Feb. 14, 2003
After sweeping through the Big Ten tournament and advancing to the championship game of the South Bend Regional in 2002, the Ohio State baseball team has some unfinished business to take care of as it begins its campaign in 2003. The Buckeyes missed out on the regular season Big Ten championship by only two-tenths of a percentage point.
The goal of the 2003 Ohio State squad, which is ranked among the Top 25 (NCBWA) teams in the preseason polls, will be to sweep the regular season and postseason conference titles and advance to the College World Series, a destination void of the Buckeyes since 1967.
Pitching to be Strength
The mound will be the strength of the Buckeyes in 2003 as they return a pair of eight-game winners and another who did not lose a game until his final outing of the year. Preseason All-America pick Scott Lewis, who earned the distinction as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a first-team all-league selection last season, led the team in ERA (2.84) and in strikeouts (91). He was 8-2 on the year winning his last eight decisions.
Also back are right-handed pitcher Nate Smith, a First Team All-Big Ten selection, and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman, who earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Smith went 6-1 with a 3.12 ERA as the Buckeyes’ fourth starter and Newman finished 8-4 with a 4.47 ERA in a team-high 94.2 innings.
At the Plate
At the plate and in the field, junior Christian Snavely is the top returnee. With an batting average of .360, the second team all-conference selection is at the top among returning players and had 81 hits in 2002, the most of the team. He had a team-high five triples and added 13 doubles and 10 home runs. He is expected to move from second base and his athleticism will allow him to play in the outfield or in the infield at first or third. Sophomore Drew Anderson and junior Brett Garrard anchored the left side of the infield, but Anderson, who had 37 RBI and made the Big Ten All-Tournament Team, will move to second base in place of Snavely.
Joining sophomore Mike Rabin in the outfield will be sophomore Steve Caravati. Caravati, a Big Ten All-Tournament selection in 2001 who batted .346 for the year, but missed the 2002 season because of an elbow injury, will take over in centerfield. Rabin, who batted .391 for the year, was a clutch performer at the plate in Big Ten games, when he had a .373 batting average.
Senior pitchers Kyle Brown, Greg Prenger and Nate Smith, as well as junior infielder/outfielder Christian Snavely will share captain duties for the 2003 Buckeyes. All captains were selected by a vote of the team at the conclusion of fall practice in October.
Ohio State Earns Top 25 Preseason Ranking
The Ohio State baseball team has been picked 25th by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Collegiate Baseball tabbed the Buckeyes 29th in its preseason Top 35, while Baseball America picked Ohio State to finish 35th in its preseason poll. The USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll had the Buckeyes picked 37th in its preseason prognostication.
Lewis Named Preseason All-American
Lefthanded pitcher Scott Lewis received preseason mention as a Third Team Preseason All-American as selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Lewis, the 2002 Big Ten Freshman of the Year was a First Team All-Big Ten selection and finished the year with an 8-2 record and a team-best 2.84 ERA. Lewis finished the year with a Buckeye-best 91 strikeouts in 92.0 innings and was named to the all-tournament teams at the Big Ten Tournament and at the South Bend Regional.
Six All-Big Ten Selections Return
Ohio State will be aided by the return of six All-Big Ten selections. Nate Smith and Scott Lewis were First Team All-Big Ten honorees last season, while Christian Snavely and Josh Newman garnered second team mention. Add Steve Caravati, a second team selection in 2001 and Greg Prenger, a third team honors recipient from 2001, and the Buckeyes will be bolstered by a total of six former all-conference selections.
Ohio State Jerseys to be Retired
This season, Ohio State will retire the baseball jerseys of players Fred Taylor and Steve Arlin and player and coach Marty Karow. The three jerseys will be the first retired in the Ohio State baseball program.
Taylor (1947-50) is best remembered as the head coach of Ohio State’s golden era of basketball after his teams made four Final Four appearances and won the 1960 NCAA Championship. However, Taylor wore No. 27 as a baseball player and became the school’s first baseball All-American in 1950.
Arlin (1965-66) is considered the top pitcher in Ohio State baseball history after posting a record of 24-3 in two his two years as a Buckeye. He held OSU marks for victories and strikeouts (294) until 1999 and his .889 winning percentage is the best in school history. He led the nation in strikeouts as a sophomore with 165. Arlin wore No. 22.
Karow (player 1925-27 and coach 1951-75) began his coaching career in 1951 and retired as the winningest coach in the history of the program in 1975 with 478 victories. Karow, who wore No. 13, guided the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the College World Series in his first season, but his career did not reach its peak until the mid-1960s when the team made three straight appearances in Omaha in 1965, 1966 and 1967. The 1966 season marked the only National Championship in school history.