COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State hitters supported the 12-strikeout of Alex Wimmers with a nine-run second inning and the Buckeyes cruised to a 13-4 win over Iowa in the first game of a three-game, regular season-closing set at Bill Davis Stadium. Game 2 will be Friday at 6:35 p.m.

The win was the 400th Big Ten win for 22ndyear Ohio State coach Bob Todd, and it improved the team’s records to 37-15 overall and to 16-6 in the Big Ten Conference.  Iowa is now 16-33 and 4-17. The Buckeyes remain one-half game behind Minnesota in the chase for the Big Ten championship. The Golden Gophers let a 6-0 lead slip away at Penn State, but scored an unearned run in the ninth inning to win, 7-6, and improve its Big Ten mark to 16-5.

The Buckeyes, who have scored 10, 12 and 13 runs in their current three-game Big Ten winning streak, sent 13 batters to the plate in the second and scored its nine runs off six hits and one error. Tyler Engle opened the inning with a triple, Michael Stephens had a three-run home run, his team-high 11th of the season, and Justin Miller continued his tear – he is 12-for-his-last-18 at the plate; .667 – with a two-run single to spark the Buckeyes.

Three more runs in the third inning, two of them on leading hitter Ryan Dew’s second double of the game, increased the lead to 13-0 and at this point, with Wimmers on the mound, there was no doubt about the outcome of this game.

That’s because Wimmers was good, again. He fought through stiffness from the long inning and pitched 6.0 innings, gave up just five hits, no runs, walked two and struck out 12 Hawkeyes to increase his Big Ten-leading total to 122 on the season. He struck out the side in the first inning and he struck out eight consecutive batters between the fourth and sixth innings. He improved to 9-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to a Big Ten-best 2.58.

Josh Barrera came into the game in the seventh and struck out the side. He followed with a scoreless eighth inning as well in his best outing of the season.

Kurtis Muller hit a two-out, ninth inning grand slam home run for Iowa’s runs. It was the second consecutive year Muller has hit a grand slam against Ohio State.

Zach Hurley led four Buckeyes with multiple hits with three hits and two RBI. Stephens had two hits, two runs and three RBI.

Miller, the team captain and Big Ten player of the week who is on a six-game hitting streak, had two hits and three RBI. In the process, he moved into sole possession of second-place in career hits with 263, passing Mark Carek (1995-98). He also moved his average over .300, to .301.

Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:

  • A four-day-removed-from-Mom’s-Day-moment in the Buckeyes’ nine-run second inning: in their first visit to Bill Davis Stadium, Lisa and Mark Stephens, parents to CF Michael Stephens, saw their son hit his team-leading 11th home run, a three-run shot to left center field. As Stephens crossed the plate, he blew a kiss to his Mom. The Stephens, including look-alike-little brother Ryan, flew in from California for the series.
  • Alex Wimmers, with 122 strikeouts this season, has moved into fourth place on the school single season charts. Scott Lewis (127 in 2003) and the great Steve Arlin (129 in 1966) are about three innings worth of Ks ahead of Wimmers. The single season record is 165 by Arlin in 1965.
  • These Buckeyes have 24 triples this season, just one off the school record set by the 1991 and 2006 teams. 
  • Three Buckeyes have over 70 hits: Zach Hurley has 77 and Michael Stephens and Ryan Dew have 72 each. Four more Buckeyes are knocking on the 70-something-hit door, too: Justin Miller (66), Dan Burkhart (64), Cory Kovanda and Michael Arp (63 apiece).  
  • Here is the top of the Big Ten standings: 1. MInnesota (16-5); 2. Ohio State (16-6); 3. Indiana (15-6); 4. Illinois (15-7); 5. Michigan State (12-9); 6. Purdue (9-11); 7. Michigan (9-13). The top five teams are in the tournament. Purdue and Michigan are fighting for the sixth seed.
  • Hall of Fame coach Bob Todd is now just eight wins from 1,000 for his career. His 400 Big Ten wins rank second all-time in Big Ten history.
  • Email. Twitter. Link in. Text. Facebook. Call. Interpersonally communicate with neighbors, friends and family. Walkie Talkie. Meditate. And even dust off the CB radios, good buddies. Use any and all means to let everyone know that Ohio State is playing Iowa Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Let’s pack Bill Davis Stadium for these last two home games of the 2009 regular season.