COLUMBUS, Ohio– Ohio State completed play at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge this weekend with a 1-2 record and plenty of positive vibes in the wake of the 8-7 win in 11 innings over a strong St. John’s team that had led at one point, 7-1, and already owned convincing wins over Minnesota and Michigan in the tournament.
The win over St. John’s – truly a total team effort with 16 hits and eight consecutive scoreless innings by the pitching staff – came after Ohio State played well in a 2-0 Game 2 loss to No. 20 Louisville, a game where starter Dean Wolosiansky pitched 6.2 solid innings of baseball by allowing just one earned run and scattering five hits. Ohio State opened the Challenge by building a 5-0 lead against Cincinnati only to “down-shift” in the words of coach Greg Beals and ultimately lose, 11-5.
There is much more to this weekend that just was, though, and here are a few final thoughts a little over a day later:
Big Ten loses to Big East For the second consecutive year, the Big East won the Challenge by taking 14 of the 24 games. The Big East now leads the three-year Challenge series, 40-38.
Ohio State’s Opponents Louisville went 3-0 in the 2011 Challenge, defeating Michigan, 6-3, and Minnesota on a two-hitter, 3-0. Cincinnati was 1-2 with a losses to Illinois, 7-3, and Michigan State, 8-4. St. John’s had wins over Minnesota and Michigan by scores of 14-1 and 13-5, respectively.
Inside the Big Ten Michigan State led the way with a 3-0 mark in the Challenge with Penn State and Purdue each 2-1. Minnesota and Illinois joined Ohio State with 1-2 marks and Iowa and Michigan were winless at 0-3.
No Home Runs The new BBCOR bat standards in college baseball this year are designed to make the game safer. Bats still have a sweet spot, only a smaller one and everyone is expecting fewer home runs this season. Through the first three games, no Buckeye homers and no opponent home runs.
No Stolen Bases, Either Opponents were 0-2 in stolen base attempts this weekend as new Buckeye catchers Greg Solomon and Steel Russell each threw out a potential base stealer. Solomon also recorded a sweet pickoff at first in the St. John’s game and Jared Strayer picked off a runner from first vs. Cincinnati.
Say Hey Dezse Freshman closer/designated hitter Josh Dezse was named the Big Ten Conference’s first-ever baseball Freshman of the Week for his efforts this weekend. Dezse led the team in batting (.583; 7 for 12) and he also made two relief appearances, including working 2.0 scoreless innings and picking up the win over St. John’s.
Tyler’s Time Tyler Engle had a fine opening weekend at the plate. He hit .500 (5 for 10) with three walks and a sac bunt for a team-best .643 on-base pct. He not only had two multi-hit games (after having nine total last year), but he had one two-hit inning: the fifth vs. St. John’s. He also scored a run and drove in a run in the biggest inning of the year for the Ohio State team.
A Real Handful Five of Ohio State’s relief pitchers combined for a 1.50 earned run average in 12.0 innings pitched. Brett McKinney (3.1 perfect innings pitched for a 0.00 ERA) and Dezse (3.0 IP and a 3.00 ERA) were most impressive pitching on consecutive days. Andrew Armstrong and David Fathalikhani didn’t allow a run in 2.0 and 1.0 innings pitched, respectively, and Jared Strayer had a 3.38 ERA after 2.2 innings pitched.
Seven First-Time Starters CF Tim Wetzel, DH Josh Dezse, LF David Corna, C Greg Solomon, C Steel Russell, LF Joe Ciamacco and RHP Greg Greve each made their first Ohio State start this weekend.
Straight Stats We’ll close out the weekend thoughts with a few numbers:
That’s all for now. Up next: a four-game series against Western Michigan, a Mid American Conference team that Beals’ Ball State teams were 16-7 against all-time – in Port Charlotte, Fla. The games will kick off an 84-game Snowbird Classic that will take place over the next month.