COLUMBUS, Ohio The players on the 2009 Ohio State baseball team will agree to a man the success the Buckeyes are enjoying this season, including making a run for a Big Ten Conference championship, was the result of great team chemistry, camaraderie, a willingness to work hard every day and the accepting of roles. Thank the seniors on this team for laying the foundation for what has turned out to be a winning formula. 

Saturday, prior to the 1:05 p.m. regular season-ending game against Iowa, two-time team captain Justin Miller, fifth-year senior Michael Arp and Jake Hale were honored for their dedication, perseverance and sacrifice, not to mention their huge hits, defensive stops, strikeouts and winning efforts on behalf of the team over the last four years. Their work, albeit not done, has helped Ohio State to: 

  • A record of 144-86 the past four years;
  • A Big Ten tournament championship and NCAA berth in 2007; and
  • A terrific, 39-win, Big Ten Conference championship 2009 season so far with more games to play.

Each of these players has contributed in huge ways to the success of this team.

No. 2 Michael Arp Right Fielder; Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Michael Arp is having a career year for the Buckeyes. And that’s because this young man has dedicated himself to improving as a student, ball player and person every day he’s been a Buckeye. It’s a mentality that Michael has lived on the playing fields as well as away from the field with his study habits, workout regime and mentality for healthy living. And it’s an ethic that has produced results. Consider:

  • Michael has started every game this season in right field.
  • He has not gone hitless in back-to-back games.
  • He has hit above .300 all season; and
  • He has doubled his 2008 stats with 35 runs scored, 64 hits, 12 doubles, four home runs and 28 RBI.

Michael has also been a terrific defensive outfielder for the Buckeyes.

  • He is fielding at a .991 rate and has just one error in the past two years.
  • He has made at least nine diving, spectacular catches so far this season.
  • And he leads all outfielders with six outfield assists.

Michael, who started his 100th career game Thursday against Iowa, is the son of Chris and Jill Arp. He will graduate this June with a degree in sport and leisure studies. After some time off, Michael will start his career with Wells Fargo Financial later this summer, in Toledo.

No 3 Willie Paul Jacob “Jake” Hale Closer, Stopper, Finisher; Albany, Ohio
Jake Hale is having one of the finest seasons ever for an Ohio State relief pitcher, which is remarkable to consider because last season Jake was the team’s Friday night starter. But he listened to his coaches, he understood the potential successes of his coming out of the bullpen and he willingly accepted his role as the team’s closer. Ohio State and Jake have benefitted in a huge way with the move. 

  • Jake is seeking to hold all the Ohio State saves records.
  • He has set the Ohio State single season record of 15 saves this year.
  • He is one save away from the career mark of 27 saves.
  • With a Big Ten leading 15 saves this season, he is the only Ohio State pitcher with two seasons of 10 or more saves.

And as much as Jake would like to be known as Willie, he is actually going to be remembered as “The Finisher!”

  • That’s because Jake has finished 33 consecutive games he has appeared in, to lead the Big Ten in that category as well.
  • He’s a major reason why Ohio State is 33-1 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
  • And that’s why he is a candidate for the National Stopper of the Year Award.

Majoring in sport and leisure studies, Jake has appeared in a school record 35 games this season and 87 for his career, tied for third among all Buckeyes. The son of Marvin and Paula Hale, Jake would like to continue his baseball career, travel to faraway places like Japan and Australia, and then get into coaching.

No. 28 Justin Miller 3B/1B; Dayton, Va.
Justin Miller is a two-time team captain and he is one of only 14 Buckeyes in 126 years of Ohio State baseball to be named captain more than once.

That’s because Justin is a leader. And he doesn’t have to say much to lead because his actions over the last four years speak volumes.

  • Justin has the second-most hits in Ohio State history with 268.
  • He ranks third all-time at Ohio State with 49 doubles and with 792 at-bats.
  • He is fourth in RBI with 176.
  • He has a career average of .335.

Twice honored as the Big Ten Conference Player of the Week, Justin is leading the Buckeyes into postseason play again by finishing this regular season on a tear:

  • He is batting .680 the last week (17-for-25) with nine runs scored and 11 RBI.
  • Those stats have boosted Justin’s season totals to 71 hits,52 RBI and 33 runs.
  • And they have pushed him over the 70-hit and 50-RBI mark for the third consecutive season.
  • That’s leadership. And that’s Justin.

Majoring in criminology, Justin is the son of Debbie and Brent Miller (and the grandson of Donnie and Louise Miller, who have seen Justin play as much as much as anyone, travelling to Florida for each spring break and making the trip from Virginia to Columbus virtually every home weekend). A career in criminology will have to wait, though. Justin has to get baseball out of his system and it isn’t yet. He’ll be a student-assistant coach somewhere next season. Hopefully right here at Ohio State.

Nice going, senior Buckeyes. Congratulations on your Big Ten Championship.