COLUMBUS, Ohio Three wins at the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge last weekend earned the Ohio State baseball team a national ranking by Collegiate Baseball newspaper and a slew of individual honors with three Buckeyes named to the 18-man all-tournament team, one selected co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and a fourth named honorable mention all-tourney.

Collegiate Baseball, which publishes the longest-running college baseball poll, released its first regular season poll Monday and the Buckeyes were ranked 30th nationally. The Top 30 ranking comes after Ohio State defeated three of the top six teams in the BIG EAST Conference preseason poll: 2-0 over Notre Dame, 6-4 over UConn and 6-5 over Cincinnati. The wins helped the Big Ten win the Challenge, 15 wins to nine. 

The Buckeyes came through the tournament unbeaten on the strength of excellent pitching, expert fielding and competitive and opportunistic plate appearances. The pitching staff’s 3.00 earned run average and .232 opponents’ batting average were each second among the 18 teams. The Buckeye fielders led all teams with a .991 fielding percentage (one error in 110 chances). And the offense may have been in the middle of the pack in terms of batting average (.290), but the team’s leadoff hitters reached base 48 percent of the time and they drove in a runner from third base with less than two outs 71 percent of the time.
The three Buckeyes on the all-tournament team included left fielder/designated hitter Ryan Dew (Columbus), starting pitcher Alex Wimmers (Cincinnati) and relief pitcher Drew Rucinski (Broken Arrow, Okla.). Starting pitcher Andrew Armstrong (Bridgewater, Va.) was named to the tournament’s honorable mention list. Rucinski was also chosen as the co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. 

A quick look at the accomplishments of the quartet:

  • Dew, from Worthington Kilbourne H.S., had the third highest batting average of all players at the 18-team tournament as he went 6-for-10 (.600) with two runs scored. He had hits in all three games including a career-high four hits in the 6-4 win over Connecticut.
  • Wimmers, making his first collegiate start, pitched 6.0 innings of no-run ball to pick up his first collegiate win in the 2-0 season opening victory over Notre Dame. The Archbishop Moeller graduate struck out seven, walked two and scattered six hits. He struck out the side in the first inning and expertly pitched his way out of trouble in the third two pop-outs with men on first and third and sixth two-out strikeout with the bases loaded innings, respectively.
  • Rucinski, from Tulsa Union H.S., picked up the save against Notre Dame and the win vs. Cincinnati by pitching a combined 6.1 innings in the two tense games without allowing a run. Rucinski allowed just three hits, struck out six, walked one and allowed opposing batters to hit just .143 in the two games.
  • Armstrong, a graduate of Turner Ashby H.S., pitched a career-long 6.2 innings and didn’t allow a run while scattering three hits, striking out five and walking two in the 6-4 win over UConn. He allowed just five batters to reach base and only one runner reached second before exiting in the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead. He limited the Huskies to a batting average of .136, the fifth-lowest average of all pitchers at the tournament.

Ohio State will play two road games this weekend against North Florida, 2-2 on the year with two wins over Northern Illinois and two losses vs. Mississippi State, as part of UNF’s Kennel Club Classic. Also competing in the tournament and playing single games against Ohio State will be unbeaten George Mason (4-0) and Connecticut, which went 1-2 at the BIG EAST-Big Ten challenge with losses to Michigan State and the Buckeyes and a 10-1 win over Northwestern.