COLUMBUS, Ohio – Time to hit the road again. Ohio State, coming off an 11-game homestand that featured seven wins including a split with Penn State and a series win over Minneosta (but ended with a 4-2 loss to Central Michigan Wednesday), travels to East Lansing for its first road series of the season. Weather permitting – the forecast is for some rain, possibly snow and nothing close to the 60-degree days we’ve experienced of late – the teams will play at Oldsmobile Park at 5:05 p.m. Friday with 1:05 p.m. starts Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

    Ohio State enters the series with a 16-10 overall record and a 5-3 mark in the Big Ten Conference. Michigan State comes in at 12-14 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.

Ohio State Buckeyes
(16-10, 5-3 Big Ten) vs.

Michigan State Spartans
(12-14, 3-5 Big Ten)

April 11-13, 2008
Oldsmobile Park
Lansing, Mich.

Friday, Apr. 11, 5:05 p.m. EDT
Sat., Apr. 12, 1:05 p.m. (DH) EDT
Sunday, Apr 13, 1:05 p.m. EDT

Series History: Ohio State leads, 124-81-1
Last Meeting: May 6, 2007; Michigan State, 7-5

Broadcast Information
WMNI-AM 920, Games 1, 2 & 4;, Game 3
Live Stats for All Games

Michigan, the preseason favorite by the prognosticators, has burst out of the gates with a 7-1 record in the Big Ten with a sweep over Iowa and a series win over Penn State. A game behind is 6-2 Purdue and Illinois. The Buckeyes are in fourth with Michigan State tied for fifth-place with five other teams. Bottom line: The Buckeyes need to keep pace and the Spartans are looking to separate themselves from the 3-5 pack.

Big Ten action around the midwest has co-leader Michigan and Illinois meeting in Champaign; Purdue hosts Penn State; Iowa is at Indiana and Minnesota is at Northwestern.

Entering this season, and still current after the first two Big Ten series, Ohio State has a winning streak over every Big Ten opponent…except for Michigan State. The Spartans took three-of-four from Ohio State last year at Bill Davis Stadium, including the final three games in the series by scores of 5-1, 6-4 and 7-5, respectively.

Ohio State and Michigan State have been meeting on the diamond since 1911. Ohio State leads the series: 124-81-1. A few other series notes of interest:

Bob Todd’s teams are 55-26 vs. MSU.
The Spartans have won the last two series, 3-1, that were contested at Bill Davis Stadium (in 2007 and 2005).
Ohio State has won the last two series in East Lansing (2006 and 2004) by 3-1 scores.
From 1989 thru 2004, Ohio State won or split  16 consecutive series with the Spartans.

A statistical comparison of Ohio State and Michigan State numbers within the Big Ten Conference (as of April 9) reveals:

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in batting average (.336); Michigan State ranks ninth at .261.
Ohio State is second in the conference with a .406 on-base percentage; Michigan State is 10th (.344).
Ohio State ranks fourth in slugging at .420; Michigan State is ninth (.360).
Michigan State is tied for second with 14 home runs; Ohio State is ninth with six.
Ohio State leads the conference in hits with 295; Michigan State ranks ninth with 212
Ohio State has scored 175 runs, which ranks second behind Illinois (176); Michigan State is ninth with 125.
The Buckeyes rank second in ERA at 4.07; Michigan State is fourth (4.85).
Ohio State is second in opponents’ batting average (.249); the Spartans are fourth at .273.
Ohio State’s pitching staff has struck out the second-most batters in the Big Ten (198); the Spartans have struck out 144, which ranks sixth.
Ohio State leads the conference with nine saves; Michigan State is ninth with three.
Ohio State has allowed the fewest runs (118) and the second-fewest hits (204); Michigan State is tied for fifth in both fewest runs allowed (151) and hits allowed (227).
Michigan State has walked 107 batters, ranking seventh; Ohio State has walked 109, which ranks eighth.

While the Buckeyes don’t hit many home runs (just six this season), they still score plenty of runs, averaging 6.8 per game. The team is hitting .330 overall on the season and .320 in its eight Big Ten games. Seven everyday players are batting .300, and five players have 15 or more RBI. Ohio State has scored 10 or more runs six times and recorded double-digit hits in 16 of 26 games.

Waiting on deck: Ohio State has only been outhit four times this season … Ryan Meade and Tony Kennedy have each had 17-game hitting streaks this season … Cory Kovanda (.404) continues to lead the team in hitting … J.B. Shuck (.382) is under .400 for only the third time all season … Cory Rupert leads with 23 RBI and has eight multi-RBI games … three freshmen starters – 1B/DH Meade, C Dan Burkhart and SS Tyler Engle – have each had a four-hit game … among non-everyday players: Brian DeLucia is hitting ..375 in 12 games and Chris Macke has a six-RBI game (vs. Kansas) … pinch-hitters are hitting .348 this season (8-for-23).

On the flip side: Since an eight-game streak of double-digit hit games ended in G2 vs. Penn State, the team has double-digit hits just three times in its last nine games (.293; 80-for-273) … the Bucks have just five extra base hits – all doubles – the last four games.  

The Buckeyes have continued to pitch better as the season has progressed. Currently, the team’s ERA is 4.03, which ranks second in the Big Ten. Over the last 14 games, the team’s ERA is 3.05. During that span, the starters have an ERA of 3.21, with the relievers having a 2.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 39 innings. Also during that span, the starters have pitched five or more innings in 12 of the 14 games.

Warm-up tosses: Opponents are hitting just .244 against Ohio State pitching … The staff has picked off 10 opponent base runners, but  has been called for eight balks … Pitching wins are nicely balanced. J.B. Shuck leads with four and Jake Hale, Dean Wolosiansky and Andrew Armstrong have three apiece … In four starts the true frosh Armstrong has a 1.70 ERA with just four earned runs allowed in 21.1 innings pitched. He has lasted at least 5.0 innings in each of his starts … RS frosh Wolosiansky nailed down the first complete game of 2008 for the staff with a 4-1 G3 win over Minnesota … pitching staff youth is countered by experienced weekend starters Dan DeLucia (22-11 and 3.76 career nos.), J.B. Shuck (16-10 and 3.66) and Jake Hale (11-8 and 4.10).

This is one of coach Bob Todd’s youngest teams. The typical starting lineup includes six freshmen and sophomores sophs Cory Kovanda at 2B, Cory Rupert at 3B and either Zach Hurley or Ryan Dew in RF; and frosh Dan Burkhart at C, Ryan Meade at DH and Tyler Engle at SS.
In addition, the pitching staff includes two freshman starters Dean Wolosiansky and Andrew Armstrong and two freshmen relievers (Drew Rucinski and Alex Wimmers). 
Ohio State is 13-1 this season when leading after six innings…1-6 when trailing.
The Buckeyes are also 13-0 when leading after seven innings and 15-0 when leading after eight innings.

Click on the attached PDF for more notes, bio updates and stats.