Feb. 10, 2004

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team opens its season Friday through Sunday at the Minute Maid College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Buckeyes will face Texas, which advanced to the College World Series a season ago, at 4 p.m., EST (3 p.m., CST) Friday in the season opener before meeting Kansas State Saturday at noon, EST (11 a.m., CST) and Texas Tech Sunday at 11 a.m., EST (10 a.m., CST).

Joining Ohio State and the three Big 12 schools at the home of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball will be Houston, a Conference USA school and 2003 super regional participant, and Rice, which won the 2003 national championship. The Owls are in the Western Athletic Conference. Four of the six schools at Minute Maid College Classic played in a super regional last year. While Rice and Texas advanced to Omaha, both Ohio State and Houston were eliminated one round earlier.

The Buckeyes were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after coming within two victories of heading back to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 1967. Southwest Missouri State defeated Ohio State by scores of 13-8 and 13-7 in the best-of-three super regional at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus last June. That will serve as motivation for a squad that returns seven of eight position starters: Derek Kinnear (catcher), Paul Farinacci (first), Drew Anderson (second), Brett Garrard (shortstop), Jedidiah Stephen (third), Steve Caravati (designated hitter/leftfield) and Mike Rabin (centerfield). Caravati had the highest returning batting average from a year ago after finishing second on the team behind sixth-round draft pick Christian Snavely (Toronto) with a .333 average. The Buckeyes return 51 of their 70 home runs from 2003 and 260 of their 340 RBI. On the mound, the Buckeyes have to make up for the loss of three senior pitchers. The good news is that two weekend starters from a season ago return in eight-game winners Josh Newman and Mike Madsen. Another issue for the Buckeyes to contend with is the rehabilitation of Scott Lewis, the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and one of the most dominating pitchers in all of college baseball a season ago. Lewis tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his start the final series of the regular season and underwent Tommy John surgery the day before Ohio State began regional play at Auburn. Lewis remains ahead of schedule with his rehab but likely will not pitch until mid-April at the earliest.

Joining Newman and Madsen in the weekend rotation could be Trent Luyster, a midweek starter last year who finished with a 3-1 record, and Chris Hanners, who entered the weekend rotation the last month of the season.

Texas, the 2002 national champion and 2003 College World Series participant, opened this season with wins in its first six games before a Tuesday home contest with Texas-Arlington. The Longhorns began the season by sweeping Hawaii in a three-game set in Honolulu and then returned to Austin where it swept another three-game series against San Diego.

Prior to the game with the Mavericks, Curtis Thigpen led the Longhorns with a .542 average. Through the first six games, Thigpen was 13-of-24 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. As a team, Texas was batting .350 and owned a 2.53 ERA. Closer Huston Street, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 College World Series, accounts for half of the team’s six victories and boasts a 1.00 ERA in 9.0 innings. Other wins have come from Sam LeCure, Kyle McCulloch and Justin Simmons. Augie Garrido is in his eighth season in Austin and is 1,436-686-8 in his 36th season as a head coach.

Texas leads the all-time series with Ohio State 8-1. The most recent meeting went the way of the Longhorns, a 10-5 victory in the opening game of the NCAA Midwest II Regional in Oklahoma City, Okla. Every other meeting between the schools took place in Austin. The series dates back to 1949 when the Longhorns took two of three games from the Buckeyes. That year the Buckeyes won their lone game in the series, a 5-1 victory in the series finale. Ohio State’s first baseball All-American Fred Taylor was a junior on that team. He is the only baseball player to have his jersey (No. 27) retired by Ohio State. Taylor is probably best remembered for coaching the Buckeyes’ basketball team to four Final Four appearances and the 1960 national championship.

March 21, 1949: Texas 11, Ohio State 5
March 22, 1949: Texas 7, Ohio State 4
March 23, 1949: Ohio State 5, Texas 1
March 25, 1948: Texas 8, Ohio State 6
March 26, 1948: Texas 10, Ohio State 4
March 27, 1948: Texas 12, Ohio State 11
March 19, 1951: Texas 8, Ohio State 0
March 20, 1951: Texas 4, Ohio State 3
May 25, 1995: Texas 10, Ohio State 5*
* NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Like the Buckeyes, Kansas State does not open its season until the Minute Maid College Classic. The Wildcats, who open with Houston Friday at noon, finished 15-37 in 2003 and were 5-22 in the Big 12, which placed them 10th the conference. The 2004 Wildcats are under the direction of first-year head coach Brad Hill, who went to Manhattan after directing Central Missouri State to a 418-91 record in his nine years. His teams made it to the NCAA tournament every year he was there and made seven trips to the Division II College World Series.

Ohio State leads the all-time series with Kansas State 1-0. The only previous meeting was four seasons ago when the Buckeyes took an 8-4 victory at the Homestead Challenge during spring break.

March 24, 2000: Ohio State 8, Kansas State 4*
* Homestead Challenge, Homestead, Fla.

Texas Tech is off to a 3-0 start after sweeping a weekend series at home against Campbell this past weekend. The Red Raiders won by scores of 18-1, 19-4 and 9-4 and will not play again until facing Rice in Houston at 8 p.m. Friday. Texas Tech finished 30-25 in 2003 and were 8-18 in the Big 12, which was ninth in the league standings. Larry Hays is in his 18th year in Lubbock and is in his 34th season as a head coach. He owns a 1,353-731-3 career record.

This will be the first-ever meeting between Ohio State and Texas Tech in baseball.

Ohio State baseball will not be broadcast on the radio until the home opener March 31, once Buckeye women’s basketball and men’s ice hockey have concluded their respective seasons. NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) will again serve as the broadcast home for Ohio State baseball and will broadcast a total of 40 regular-season games, plus all postseason contests. Joining veteran broadcaster Frank Fraas will be Neil Sika and Paul Barnes.

For the Minute Maid College Classic, please dial in web sites of Ohio State’s opponents. Only Texas and Texas Tech will be providing live audio on their web sites:

Fri., Feb. 13: Texas (
Sat., Feb. 14: Kansas State (none)
Sun., Feb. 15: Texas Tech (

2004 marks the second straight season for Ohio State to play in a major league baseball stadium. The Buckeyes beat Cleveland State 4-1 at Jacobs Field in Cleveland May 6, 2003. In that contest Jedidiah Stephen hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to the left-field home run porch, that gave the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead.

This season, Ohio State also will play at Coastal Federal Field, the home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Single-A Carolina League team of the Atlanta Braves. The Buckeyes will meet Richmond and Coastal Carolina, which both advanced to the 2003 NCAA tournament, and Kent State, which last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2002. Last season, the Buckeyes played one game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., which is the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. In years past, Ohio State has played at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing, Mich., home to the Lansing Lugnuts, the Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Ohio State hitting coach Greg Cypret was a seventh-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in the 1978 draft and played six years with the organization, the last four with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Tucson. Cypret’s best year in the minors was in 1980 when he hit .286, hit 21 home runs and had 74 RBI in Double-A ball at Columbus, Ga. He hit .307 and had 81 RBI for Tucson in 1981. He left the field in October 1984 to join Bob Todd’s coaching staff at Kent State. Cypret is in his 17th season at Ohio State.

Erik Hagen, the Buckeyes’ third-year volunteer assistant, worked with the Houston Astros in the Instructional League during the fall of 2001.

The only former Ohio State student-athlete to play for the Houston Astros was Johnny Edwards, who played for the organization from 1969-74. Edwards, who also played for Cincinnati and St. Louis, where he was part of two World Series teams, finished his 14-year career in Houston and was a career .242 hitter. His best year with the Astros was in 1972 when he batted .268.

Among Buckeye players drafted since 1990, the only player to be taken by Houston was Roy Marsh, who was selected in the 10th round of the 1994 draft.

The Buckeyes were ranked as high as 26th among the four major preseason college baseball polls. That ranking was courtesy of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Ohio State received note in all four preseason polls, ranking 31st in Collegiate Baseball, 32nd in Baseball America. The Buckeyes received the 28th most votes in the USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches’ poll. Last season, the Buckeyes finished the season ranked as high as 17th and no lower than 21st in any of the polls.

In this week’s rankings, Ohio State continues to be ranked 26th in the NCBWA Top 35 and is ranked 30th in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30. The Buckeyes are receiving votes in the USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN Top 25 poll.

Since Bob Todd took over the program prior to the 1988 season, the Buckeyes have gone 9-7 in season openers, including last season when they defeated Lamar 5-3 in Beaumont, Texas. In 120 years of Ohio State baseball, the Buckeyes are 74-44-2 (.625) in season openers.

With the Feb. 13 game against Texas at the Minute Maid College Classic, it marks the earliest start for the Buckeyes since the 1998 season, when the team opened the year Jan. 30, the earliest start in the history of the program. The Buckeyes went 1-2 against Duke (L, 8-7), Florida State (L, 6-4) and N.C. State (W, 10-4) at the ACC/Disney Baseball Blast at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

With seven of eight position players back, the Buckeyes will no doubt be stronger in the field and at the plate. That experience should pay dividends as they push for the school’s 17th NCAA tournament appearance and the 11th under head coach Bob Todd.

Derek Kinnear received mention on the watch list for the 2003 Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the top catcher in college baseball.

Brett Garrard and Drew Anderson have been playing together at shortstop and second, respectively, since the duo attended Brownsburg High School in Indiana. Garrard was the most outstanding player at the 2003 Big Ten Tournament after belting four home runs and two doubles and batting .474 in the five games. Anderson was the most outstanding player at the Auburn Regional after hitting four home runs and two doubles while batting .429.

Mike Rabin, who was a member of the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after getting 11 hits in five games, has incredible range in centerfield and has made several spectacular plays, including a few highlights in the NCAA tournament last year. Junior Paul Farinacci returns for a second season at first base, while sophomore Jedidiah Stephen will be challenged for his spot at third base. Sophomore Wes Schirtzinger will take over in rightfield to fill Christian Snavely’s departure, while Steve Caravati will jump in at left field after spending most of 2003 as the Buckeyes’ designated hitter. Caravati played all of last season through a shoulder injury that required surgery in June. He will be back at full strength and could have the most impact at the plate for Ohio State in 2004 after batting .333 a year ago. He finished with eight home runs, seven of which came in postseason play.

Gone are three senior pitchers from 2003, though only one was a weekend starter. Departing were Nate Smith, a first team all-conference pick in 2002, Greg Prenger, who tossed the Buckeyes’ first complete game in school history, reliever/occasional starter Kyle Brown, and Matt Davis, the closer who notched a school record 14 saves.

The Buckeyes do return three of the four weekend starters from a year ago, though Scott Lewis, who underwent Tommy John surgery May 29, 2003, likely will not return until mid April at the earliest. Picking up the slack for Lewis and the other departures are left-handed pitcher Josh Newman and junior righty Mike Madsen. Each had eight wins last year with Newman finishing with an 8-6 record and a 4.64 ERA in 99.0 innings with 70 strikeouts. He earned second team All-Big Ten honors. Madsen finished 8-1 with a 3.31 ERA and in 65 1/3 innings struck out 45. Joining the two will likely be lefty Trent Luyster, a midweek starter last year, who finished with a 3-1 record, and Chris Hanners, who entered the weekend rotation the second half of the season.

The 2003 Ohio State Buckeyes knew they were a good team last year, but just how good was not discovered until its postseason run in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

Needing two wins on the final day of the conference tournament against Minnesota, Ohio State rallied for a 13-3 win in game one and a 10-8 victory in game two to claim its second straight and sixth ever Big Ten tournament championship.

The win also handed the Buckeyes the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Now, Ohio State, as a No. 3 regional seed, was faced with an even greater challenge against a trio of Tigers, including two southern baseball powerhouses: Auburn, Clemson and Princeton. Yet the Buckeyes again rose to the challenge, shocking the nation with a sweep of the Auburn Regional, defeating Clemson, a 2002 College World Series participant, in the opening round, before taking a pair of victories from host and national No. 4 seed Auburn.

That set up a super regional matchup with Southwest Missouri State, which itself came out of the Lincoln Regional as a No. 3 seed. The NCAA awarded the super regional to Ohio State, yet the Buckeyes fell two games short of advancing to the College World Series for the first time since 1967 despite crowds of more than 5,000 fans each game at Bill Davis Stadium.

Left-handed pitcher Scott Lewis and second baseman Drew Anderson were named Third Team Preseason All-Americans by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Lewis was the 2003 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and a Louisville Slugger First Team All-American last year after finishing 9-1 on the mound. Lewis ran his record to 9-0 before suffering a loss in his last outing of the regular season, May 16, when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in a game at Minnesota. That loss snapped a string of 15 consecutive victories. His 17-3 career record gives him a win percentage of .850, which is third best in school history. He finished with a 1.61 ERA in 2003 and held opposing batters to a .160 batting average. His 127 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings was the third highest total in school history. Lewis underwent Tommy John surgery the week of regional play and could return to the mound in April.

Anderson was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in 2003 after leading the Buckeyes with 77 hits. He batted .307 for the season and had 12 home runs and 34 RBI. Anderson was unanimously named the most outstanding player of the NCAA Auburn Regional by batting .429 (6-of-14) with two doubles and four home runs. Also a member of the all-regional team, he touched 20 bases for a slugging percentage of 1.429.

Five Buckeyes who won All-Big Ten honors last season are back in 2004. Scott Lewis, the 2003 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, is the lone first-team selection returning, but the date of the return is unknown pending his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery May 29. Second baseman Drew Anderson and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman were second team selections while catcher Derek Kinnear and designated hitter Steve Caravati earned third-team honors.

Baseball America listed Scott Lewis No. 43 on its Top 100 College Prospects for the June amateur draft by Major League Baseball. Lewis, who is undergoing rehab following Tommy John surgery last May, could pitch for the Buckeyes as early as mid-April. Lewis struck out 127 batters in 83.2 innings and finished with a 9-1 record and 1.61 ERA. Baseball America lists Lewis’ breaking ball as one of the best in college baseball with Rice’s Jeff Niemann and South Carolina’s Matt Campbell. Lewis was drafted following high school by the Anaheim Angels in the 33rd round of the 2001 draft.

In the 2004 College Baseball Preview by Basebaall America, several Buckeyes received preseason honors. The publication named catcher Derek Kinnear, second baseman Drew Anderson, designated hitter Steve Caravati and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman to its preseason all-conference team for the Big Ten. Baseball America also mentioned Scott Lewis as the Big Ten’s top overall prospect while listing Newman as the sixth-best prospect and Anderson as the ninth-best prospect while tabbing him as the league’s fastest runner and best baserunner. Kinnear was named the best defensive catcher. Baseball America penciled in Ohio State and Minnesota for the NCAA tournament.

The Buckeyes elected four of their fellow teammates to serve as team captains for the 2004 season: outfielder Steve Caravati, shortstop Brett Garrard, catcher Derek Kinnear and pitcher Josh Newman.

Ohio State will play four games on its annual spring break excursion to Florida. The Buckeyes will play Rutgers, Rider and two games against Florida Atlantic March 19-24. The games begin Friday, March 19 with a 3 p.m. game vs. Rutgers and continue with a Saturday meeting with Rider at a time yet to be determined. After taking Sunday and Monday off, the team will play games against the Owls Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Columbus. The team has the next weekend off before returning to action March 31 for the home opener against Eastern Michigan.

In all, Ohio State will play 13 games against nine teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2003. That includes the season opener against Texas and other single games against Richmond, Coastal Carolina, McNeese State, South Alabama, Rutgers and Eastern Michigan, two games at Florida Atlantic and four games at Minnesota.

“We have an ambitious schedule,” Bob Todd said. “Playing Texas is a tremendous challenge and a great way to open the season. The quality of that tournament field is such that any of those teams could be in Omaha. It is a College World Series-caliber tournament.”

The Buckeyes will play on the road the first five weeks of the season, a span of 16 games, with a bye week following the Minute Maid College Classic. The team travels to Myrtle Beach, S.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Mobile, Ala. and Boca Raton, Fla. for tournament action before the home opener March 31 against Eastern Michigan.

Three Buckeyes – outfielder Christian Snavely, right-handed pitcher Matt Davis and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman – were selected in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft a year ago. All three were juniors and only Newman elected to return for his senior season. Snavely was selected in the sixth round as the 170th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. Davis was picked in the seventh round as the 198th overall pick by the Cleveland Indians, while Newman went in the 31st round as the 921st overall pick to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Bob Todd weekly radio call-in show will begin Tuesday, March 30 and run every Tuesday night through the remainder of the season. The show will be hosted by Skip Mosic on Sports Radio 1460 The Fan (WBNS-AM). The program has received mention in Baseball America for its promotion of college baseball.

Ohio State baseball will be televised four times this season by the Ohio News Network. Game four of series against Illinois, Michigan and Northwestern and the opening game of the Penn State series will be televised by the Ohio cable channel.

Sunday, April 2 vs. Illinois, 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 25 vs. Michigan, 1 p.m.
Saturday, May 8 vs. Penn State, 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 16 vs. Northwestern, 1 p.m.

After a weekend off, Ohio State will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Feb. 27-29 for Baseball at the Beach, where they will meet Richmond, Coastal Carolina and Kent State. The three games will be played at Coastal Federal Field, the home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Single-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.