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April 5, 2000

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With an early season showdown with Big Ten leader Minnesota looming this weekend, the Ohio State baseball team needs to continue the hard hitting rediscovered Sunday. Tonight’s opponent, the Oakland Grizzlies, should come ready to capitalize on their good play from last weekend. The Grizzlies are currently in first place in the Mid-Continent Conference after sweeping the Youngstown State Penguins. Ohio State will send freshman Kyle Brown (1-0) to the hill.

Scouting the Grizzlies
The Oakland Grizzlies (11-10 overall, 2-0 in the Mid-Continent Conference) enter the game on a five-game winning streak and winners in nine of their last 11 ballgames. The team opened the season with six-consecutive losses but have successfully rebounded since that time. Leading the way offensively are Nick DiPonio and Rob Brockman. Heading into last weekend, DiPonio was leading his team with a .388 batting average. Brockman was pacing the Grizzlies with five home runs and 19 runs batted in. Sean Boesch leads the team with six starts and has compiled a 1-3 record with a 3.77 earned run average. The Oakland head coach is Mark Avery. He is in his second season at the helm.

OSU vs. Oakland All-Time
Last year, Ohio State won the first ever meeting between the two schools, 11-9 in Bill Davis Stadium. Brandon Steen was the winning pitcher and Cory Cox earned a save. Trent McIlvain went 2-for-3 wth a RBI.

OSU vs. Oakland On TV
Tonight’s baseball game between Ohio State and Oakland will be televised locally by SPORT! Television. The game will be replayed at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, April 6 and at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 8. It can be viewed on either Insight Channel 26 or Time Warner Cable Channel 24. This is one of eight games to be televised by SPORT! Television this season. Swing and a Miss
In last week’s Big Ten opening series against Iowa, the Ohio State pitching staff totaled 38 strikeouts in only 32 innings. E.J. Laratta totaled a career-high 11 strikeouts in game one and Nate Smith matched the effort in game four. Along with the 38 K’s, OSU was even more impressive allowing just 11 walks.

Resilient Team
After 27 games, Ohio State has yet to lose more than two games in a row and have lost back-to-back games just twice. The first time OSU lost back-to-back games (at the Aggie Continental Airlines Classic), the Buckeyes went on to win five of their next six games.

Ohio State and Iowa Split
The Buckeyes opened the 2000 Big Ten season with a 2-2 split with the Iowa Hawkeyes at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won games one and four while Iowa swept Saturday’s doubleheader. The doubleheader sweep was the first by an opponent in the four year history of Bill Davis Stadium. In Friday’s 2-1 win, E.J. Laratta struck out a career-high 11 batters. In Sunday’s 11-1 win, Nick Swisher belted his first career home run at Bill Davis Stadium.

Smith Finding a Groove
After a rough outing March 19 at Texas A&M, sophomore hurler Nate Smith has given up just four earned runs in his last two outings. In OSU’s 11-1 win over Iowa, Smith went 7.0 innings, threw 128 pitches, struck out 11 batters and gave up just one run.

A Big Date At Minnesota
This weekend, Ohio State travels to Minnesota for a big four-game series against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota is currently 16-11 and in first place in the Big Ten with a 4-0 record. Two weeks ago, the Gophers swept the Michigan Wolverines and last weekend was their bye week. Offensively, Rick Brosseau leads the team with a .394 batting average and 25 runs batted in. Jason Kennedy is chipping in with a .330 batting average, 23 runs batted in and a team high four home runs. As a team, UM is batting .286 with 46 stolen bases. From the mound, Mike Kobow has been the most effective starter with a 3-1 record and a 3.38 earned run average. Brandon Kitzerow leads the team with four saves. The Minnesota head coach is John Anderson. He is in his 19th season at the helm.

OSU vs. Minnesota All-Time
The Golden Gophers have a 56-51-2 edge in the all-time series between the two schools. Although the two teams were not scheduled to meet in Big Ten play last year, the Big Ten powers did matchup twice, once in the spring and once in the Big Ten tournament. Minnesota won both games, 16-11 and 10-1.

Siebert Field
All games this weekend will be played at Siebert Field, the home of Golden Gophers baseball. The press box phone number is (612) 625-4031.

Travel Information
The Buckeyes will depart for Minneapolis on Thursday, April 6. The team will stay at the Courtyard by Marriott at 7800 Bloomington Ave., in Bloomington, Minn. The phone number is (612) 876-4206.

Big Ten Dominance
The Buckeyes enter this weekend having won or tied their last 22 conference series dating back to 1996. Ohio State has never lost a Big Ten series at Bill Davis Stadium.

Devastating Three and Four
Facing the Ohio State lineup means getting past the No. 3 and 4 hitters, Chad Ehrnsberger and Jason Turner, respectively. The duo are putting up All-American-type numbers. Entering this week, Ehrnsberger is batting .400 with seven home runs and 20 runs batted in. He leads the team with a .737 slugging percentage and 26 runs scored. Turner has been on a hot streak this entire season. The rightfielder is leading Ohio State in all three major hitting categories. He leads OSU with eight home runs and 29 runs batted. Turner has already been named the Big Ten Offensive player of the week, to the Aggie Continental Airlines all-tournament team and to the Service Academies Classic all-tournament team. He is one of two Buckeyes to have started every game this season.

Mr. Clutch
Leadoff hitter Mike Check has been blistering the ball with runners in scoring position. Entering this weekend, the junior leads the team with a .714 (15-for-21) batting average with runners on second and/or third base. Jason Turner is second on the team with a .405 (15-for-37) average with runners in scoring position.

Solid Win Over Shawnee St.
After opening the season with 22 games on the road, the Ohio State baseball team was excited to open the home season. And nobody showed it more then co-captain Jason Turner as he connected for his second career two-home run game as the Buckeyes defeated Shawnee State, 9-3, in front of 989 fans at Bill Davis Stadium. In his first career start, Kyle Brown tossed three shutout innings on 32 pitches, gave up just one hit and struck out two to earn his first career win (1-0).

Brown Gets First Win
In his first career start, Kyle Brown had the distinction of earning a win. After the game, Brown told the Columbus Dispatch: “The best feeling in the world is being out there playing Ohio State baseball. I took the start as a big honor…I didn’t want to let my teammates down.”

Postgame Interviews
Ohio State head coach Bob Todd and requested players will be made available in the Bill Davis Stadium player’s lounge at the conclusion of the game. The player’s lounge is located on the third base side of the Stadium.

Homestead Honors
On Wednesday, the Chad Ehnrsberger was named to the Homestead Challenge/David Sunflower Seed all-tournament team. The junior was Ohio State’s only representative on the team. He led the Buckeyes with a .471 batting average (8-for-17) with a home run and three RBI at the Homestead Challenge.

A Power Berger
All-American Chad Ehrnsberger flexed his muscle in the early portion of the season with seven home runs in just 23 games. He leads the team with a robust .771 slugging percentage. His home run against Kansas State was the 30th of his career, making him just the ninth player in school history to reach the 30 home run plateau. Last year, Ehrnsberger belted a career high 16 home runs in 62 games.

For the Fans
Fans will have more than just baseball to look forward to this weekend against Iowa. On Friday, OSU students can “Register to Win” a computer courtesy of OfficeMax and free posters will be given away. On Saturday, schedule magnets will be given away courtesy of State Farm. On Sunday, OSU baseball pennants courtesy of WOSU-AM radio will be given to the first 1,500 fans and the team will have an autograph session at the conclusion of the game.

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.

Ault Added to the Roster
The Buckeyes have added Ryan Ault to the team. Ault, an infielder, is a freshman from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. At Reynoldsburg High School, Ault earned a school record 12 varsity letters and all-conference honors in three sports (baseball, basketball and golf). As a senior, he batted .437 and was also a first team all-district baseball selection.

Getting Results
Results can be easily found on the Internet at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

OSU Season Tickets
The Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office has announced that season tickets for the 2000 baseball season are now on sale. The entire season is $128 and the Big Ten Grand Slam package is $72. Renewal applications have already been sent out to past season ticket holders. These applications can be renewed by either mail or via the Internet (www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com). Single game tickets are currently on sale and will be based on availability. Box seats are $10, general admission is $5 and student general admission is $3. Groups of 10 or more will be able to purchase general admission seats for $2 each. For questions or to order tickets, please contact the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-BUCKS or at (614) 292-6861.

Preseason All-Conference
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)
7. Indiana
8. Northwestern
9. Iowa
10.Michigan State

Preseason All-American
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.

All-American Ehrnsberger
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 Deck
This weekend, the Buckeyes travel to Minnesota for a four-game series. OSU returns home a week from today when they play host to Eastern Michigan at 6:35 p.m.