May 10, 2001
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – This script has a familiar ring to it. In the final weekend of the regular season it’s Ohio State vs. Michigan with the Buckeyes needing to win in order to secure the Big Ten Championship. Instead of Ohio Stadium or the Big House hosting the border war, Bill Davis Stadium will be the site of this showdown. The magic number for Ohio State is four games. Any combination of Ohio State wins and Purdue losses this weekend equaling four will ensure the Buckeyes the 2001 Big Ten Championship. But the road will not be easy. The Wolverines enter this week fighting for their lives as they need as many wins as possible to guarantee a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Something has to give. The series opener is Friday at 6:35 p.m. The team’s play a twi-night doubleheader Saturday at 4:05 p.m. On Mother’s Day, the team’s play the series finale at 1:05 p.m.
The Magic Number is Four Entering this weekend’s conference action the Buckeyes have a half-game lead over Purdue. Any combination of Ohio State wins and Purdue losses equaling four, will lock up the Big Ten Championship for the Buckeyes. In order for the Boilermakers to take the title, they would have to sweep Iowa and need OSU to lose one game to the Wolverines. Because of finals, Purdue plays host to Iowa in a Saturday – Monday series. Minnesota still has an outside shot in third place. The following is a look at what needs to happen to win the conference crown:
What if … Champion OSU goes 4-0 OSU
OSU goes 3-1, OSU Purdue loses at least one game
Purdue goes 4-0 PU OSU loses at least one game
Purdue goes 3-1 or better PU OSU goes splits or worse
Minnesota goes 4-0 OSU,MINN* OSU and Purdue split * Due to Big Ten Tie Breaker, OSU would host the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll and No. 27 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. The Buckeyes cracked the national polls during the week of March 26 and have been ranked six out of the last seven weeks.
The four-game series will be televised. SPORT! Television will broadcast the series opener Friday. Randy Rhinehart will call the action with former Major League catcher Larry Owen providing the color commentary. SPORT! Television, created through a partnership between Insight Communications (Channel 36) and Time Warner Communications (Channel 24), reaches more than 300,000 households in the central Ohio area. The Ohio News Network (ONN) will broadcast the final three games live. Marty Bannister will call the action with Greg Frey on Saturday and Bob Spears on Sunday doing the color commentary. ONN’s complete statewide channel listings can be found on the Internet at ONNnews.com. ONN is Ohio’s own 24-hour cable news channel, featuring local news, weather, sports and information relevant to the lives of Ohioans. WOSU Radio (820 AM) and ohiostatebuckeyes.com will air games one, two and four of the series live with the tandem of Herb Howenstine and the jovial Frank Fraas calling the action. Game three is a live Internet only broadcast.
Welcome Diamond Club
Saturday, May 12, will feature three events for the Diamond Club. At noon, the annual Captains’ Luncheon will take place at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. At 2 p.m., the OSU Alumni Game will be held at Bill Davis Stadium. At the conclusion of the game, the Diamond Club will host a cookout.
The Buckeyes will honor their class of 2001 Sunday against Michigan. The eight members of the senior class playing their final regular season game at Bill Davis Stadium are Chris Alvord, Todd Calcamuggio, Mike Check, Cory Cox, Kevin Goodrum, Mike Harris, John Mayor and Trent McIlvain. The class enters this weekend having accumulated a 161-66 four-year record and winners of the 1999 Big Ten and NCAA Columbus Regional Championships.
Entering this week, Ohio State’s 37-13 overall record and .740 winning percentage ranked No. 17 in the country.
Swisher Heating Up
Nick Swisher has been named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. In four games last week, Swisher batted .500 (8-for-16) with a double, three home runs and 12 runs batted in. He compiled an impressive 1.125 slugging percentage. On Thursday, against Cincinnati, with OSU down 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Swisher blasted a three-run home run to give OSU a lead it never relinquished. The Buckeyes won the game, 14-3. In the Indiana series, he batted .462 (6-for-13) with a double, two home runs and nine RBI. In game two of the series, he hammered two home runs and drove in six runs to help lead OSU to a 10-8 win. Swisher belted a three-run home run in the first inning, a two-run home run in the fifth and drove in a run with a single in the seventh inning.
Laratta Letting Loose
Ohio State ace pitcher E.J. Laratta has been nearly untouchable in his last two outings. In the series opener, he tossed a complete-game five hitter in OSU’s 10-1 win over Indiana. Laratta dominated the Hoosiers allowing just one run, walking two batters and recording seven strikeouts. Indiana mustered just a .152 average in the game. The win improved his record to 8-2 and the complete-game was his second in consecutive conference weekends. Two weeks ago against Minnesota, he threw a complete game and limited the Golden Gophers to two runs.
Freshman Steve Caravati is leading the Big Ten with six triples. His 0.15 triples per game average ranks him No. 8 in the country. Caravati is one away from tying the OSU single-season record of seven set by Dale Hampshire in 1959.
In the 10-1 win over Indiana Friday, Mike Harris became just the second player in school history to steal at least 30 bases in a season. The second baseman enters this week leading the Big Ten with 32 steals. Roy Marsh was the only other person in Buckeye history to enter the 30 stolen base club when he swiped 34 and 32 bases in 1994 and 1993, respectively.
The Ohio State Offense
Entering this weekend, the Buckeyes are carrying a .315 batting average with 55 home runs and 341 runs batted in. Mike Check is leading the team with a .369 BA and is second with 25 stolen bases. Nick Swisher is supplying the power with a team-best 15 home runs, 50 runs batted in and .734 slugging percentage. Mike Harris has stolen a team-leading 32 bases.
The OSU Pitching Staff
Entering this weekend, the OSU pitching staff has a combined 4.07 earned run average with 295 strikeouts. E.J. Laratta (8-2) leads the team with eight wins and 80 innings pitched. Greg Prenger leads the starting pitchers with a 3.28 ERA. Cory Cox has a team best 10 saves.
Cox Sets Records
In OSU’s 10-8, game two win over Indiana May 6, stopper Cory Cox broke his own school record and saved his 10th game of the season. He became the only person in school history to record double-digit saves and adds to his career-record total of 27 saves. Cox’s 10 saves is the third most in the country.
OSU Wins Indiana Series
Last weekend, the Buckeyes took 2-of-3 from the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind. In game one Friday, OSU used a stellar pitching performance from E.J. Laratta and a late offensive outburst to post a 10-1 victory. Laratta went the distance, allowing just five hits and a run. He walked two, struck out seven and picked off two runners. The following day, the teams split a doubleheader with OSU winning game one, 10-8, and losing game two, 5-4. In the 10-8 win, the Buckeyes took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning courtesy Nick Swisher’s 14th home run of the season. Later in the game, he notched his third multiple-home-run game of the season when he belted his 15th home run of the season. He finished the game 4-for-5 with six runs batted in. Indiana attempted a rally in the seventh inning but stopper Cory Cox recorded the final out to pick up his school record setting 10th save of the season. In the backend of the doubleheader, Indiana rallied after being down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, with two runs to defeat the Buckeyes, 5-4. The series finale Monday was cancelled because of rain.
Led by a solid outing from starting pitcher Josh Newman, the Buckeyes made easy work of the Cleveland State Vikings winning 9-0 Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium. Mike Check went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in and Steve Caravati blasted his fourth home run of the season to lead the OSU offense. Newman improved to 7-2 on the season after throwing four shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and recorded three strikeouts as he led the Buckeyes to their sixth shutout of the season.
Scouting the Wolverines
The Michigan Wolverines enter this week with a 25-23 overall record and in sixth place in the Big Ten with a 9-11 mark. Last weekend, UM lost 3-of-4 against Michigan State. Entering this week, Brock Koman leads the team in every major hitting category with a .382 batting average, 11 home runs and 51 runs batted in. Mike Sokol and Nate Wright are tied for second on the team with five home runs. As a team, the Wolverines have a .295 BA with 35 home runs and 264 runs batted in. From the mound, Bobby Korecky has been the team’s ace. He enters this week with a 5-3 record and 2.94 earned run average. Jeff Trzos has a team best three saves. As a staff, the Wolverines carry a 4.90 ERA and opponents are carrying a .282 BA. The head coach is Geoff Zahn. He is in his sixth year at the helm.
OSU vs. Michigan All-Time
The Wolverines lead the all-time series between the schools, 134-77-2. Over Bob Todd’s 14-year tenure, the Buckeyes have compiled a 37-21 record. In the past five years, OSU has a 24-8 edge. Last year, OSU lost 3-of-4 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
OSU vs. Michigan Last Year
Last year, the Wolverines won 3-of-4 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Buckeyes lost the first three games and avoided the sweep with a 14-4 series finale victory. Greg Prenger earned the win with six innings of relief work. Chris Alvord led the Buckeyes with a .600 batting average, including a home run.
Dirty Deeds In the fifth inning of OSU’s 10-8, game two win over Indiana on May 6, Doug Deeds belted his 11th home run of the season. The home run total is the most by an OSU freshman since Nick Swisher smacked 10 bombs last year.
A Stolen Record
On May 6, during game three of the Indiana series, Mike Harris helped set a team stolen base record when he swiped OSU’s 85th base of the season. The old record of 84 was set in 1994.
Climbing Up the Ranks
Last weekend, junior pitcher E.J. Laratta picked up his 25th career win and pitched career inning No. 267.1 in OSU’s, 10-1, game one victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. The totals rank him No. 8 in both respective categories in OSU career history
OSU Career Wins 1. Justin Fry 1995-99 36 2. Pete Perini 1947-50 30 3. Scott Klingenbeck 1990-92 28 Tom Schwarber 1987-91 28 5. Chris Granata 1991-94 27 6. Bill Cuningham 1982-85 26 Mark Dempsey 1977-80 26 8. E.J. Laratta 1999-pres. 25 Matt Beaumont 1992-94 25
OSU Career Innings Pitched 1. Justin Fry 1995-99 419.2 2. Pete Perini 1947-59 344.0 3. Chris Granata 1991-94 295.1 4. Tom Schwarber 1987-91 278.0 5. Mark Dempsey 1977-80 289.1 6. Doug Swearingen 1980-83 278.1 7. Scott Klingenbeck 1990-92 277.2 8. E.J. Laratta 1999-pres. 267.1
Big Ten Dominance
With the 2-1 series win over Indiana, the Buckeyes now have won or tied 85-of-97 Big Ten series in the 14-year tenure of head coach Bob Todd. The team won 5-of-6 Big Ten series this year (3-1 over Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State, 2-2 split with Penn State and 4-0 sweep over Minnesota.
In the five-year history of Bill Davis Stadium, the Buckeyes never have lost a Big Ten series at home. The Buckeyes have compiled a 96-30 overall record at home.
The Slimmest of Margins
This season, the Buckeyes are 7-3 in one-run games. To put this statistic in perspective, OSU finished 9-10 last year and 4-2 in 1999 in games decided by a single run.
Walk This Way
The combination of a selective eye at the plate and respect from opposing pitchers has given Nick Swisher 46 walks in 47 games. Not only does he lead the Big Ten Conference in this category, he also is second on the OSU single season record list for walks. Doug Dendinger is right behind Swisher with 45 walks in 48 games.
Name Year Walks 1. Mike Lockwood 1997 50 2. Nick Swisher 2001 46 3. Doug Dendinger 2001 45 Greg Mohler 1982 45 4. Chris Williams 1995 44 5. Mike Durant 1991 42 Jason Trott 1999 42
Swisher Invited to USA Trials
USA Baseball announced last week that Nick Swisher was one of 19 collegiate players invited to the 2001 USA Baseball National Team Trials. The trials will be held in Tucson, Ariz., June 16-19. “It’s a great honor to be invited,” Swisher said. “Just to be considered in this group is something special. But right now, my focus in on Ohio State baseball and the things we are playing for right now. I’m sure when the season is over, I’ll focus on making the National Team, but right now, it’s really the farthest thing from my mind.” The USA National Team will be selected from a pool of approximately 20-29 players, of which an additional 5-10 have yet to be determined. Team USA will play approximately 30 games on the Red. White and Blue Summer tour, beginning June 22 with the 30th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, which this year will be played in Japan.
This is My House
Freshman Steve Caravati quickly has made Bill Davis Stadium his favorite ballpark to play in. In 19 games, including 10 starts, the outfielder is batting .452 (19-for-42) with three doubles, three triples, three home runs and 24 runs batted in. His home slugging percentage is an astounding .860 percent. On March 10, he became the first player in Bill Davis Stadium’s 5-year history to hit for the cycle. Against the Detroit Titans, he opened the game with a one-run double in the first inning. In the third inning, Caravati belted a solo home run. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, he sent a shot off the center field wall for a bases-clearing triple. In his final at bat, Caravati spanked a RBI single to left field. For the game, he finished 4-for-4 with eight RBI. On April 6, he missed his second career cycle by a double in OSU’s 11-6 win over Illinois.
The Old Man
Friday, April 6 against Illinois, stopper Cory Cox set a school record by making his 80th career appearance as a Buckeye. The old record of 79 was held by Andy Lee (1996-99). Cox enters this weekend with 91 career appearances. He (23 years and 1 month) may be the senior member of the pitching staff, but he isn’t the senior member of the team. Catcher Chris Alvord (23 years and 7 months) was born Sept. 1, 1977 and is the only member of the team born that year.
Show of Unity
Five members of the Ohio State catching corps have shaved their heads in a show of unity. Self nicknamed “The Usty’s,” the trend was started when Todd “Musty” Calcamuggio, who wears his head shaved all year round, helped convince Chris “Dusty” Alvord to sport the same look during the Spring Break Trip in Bradenton, Fla. In the two weeks since, Derek “Busty” Kinnear, Doug “Clusty” Larason and Brian “Rusty” Panke have followed suit, giving the catchers a more aerodynamic look collectively.
Wow … What a Start
The 20-5 start by Ohio State was the best 25 game start the program has seen since 1991 when the Buckeyes opened the season with a 21-4 record. That year, OSU won the Big Ten and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 1994, the Buckeyes streaked to a 19-6 start and eventually finished with the best record in the nation at 49-9.
Lights Out Baseball
The April 4 game against Wright State marked the first game in Bill Davis Stadium history delayed and ultimately suspended because of light failure. Initially, the lights went out during daylight and were temporarily restored. The game was then delayed at 8:32 p.m. after another outage and was restarted at 9:08 p.m. The final power outage occurred at 9:26 p.m. in the top of the ninth inning and the game was then suspended by the umpires.
USA Baseball Adds Todd
USA Baseball has named Ohio State baseball head coach Bob Todd as the third and final assistant coach of the 2001 USA Baseball National Team. The team will consist of collegiate all-stars that will play approximately 30 games on the USA Baseball Red, White and Blue Tour this summer. Pat McMahon of Mississippi State is the head coach and will be assisted by Paul Stevens of Northwestern and Dusty Rhodes of North Florida. In June, USA Baseball, McMahon and his coaching staff will select a team comprised primarily of the nation’s top freshman and sophomore collegiate players. The players will assemble at the training site in Tucson, Ariz., then depart for Japan to play a five-game series against the Japanese Collegiate All-Stars in Tokyo and Okinawa. Upon returning from Japan, the team will play approximately 25 additional games in July in various states on the USA Red, White and Blue Tour, including Alaska, Ohio and New York.
Single game tickets are currently on sale and will be based on availability. For the general public, box seats are $10 and general admission is $5. For Ohio State students, box seats are $6 and general admission is $3. Groups of 10 or more will be able to purchase general admission seats for $2 each. For questions or to order tickets, please contact the Ohio State Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-BUCKS or at (614) 292-6861 or log on to www.hangonsloopy.com.
OSU baseball results can easily be found on the Internet at ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
The Buckeyes have qualified for the Big Ten Tournament. The site of the tournament has yet to be determined as it is awarded to the regular season champions. The six-team, double-elimination event is from Wednesday, May 16 – Saturday, May 20.