECT CAPTAINS

Seniors Zach Hurley and Cory Kovanda were elected 2010 co-captains by their teammates at the Scarlet and Gray World Series victory dinner in October.

STARTING OFF RIGHT

The Buckeyes came through the first weekend unbeaten behind excellent pitching and timely hitting. Ohio State outscored their opponents 40-12. The 40 runs scored were the most in the first three games of the season since 1996. The Buckeyes batted .364 compared to just .254 for opponents and Ohio State pitchers posted a 2.33

ERA while opponents had a 10.73 ERA. Ohio State pitchers struck out 33 batters while walking just seven the opening weekend.

ROUND AND ROUND THEY GO

Eleven Buckeyes scored a run in the 20-9 win over Richmond including six crossing home plate more than once. Junior Matt Streng scored five runs against the Spiders.