COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State, which survived through a 2-2 weekend last week to remain nationally ranked for a third consecutive week – No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball – will look to strengthen that ranking with four games this weekend as part of the Palm Beach Baseball Classic. All four games will be played at the Santaluces Sports Complex.

Opponents for the Buckeyes this week include regional rival Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. Friday followed by games against first-time opponents SIU Edwardsville, Maryland Baltimore County and North Dakota State.

This Week in Ohio State Baseball
No. 25 Ohio State (9-2)
at the
Palm Beach Baseball Classic

Santaluces Sports Complex in
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Game 12: vs. Pittsburgh
(5-4 2009; 19-34 in 2008)
Friday, March 13 – 6 p.m.

Game 13: vs. SIU Edwardsville
(1-5 2009; 25-26 in 2008)
Saturday, March 14 – 12:30 p.m.

Game 14: vs. Maryland Baltimore Co.
(1-2 2009; 21-29 in 2008)
Saturday, March 14 – 3:30 p.m.

Game 15: vs. North Dakota State
(1-6 2009; 15-30 in 2008)
Sunday, March 15 – 12 noon

Ohio State probable rotation:
Fri. vs. Pitt – Alex Wimmers (2-0; 2.25 ERA)
Sat. vs. SIUE – Andrew Armstrong (1-0; 2.25)
Sat. vs. UMBC – Eric Best (1-0; 5.84)
Sun. vs. NDSU – D. Wolosiansky (1-1; 12.15)

Track the action through Live Stats, available on Click on the Live Stats link on the main home page in the upper right hand corner or through the baseball schedule page to access.

Ohio State didn’t have a very good experience at the Santaluces Sports Complex last year. The team lost two one-run games to Air Force (9-8) and Maine (8-7) and the bus got stuck in the mud before the team closed with a 6-4 win over UConn to wrap up the weekend.

Ohio State and Pitt have met 17 times since the 1942 season with the Buckeyes holding a 16-1 edge in wins, including 9-1 last year in Ohio State’s home opener. Andrew Armstrong pitched 5.0 innings without allowing an earned run to get the win. Cory Rupert and Cory Kovanda had two hits and an RBI apiece.

had its four-game winning streak end Wednesday with an 11-6 loss at No. 6 Miami. The 5-4 Panthers got a complete game win from David Kaye Tuesday in a 6-0 win over SIU Edwardsville. 3B Joe Leonard (.323 in 2009), SS Danny Lopez (.360 with 12 RBI) and 1B Chris Warrner (.200) each hit seven home runs in 2008. C Cory Brownsten (.389, 2 HR, 9 RBI) and INF Chris Sedon (.536, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 5 SBs) are also offensive threats. The team is hitting .303 and the staff has a 4.16 ERA.

SIU Edwardsville, 1-8 this season, is coming off a 22-12 loss to St. Joseph’s Wednesday. The Cougars play Long Island Friday. The Cougars are transitioning from the Great Lakes Valley Conference to the Ohio Valley Conference. Leading the way is senior INF Josh Street (10 RBI in 2009), who hit .407 in 2008 with 26 doubles and 54 RBI. OFs Adam Eggemeyer and Chase Thrasher are hitting .355 and .353, respectively. The team is hitting .289 and its team ERA is 7.01.

UMBC players hit five home runs Monday  but lost to Yale, 17-11, to drop to 1-4 on the year. The Retrievers are coming off a 5-4 loss at Towson State Wednesday. 1B Shawn Retz has 3 HRs and is hitting .357. OF Bryan Russo is hitting .462 with two HRs. LHP Ed Bach (0-1, 6.75) pitched 79.1 innings in 2008 as a starter.

North Dakota State led powerful Wichita State, 3-2, in the seventh inning before losing 5-3 during its first series of the year. The Bison, from Fargo, N.D., are 1-6 on the season and play Pittsburgh Saturday. NDSU is led by Summit League player of the week Eric Nutzhorn (.478 avg., 10 RBI) and the Zach duo of Zach Heidmann (.444) and Zach Wentz (.423). John Straka and Josh Smith headline a rebuilt staff.

Ohio State’s 9-2 record is its best 11-game start since the 1991 team opened 19-2. The team’s 7-0 start initially tied for the third-best start ever by an Ohio State team behind only the 1917 team’s 10-0 start and the 1991 team’s 8-0 open.

Ohio State, as a team, ranks either No. 1 or No. 2 in almost two handfuls of categories in the Big Ten, including average (2nd; .326), slugging (1st; .531), runs (2nd; 107), hits (1st, 141), RBI (2nd; 98), triples (1st; 8) and home runs (2nd; 17). Here’s more on the team’s hitting:

 The team has had double digit hits in nine of 11 games and double digit runs six times.
 The team is hitting .657 with runners on third base and less than two out and it is hitting .351 with runners in scoring position.
 Five players are hitting over .350 and nine players have home runs.

The pitching staff is sitting in seventh in the Big Ten with a 5.79 ERA and with a .311 opposing batting average, but it is second in wins (nine) and tied for first with four saves. Nine of Ohio State’s 11 starts have been by sophomores and the other two were by a freshman. Taking a closer look at the staff:

 Reliever Drew Rucinski has picked up four wins in relief to lead the Big Ten Conference.
 Alex Wimmers and Andrew Armstrong are in the Big Ten’s Top 10 in ERA (2.25 each).
 Jake Hale is tied for first in the Big Ten in appearances (6) and saves (2) and he leads with five games finished.

Sophomore infielder Matt Streng continued his torrid hitting in his second weekend of action at the RussMatt Invite. Streng hit .438 with a homer, four RBI and an .875 slugging pct. He’s not the only Buckeye who is hot at the plate:

 Senior Michael Arp led the squad in Winter Haven with a .471 avg. He scored five runs.
 Dan Burkhart extended his hitting streak to all 11 games this season and to 14 dating to last year. He leads the team with 19 RBI (2nd in the Big Ten) and seven extra base hits (he’s slugging at a .688 rate).
 Zach Hurley is T8th with Burkhart in hitting among Big Ten players with a .396 average.
 Hurley is second on the team with 14 RBI (T4th in Big Ten) and his .464 on-base pct. and 19 hits lead the team.
 Michael Stephens and Cory Kovanda extended hitting streaks to nine and eight games, respectively, last week in Winter Haven.

Ohio State has the top three triples hitters in the Big Ten: Dan Burkhart (3), Matt Streng and Zach Hurley (2 apiece).

Ohio State’s seven home runs hit vs. Connecticut is, at best, tied for third on the school single game charts. Twice – vs. Indiana in 1998 and Michigan State in 1999 – Ohio State hit nine home runs in a game. The five home runs in the B3 inning vs. UConn is an Ohio State record.

Ohio State has put together 15 innings so far this season with three or more runs scored as opposed to nine such innings for its opponents. In five or more run innings, Ohio State leads its opponents: five to three.

The 2009 Buckeyes look very much like the 2008 team, except for one new starter. That’s where the comparisons end. Through 11 games last year Ohio State had scored 26 fewer runs, had 13 fewer extra base hits (including 13 fewer home runs) and had committed 11 more errors. Last year’s pitching staff featured two junior starters and a senior and were slightly ahead in ERA and opponents average, but this year’s hitters are much improved and thus the team’s 9-2 record bests last year’s 7-4 start to the season.