April 4, 2002

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Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State continues its nine-game homestand with its second Big Ten series in as many weekends. After taking three of four games last weekend against Northwestern, the Buckeyes play host to Penn State, April 5-7, in a four-game series at Bill Davis Stadium.

The Buckeyes took 8-5, 6-5 and 9-2 wins over the Wildcats and dropped an 11-8 loss in the third game. Nick Swisher belted three home runs in the first three games of the series, including a two-run blast that capped a five-run seventh inning to give Ohio State a 6-5 victory in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader.

Penn State comes into the weekend series at Ohio State having lost three of four games to Purdue at University Park, Pa., last weekend. The Lions beat Cornell 9-6 on Tuesday night in State College, a team the Buckeyes defeated 4-3 at the Homestead Challenge.

Ohio State enters the weekend with a record of 15-5-1, 3-1 Big Ten, and remain the only team ranked in the top 25 from the conference, while Penn State enters with a record of 10-11, 1-3 Big Ten. The Buckeyes are ranked 25th in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll, slipping from their ranking of 21 last week.

Ohio State opened the season playing 14 of its first 17 games on the road, going 10-3-1 in those games, before returning to Bill Davis Stadium for its current nine-game homestand. The Buckeyes went 3-1 last weekend against Northwestern to improve to 5-2 in Columbus this season and now play host to Penn State in a four-game set. The homestand comes to a close Wednesday with the first mid-week contest at Bill Davis Stadium against Oakland. OSU then takes to the road for a Big Ten series at Iowa.

About Penn State
The Nittany Lions are 10-11 on the year after falling to Purdue three of four times last weekend to open Big Ten play. Penn State won 1-0 to open the series, but lost the last three games, falling 10-9, 6-3 and 10-6. Clint Eury leads the team with a .382 batting average Mike DeRenzo paces the team with 30 hits, while Chris Wright has 20 runs batted in. As a team, the Nittany Lions are batting .291 and have only eight home runs in 21 games. Mike Watson is expected to start Friday’s game. He enters the weekend with a 4-2 record and a 3.70 ERA in 48 2/3 innings.

Against Penn State
Ohio State is 31-16 against Penn State all-time after splitting the four games a year ago. The series dates back to 1958 when the Buckeyes took two of three from the Nittany Lions in Columbus. Penn State won the first two games last season by scores of 8-3 and 9-4, while OSU rebounded for the series split by claiming decisions of 16-6 and 6-4. In the 16-6 Buckeye win Doug Deeds went 3-for-3 with three RBI and also scored three runs. He had two home runs in the game and finished the series with five RBI. In the four games, Deeds batted .429 going 6-for-14 from the plate.

Swisher Belts Three Home Runs in Three Games
Junior Nick Swisher scored the winning runs in the 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday with a walk-off home run that capped a five-run bottom of the seventh. His sacrifice bunt in his previous at bat in the sixth inning helped the Buckeyes score their first run of the game. Swisher hit .333 (5-for-15) in the four games vs. Northwestern and hit three home runs, one each in the first three games of the series, which Ohio State won 3-1. He led the team with seven runs batted in last week and had an on-base percentage of .586. Swisher is now hitting .300 (18-for-60) for the season. Eleven of his 18 hits have been for extra bases, including six doubles and four home runs (both figures lead the team).

Not a Bad Week at the Office
Christian Snavely finished with a .391 batting average in the seven games the team played last week. The Buckeyes went 5-2 in those games – three in Homestead and four at home against Northwestern. In the Homestead Challenge finale against then-No. 20 Florida International, Snavely failed to get a hit snapping a 13-game streak, but he responded against Northwestern by batting .538 (7-for-13) with two home runs and four runs batted in. The two home runs came in back-to-back at bats in the first game against the Wildcats. He had a two-run blast to left in the fourth inning that gave the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead and then led off the sixth inning with a solo shot to right-centerfield that gave OSU a 4-3 lead and put the Buckeyes on top for good. Terry Pettorini is the only other Buckeye to hit home runs in consecutive at bats this season, which he did in the 38-15 win over Toledo.

Buckeyes Claim Series Win with 9-2 Victory vs. Wildcats
Starter Nate Smith pitched a one-hitter through seven innings and was backed up by a solid offense as Ohio State cruised to a 9-2 victory over Northwestern last Sunday to win the first Big Ten series of the year, 3-1.

Smith’s bid at a no-hitter and a shutout was squashed on the first pitch of the sixth inning when Northwestern shortstop Jon Mikrut sent the pitch over the fence in right field to put Northwestern on the board. But that was all the Wildcats would get off Smith as he struck out the next batter and got two straight ground outs to get out of the inning. That hit was the only hit allowed by Smith, who was pulled after the seventh inning for E.J. Laratta.

The Scarlet and Gray took a commanding 8-0 lead by scoring four runs in the fifth inning, three of which came off the bat of catcher Joe Wilkins, who sent a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-centerfield to score three runs for the Buckeyes. It was his second home run of the year.

Smith Named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
Right-handed pitcher Nate Smith was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, April 1, after guiding the Buckeyes to a 9-0 win over Harvard in the Homestead Challenge and a 9-2 victory over Northwestern last Sunday.

Smith pitched 14 innings and struck out 14 batters last week to get his first two wins of the season. He went seven innings and struck out six batters (all in the first three innings) while walking just one while giving up just two hits in the Buckeyes’ win over Harvard. Against Northwestern on Sunday, the junior from Bryan, Ohio, took a no-hitter in to the sixth inning, when he gave up a home run on the first pitch of the inning. It was the only hit he gave up in the game holding opposing batters to .048 average and fanning eight. He had a 0.64 ERA in the two games last week and now has a 1.71 ERA for the season, second best on the team behind E.J. Laratta (1.50). Laratta was also a Big Ten Pitcher of the Week earlier this season (Feb. 25).

No Waiting This Time
In the first three games of the Northwestern series, the Buckeyes fell behind Northwestern, but last Sunday, Ohio State wasted little time putting runs on the board on its way to a 9-2 victory and series win. Ohio State scored twice in the bottom of the first inning, twice in the second inning and then added another four runs in the fifth inning. Ohio State is 3-3 when trailing after five innings, but is 1-5 when trailing after seven. That lone win came against Lafeyette in the Homestead Challenge. The Buckeyes trailed 4-3 after seven, but scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth for an 8-4 victory.

Northwestern Takes One Win
After losing the first two games of the Big Ten Conference opener, Northwestern responded by winning the second game of a doubleheader Saturday night at Bill Davis Stadium, handing the Buckeyes an 11-8 defeat.

Northwestern won despite committing four errors in the contest. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, keyed by a doubles by rightfielder Brandon Ackley and leftfielder Stanley Finch and a single by designated hitter David Gresky. Ohio State scored once in the bottom of the inning.

Northwestern went on to build a 6-1 lead on a three-run home run by catcher Ken Padgett, that scored Finch and Jon Mikurt. However the lead was short-lived as the Buckeyes exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth to give them a 7-6 lead. The highlight of the inning was a two-run home run by Nick Swisher. It was his third home run of the day.

Northwestern came back to score four runs on four hits in the fifth inning to reclaim the lead, 10-6. For good measure they added another run in the sixth inning on a home run by centerfielder Steve Haake. Ohio State scored twice more before the 11-8 loss.

Swisher’s Heroics Save the Day
Centerfielder Nick Swisher hit an 0-2 slider from Northwestern starter Ryan Bos over the leftfield fence scoring two runs to lift Ohio State to a 6-5 triumph in the bottom of the seventh in the first game of a doubleheader last Saturday.

Ohio State trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Joe Wilkins and Christian Snavely each singled to lead off the inning. After a flyout by Terry Pettorini, Paul Farinacci, pinch hitting for leftfielder Mike Rabin, doubled down the rightfield line to bring home Wilkins from second. A single to shallow right field plated Snavely, pulling the Buckeyes within 5-3.

Brett Garrard singled to right putting runners at the corners. A double steal had Northwestern catcher Ken Padgett throwing to second as Geoff Buchanan, who was pinch running for Farinacci, stole home, to make the score 5-4. With two outs, Swisher came to the plate and hit his second home run of the day over the leftfield fence.

Davis Gets Win in Comeback
Matt Davis got the win for Ohio State despite pitching just 2/3 of an inning. He replaced starter Scott Lewis in the seventh inning after Lewis gave up a walk and a base hit to put runners and first and second with just one out. Northwestern went on to score three times (two runs charged to Lewis) in the inning to take a 5-1 lead.

Despite giving up two hits and allowing an unearned run to score, the five-run comeback by the Buckeyes in the bottom half of the inning gave Davis his second win of the year. Lewis struck out nine batters though he gave up five walks to the 26 batters he faced. He went 6 1/3 innings allowing four hits by Northwestern.

OSU Takes 8-5 Win in Big Ten Opener
Second baseman Christian Snavely hit home runs in consecutive at bats in the fourth and sixth innings helping guide Ohio State to an 8-5 victory over Northwestern in a game that had been suspended Friday night because of heavy rains that moved through the Columbus area.

The game picked up where it left off Friday night with David Gresky at the plate facing a 2-2 count. The only difference when play resumed was that Josh Newman replaced starter E.J. Laratta on the mound for Ohio State.

The Wildcats scored three times in the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead. Snavely hit his second home run of the game and his third of the season to pull the Buckeyes and Wildcats even in the sixth.

A single through the left side by Doug Deeds in the seventh scored Drew Anderson, who reached on a two-base error and was then moved over on a ground out by Doug Dendinger. Nick Swisher hit the team’s fourth home run of the game off the scoreboard in right-centerfield. The bomb prompted a pitching change. Dan Pohlman replaced Ribas and immediately walked the first two batters he faced and then gave up a base hit to Lance Rolston to load the bases. Evan Blesoff replaced Pohlman on the mound and he allowed Ohio State to add a run on a sac fly by Pettorini that scored Snavely.

Newman improved to 4-2 with the win.

Laratta Nabs 30th Career Win
E.J. Laratta increased his record this season to 4-0 after pitching his second complete game of the season in leading the Buckeyes to a 5-3 victory over Harvard at the Homestead Challenge on March 23. He stabilized a team that committed five errors and kept the Buckeyes in position for the win holding Harvard batters to a .182 batting average. Laratta now has a 1.36 ERA in 33.0 innings, having allowed only five earned runs (13 total) on 20 hits.

His victory over Harvard March 23, was the 30th of his career, tying for second place on the school’s all-time wins list. He began the season in sixth place, but his 4-0 record quickly vaulted him into the second-place tie with Pete Perini (1947-50) with 30 career wins. He currently trails all-time win leader Justin Fry (1995-99) by just six wins.

Laratta is also moving up the list for career innings pitched. He has now pitched 324 1/3 innings, which ranks third all time at Ohio State. He trails only Fry’s 419 2/3 innings and Perini’s 344 innings. Laratta broke into the career strikeouts list. His 209 career strikeouts ranks him 17th overall. He also has pitched in 49 games in his three plus years, the 15th highest total by a Buckeye.

He appeared in two games against Northwestern, starting the Friday night game, which was suspended in the top of the second. When the game resumed Saturday, Laratta was replaced by Josh Newman. Laratta also pitched two innings of relief in the 9-2 win against the Wildcats on Sunday.

Home Runs Lift Buckeyes
Ohio State had eight home runs in the four games last weekend against Northwestern. That was after the team hit just one home run in the six games in the Homestead Challenge the week before. Junior Nick Swisher accounted for three as he belted home runs in the first three games of the series. The two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh gave Ohio State the victory in walk-off fashion. The Buckeyes hit a season-best four in the first game, including one by Swisher and shortstop Brett Garrard and two in consecutive at bats by second baseman Christian Snavely. Doug Deeds and Joe Wilkins added home runs in the 9-2 win on Sunday.

Ohio State had hit only 12 home runs in its first 17 games, but now have 20 through 21. Last year, the Buckeyes hit 59 home runs in 61 contests. Swisher, who has four home runs to lead the team this year, had 15 home runs to pace OSU last year. He was joined by Deeds, who had 14, and Doug Dendinger, who had 10, as the only Buckeyes to hit double digit totals. The trio accounted for 66.1 percent of the team’s home runs last season.

Pitching Report
Senior E.J. Laratta and junior Nate Smith are setting the standard for the Buckeye pitching staff this season. Laratta owns a 1.50 ERA in seven appearances this season. He has allowed only six earned runs in his 36.0 innings of action. He has 31 strikeouts and only seven walks while holding opposing batters to a .208 average. Smith has a 1.71 ERA after two stellar starts last week against Lafeyette and Northwestern. He has 25 strikeouts in 21.0 innings with only four of the eight runs he has given up being earned. Smith is holding opponents to a .156 batting average.

Freshman Scott Lewis continues to lead the team in strikeouts. The lefty from Washington Court House, Ohio, has 37 strikeouts in his 35 1/3 innings. He has a 2.80 ERA and a 2-2 record.

Chris Hanners went 14 2/3 innings to begin the season without allowing a run. In those six appearances, he held opposing batters to a .046 batting average while allowing two hits on his way to a 1-0 record with one save. He gave up his first run against Florida International and then gave up six runs in a three-inning start in the 11-8 loss to Northwestern last Saturday. He did not get the loss since Ohio State stormed back to take a 7-6 lead in the sixth. Hanners now has a 3.38 ERA.

As a staff, OSU pitchers have a 4.04 ERA.

Hit Streaks
The 13-game hit streak by Christian Snavely was the longest of the season until it ended Tuesday night in the loss to Florida International. Nick Swisher also saw his hit streak end in that game. The junior had hits in his previous six games. Against Illinois-Chicago, Lance Rolston watched his nine-game streak come to a halt in going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Doug Deeds started his current four-game hit streak in that game. Terry Pettorini has hit safely in four straight games though he did not play March 23 vs. Harvard or March 24 vs. UIC. Deed’s had a 13-game streak of his own in games 4-19 last year, which was the longest by anyone on this year’s roster until Snavely’s 13 consecutive games with a hit.

OSU Finishes 4-2 at Homestead Challenge
Ohio State went 4-2 at the Homestead Challenge, March 23-26 getting two wins against Harvard and one against Cornell and Lafeyette. The two losses were to Illinois-Chicago and Florida International, which was ranked 20th in the nation by the USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN coaches poll.

After getting rained out Friday night against Cornell, the two teams met again early on Saturday. Ohio State scored three runs in the fifth inning and added another in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead. The Big Red scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning to pull within the 4-3 final. Josh Newman got the win. Drew Anderson helped the Buckeyes offensively going 2-for-5 from the plate with an RBI.

Saturday night against Harvard, the Buckeyes were able to find victory despite committing five errors. Starter E.J. Laratta improved to 4-0 on the year who pitched his second complete game of the season and his 16th of his career. The game was tied 2-2 until the eighth inning when OSU erupted for three runs. The Crimson scored in the ninth before losing 5-3.

Illinois-Chicago snapped Ohio State’s four-game win streak with a 3-2 triumph. UIC capitalized on three base hits and two OSU errors to score three runs in the fifth inning. The Flames had just four base runners until the bottom of the fifth inning when the scored three unearned runs off three hits and to Ohio State errors. Doug Deeds and Doug Larason were responsible for scoring the two Buckeye runs. Scott Lewis fell to 2-2 on the year.

Ohio State responded to the loss by winning two games on Monday, beating Lafeyette 8-4 and Harvard 9-0. The Buckeyes scored all eight run against Lafeyette in the seventh and eighth innings to fight back for the win. Pinch-hitter Joe Wilkins’ grounder to second scored Christian Snavely giving OSU a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning. In the nightcap, the Buckeyes did not score until the sixth inning when they finally got to starting pitcher Chenny Sheffield for three runs. The assault continued on relief pitching as Ohio State scored once more in the eighth and then five more times in the ninth. Matt Davis picked up his first win as a Buckeye in relief against the Leopards. Nate Smith got his first win of the season by beating Harvard.

Florida International hit three home runs to escape with a 7-6 victory in the Buckeyes’ finale in Homestead. Ohio State scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead and then needed another run in the fifth to go back on top 5-4. A two-run homer by Tommy Duenas gave the Golden Panthers a 6-4 lead. FIU added another run in the eighth that it needed as Ohio State would have scored a tying run in the top of the ninth.

Coach Todd Ejected for First Time in 19-year Career
In a rare occurrence, OSU coach Bob Todd was ejected in the top of the sixth inning of the loss to Florida International. It was the first time in his 18+ years as a head coach that he has ever been thrown out of a game.

“It was obvious what had been going on the entire game,” Todd said. “After seeing the frustration from our pitchers and our hitters, I felt like something needed to be brought to the attention of the umpire. After a two pitches to shortstop Brett Garrard, I needed to settle him down and help him get refocused. So I called him out of the batters’ box to talk him. The home plate umpire, must have overheard what I was saying. It was a very good ball game between two very good teams. It is a shame that the occurrence had to take place.”

Wilkins Productive Off Bench
Catcher Joe Wilkins came off the bench in the 8-4 victory over Lafeyette, the first game of a doubleheader last Monday. He was being saved for the start against Harvard in the nightcap. Wilkins came in to bat in the seventh inning for Derek Kinnear, who was 1-for-2 in the game. Ohio State trailed 4-1 when Wilkins’ sacrifice fly scored Doug Larason. The Buckeyes pulled within 4-3 after the seventh and then scored five runs in the eighth inning to get the “W.” He reached on a fielder’s choice in the eighth that scored Christian Snavely, giving the Buckeyes a 5-4 lead.

OSU Claims Detroit Series 2-1
Righthander E.J. Laratta pitched four perfect innings to ignite Ohio State to a 7-2 victory over Detroit March 17 at Bill Davis Stadium to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 series win.

Laratta pitched a perfect game through the first four innings, but walked Roger Wechter to lead off the fifth inning, ending the bid. Tim Andrzejak singled to shallow right center field to break up the no hitter. Detroit got on the board two batters later.

Laratta struck out the side in the sixth before giving up a leadoff home run to Juston Davenport in the seventh.

Brett Garrard and Brooks Graff each had two hits in the Buckeyes five-hit offensive attack. Garrard was 2-for-3 with three RBI thanks to a three-run bomb in the fourth inning. Graff was 2-for-4, knocking in a run and scoring once himself.

On Saturday, Detroit handed the Buckeyes a loss in the home opener for the first time since 1998. The Titans escaped with a 6-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader, but in the second game, it was all Ohio State. The Buckeyes sprinted out to a 10-0 win in getting coach Bob Todd his 700th career victory.

Todd Gets Career Win No. 700
OSU skipper Bob Todd won his 700th game of his career in a 10-0 victory over Detroit in the second game of a doubleheader March 16. Todd is currently 705-364-2 in his 19th year as a head coach. He ranks 37th among active coaches in career wins.

While at Ohio State, Todd has guided the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten regular season and five Big Ten tournament championships, eight NCAA tournament appearances and five top-20 finishes.

Lewis Fans Eleven
Scott Lewis, a freshman from Washington Court House, Ohio, struck out a season best 11 batters in pitching five innings in the Buckeyes’ 10-0 victory over Detroit in the second game of a doubleheader March 16. In his previous games, Lewis had thrown 12 strikeouts. Lewis faced 20 batters, striking out 11 and walking just one. He gave up only four hits, his low in four appearances at Ohio State. The 11 strikeouts by Scott Lewis were the most by a Buckeye hurler since May 12, 2001, when Josh Newman mowed down 11 Michigan Wolverines in a 9-2 OSU victory.

The Air Up There
Ohio State outscored its opponents 50-45 in three games in Albuquerque, N.M., March 8-10. That was with the benefit of a 38-15 victory over Toledo on Friday in an extreme wind that was blowing out to right field. The Buckeyes belted seven home runs in the game on their way to a school-record 38 runs off 33 hits with just two errors. Ohio State scored 13 runs in the fourth inning.

Designated hitter Terry Pettorini went 6-for-6 from the plate scoring six times. Pettorini had home runs in the third and fourth innings and had three singles and a double to knock in five Buckeyes. Doug Deeds and Lance Rolston also had two-homer games. Deeds finished 4-for-6 with six RBI while Rolston was 3-for-7, with a sacrifice fly, to produce a team-best seven RBI.

Second baseman Christian Snavely was 5-for-6, scoring five times with four RBI and centerfielder Nick Swisher was 3-for-5 with five RBI. All nine Ohio State starting batters had at least one hit. Drew Anderson missed hitting for the cycle by a home run and two others also missed hitting for the cycle. Swisher needed a home run, while Deeds needed a single.

On Saturday, OSU beat New Mexico 10-8 thanks to a five-run fifth inning that led to its sixth win of the year without a defeat. On Sunday, New Mexico used big innings in the sixth and seventh, scoring eight and 10 runs, respectively, to hand Ohio State its first loss of the season. New Mexico won 22-2.

Record Set With 38 Runs
The 38 runs scored against Toledo on March 8 are the most scored by the Buckeyes in the history of the program. Ohio State beat Michigan State on May 7, 1999 by a score of 34-4 at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing, Mich., which had been the runs record. OSU, which had 29 hits in that game, had 33 hits against Toledo.

OSU Earns Win No. 2,000
With a 10-8 win on March 9 at New Mexico, Ohio State won its 2,000th game in the 118 years of the program. The Buckeye program ranks 21st in number of all-time victories with 2,009. The school first started playing the sport in 1881, but did not field teams in 1886, 1887, 1908 or 1910. Ohio State ranks 21st nationally in number of all-time victories.

Ohio State Blanks N. Florida
Rightfielder Doug Deeds broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning with an RBI single that scored shortstop Brett Garrard and then catcher Joe Wilkins hit a two-run homer to give Ohio State a 3-0 victory over North Florida, which was ranked No. 4 in Division II. That was the first of three scheduled games at the Kennel Club Classic for Ohio State. The other two games, at Jacksonville and against The Citadel, were rained out.

Bulldogs and Buckeyes Tie
Ohio State closed out its stay in Starkville, Miss., Feb. 24 with a rare 6-6 tie at Polk-Dement Stadium at Mississippi State. The game was called because of travel considerations. Drew Anderson led the offense with a 2-for-4 day at the plate and scored two runs for OSU. It was the first tie for Ohio State since March 21, 1990, at the Spartan Classic in San Jose, Calif. The Buckeyes played Big Ten foe Minnesota to a 9-9 tie, which was the first tie in the Bob Todd era at Ohio State. The game against Mississippi State was the 41st tie in OSU baseball history.

Buckeyes Take Two from UAB
Behind the a solid pitching performance from E.J. Laratta, Ohio State opened the season with a 2-0 victory over Alabama-Birmingham at the National Bank of Commerce Classic, Feb. 22, at Starkville, Miss. Laratta struck out nine Blazers en route to the 15th complete game of his career. Doug Dendinger sparked the Buckeye offense with an RBI single in the top of the eighth to break a scoreless tie. The two teams met again on Saturday in a game that went into extra innings. Lance Rolston lined a single to left center field in the bottom of the 10th inning allowing Christian Snavely to score the game-winning run in a 4-3 contest with the UAB.

Ohio State Beats Bulldogs 9-2
The Ohio State baseball team’s offense broke out for nine runs on 12 hits to defeat then-No. 17 Mississippi State, 9-2. Nick Swisher went 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored to pace the Buckeyes. Doug Deeds also scored three times and Christian Snavely went 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored to support starting pitcher Josh Newman. Newman went eight innings throwing 117 pitches allowing two runs on six hits with nine strike outs.

Laratta Named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
E.J. Laratta was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Feb. 26 after he started the season opener for the Buckeyes and delivered a nine-inning shutout. The senior righthander struck out nine batters and allowed only three hits in shutting down the UAB attack to spark OSU to a 3-0-1 start to the season. Laratta moved into a tie for fifth on the all-time Ohio State wins list with 27 and tossed the 15th complete game of his career.