COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State and Minnesota, the two most successful teams in the Big Ten Conference over the last 20 years, hook up Friday through Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium in a key early-season Big Ten Conference match-up. Both teams are 2-2 in the Big Ten and trail 4-0 Michigan and 3-1 Illinois and Purdue in the standings.

  Entering 2008, Ohio State and Minnesota are the two winningest teams in the Big Ten over the last 20 years with Ohio State having won 801 games and Minnesota winning 736.

  Ohio State, 13-8 overall, won both nine-inning games in shutout fashion last week against Penn State. Minnesota, 12-11 with wins over nationally-ranked teams Pepperdine, Tulane and No. 2 Missouri, won the first two games of its series with Indiana, 10-2 and 5-4, but dropped the final two games by scores of 8-3 and 8-7.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 
(12-8, 2-2 Big ten)

Minnesota Golden Gophers
(12-11, 2-2 big ten)

April 4-6, 2008
Bill Davis Stadium (4,450)
Columbus, Ohio

Friday, Apr. 4, 6:30 p.m. EDT
Sat., Apr. 5, 1:05 p.m. (DH) EDT
Sunday, Apr 6, 1:05 p.m. EDT

Series History: Minnesota leads, 76-74-2
Last Meeting: May 27, 2007; Ohio State 4-2 (Big Ten tournament)

Broadcast Information
Radio: WMNI-AM 920, Games 1, 2 & 4;, Game 3
Big Ten Network: Games 2 & 3
Live Stats for All Games
Streaming Video, Games 1 & 4

Here is the probable order of pitchers for this weekend’s games:

G1: RHP Jake Hale  (2-0, 4.50 ERA) vs.
    RHP Tom Buske (3-2, 2.62)
G2: LHP Andrew Armstrong (3-1, 2.45) vs.
    LHP Kyle Carr (1-3, 4.65)
G3: RHP Dean Wolosiansky (2-2, 3.42) vs.
    RHP Dustin Brabender (2-2, 6.12)
G4: LHP J.B. Shuck (4-1, 3.00) vs.
    RHP Seth Rosin (1-0, 1.99)

Big Ten action around the midwest has Illinois at Indiana, Purdue at Iowa, Michigan at Penn State and Michigan State at Northwestern. 

Ohio State and Minnesota have played 152 times since first meeting in 1923 and two losses are all that separates the two teams. Minnesota holds the edge in wins, 76 to 74, and there have been two ties.

Minnesota has been a pain to Ohio State in the regular season with six series wins against two losses and five ties. The teams split in the regular season last year. Minnesota has series wins in 1990-91-92-03-04-06. Ohio State’s wins were in 2001 and 2005. 

Ohio State has been a pain to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament with a 17-12 edge in tournament wins. Included are 4-2 and 10-9 wins last year in Ann Arbor that helped the Buckeyes win the championship and advance to the NCAA tournament. Bob Todd’s Buckeye teams are 16-8 vs. Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament.

Ohio State skipper Bob Todd holds a sizeable at least eight games edge in victories against every other Big Ten team except Minnesota. Todd’s Scarlet and Gray teams have a 41-39-1 record against Minnesota. Ohio State holds an eight-win margin over Michigan and Illinios and 35- and 31-win edges against Purdue and Indiana, respectively. 

The two teams split a four-game series at Minnesota the second weekend in May last season. The Buckeyes won the Saturday doubleheader, 8-1 and 13-1, but the Golden Gophers won the first game, 6-4, and the final game, 5-3, to even the series. The teams met in the Big Ten Tournament twice at Michigan, with Ohio State winning both times, 10-9 and 4-2.

In what ultimately may have been his last scheduled relief role, Jake Hale pitched 1.1 innings in relief to get the win in the title-clinching, 4-2, win over Minnesota at the 2007 Big Ten tournament. Chris Macke scored the game-winning run. Senior Rory Meister pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the extra inning win, 10-9, over Minnesota in Game 3 of the tournament.

Minnesota’s appearance this year marks its sixth regular season visit to 12-year-old Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State has a 12-7 record against the Golden Gophers at Bill Davis Stadium. The Golden Gophers have also played the Buckeyes twice in the Big Ten Tournament at the stadium, with Minnesota winning both games (10-1 in 1999, 6-5 in 2001).

Entering this weekend, the two teams had these rankings within the Big Ten Conference (followed by a few other noteworthy numbers):

Ohio State ranks first in batting (.334), second in pitching (3.94 ERA) and eighth in fielding (.955).
Minnesota ranks fifth in batting (.293), eighth in pitching (5.72), and third in fielding (.961).
Ohio State is 23-of-33 in stolen base attempts; Minnesota is 26-of-39.
Minnesota has 11 home runs compared to sixfor Ohio State.
Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 253 hits (Indiana is second at 246).
Ohio State’s 79 earned runs allowed is second-fewest in the Big Ten, but its 90 walks allowed are fourth highest.
Minnesota pitchers have allowed the most bases on balls: 98. 
Ohio State pitchers are second in strikeouts with 176 (Michigan, 182). Minnesota is third (166).  

Eight of nine “every day” starters are hitting .300 or above. The only position that does not have at least a .300 hitter is right field where three players – Ryan Dew, Zach Hurley and Michael Arp – have combined for a .287 average with 23 RBI in their platoon. Additional offensive notes…

The Bucks have only six home runs.   At 13-8 it doesn’t matter because the team has outhit its opponent 17 times and are 12-5 in those games … The team has had 10 or more hits 15 times and scored six or more runs 15 times (and are 11-4 in those games) … Ohio State, as a team, has hit above .300 in 12 consecutive games.

There are plenty of weapons. Ryan Meade is on a 17-game hitting streak and Tony Kennedy just had a same-length streak end … Cory Kovanda (.425) and J.B. Shuck (.411) are among the Big Ten’s top five hitters …Cory Rupert leads with 22 RBI and has eight multi-RBI games … three freshmen starters – 1B/DH Meade, C Dan Burkhart and SS Tyler Engle – combine to hit .333 and all three have had a four-hit game … among non-everyday players: Brian DeLucia is hitting .444 in nine games and Chris Macke has a six-RBI game (vs. Kansas) … pinch-hitters are hitting .316 this season (6-for-19).  

The Buckeyes committed only three errors during the Penn State series and have just two in the last four games.  

Individually, among the guys who make the most plays … freshman SS Tyler Engle has zero errors the last four games and only two in the last 10 … 3B/SS Cory Rupert has not committed an error in the last 11 games and has just two in the last 18 … 2B Cory Kovanda has just three errors all season … the outfielders have made just two errors all season and have five assists (three by Tony Kennedy and two by Zach Hurley).

Ohio State has a team ERA of 3.94 and it limited Penn State to just 1.97 earned runs per game in the series (seven earned runs allowed and eight total runs in the series). Opponents are batting .243 against Ohio State pitching and the staff has thrown four shutouts so far including in three of the last five games. A few other thoughts about the staff:

The Minnesota series starters are 11-4…and are carrying a combined ERA of 3.34 (94.2 innings pitched by Jake Hale, Andrew Armstrong, Dean Wolosiansky and J.B. Shuck and 35 earned runs allowed).

A 1.26 ERA at Bill Davis Stadium. Over the current home stand – six games to date – the staff has surrendered just seven earned runs (1.26 ERA) and allowed opponents to hit .209. The 20 walks allowed have been offset by 46 striketouts.

Ohio State is 1-4 in games where it doesn’t commit an error and 12-4 in games with one or more errors.

Click on the attached PDF for more Ohio State baseball notes, bio updates and stats!