May 24, 2005

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(35-17; 17-12 Big Ten)
May 25-29, 2005
Illinois Field, Champaign, Ill.

First Game: vs. Michigan (40-15, 17-12)
Wednesday, May 25, 1:05 p.m., EDT

NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) o
Neil Sika and Paul Barnes


1982, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003

PROBABLE OHIO STATE PITCHING G1 36 Dan DeLucia, LHP 4-5, 3.15 ERA, 47K, 74.1IP G2 6 Mike Madsen, RHP 6-3, 4.13 ERA, 44K 46.2IP G3 39 Trent Luyster, LHP 6-3, 4.48 ERA, 45K, 78.1IP G4 19 Cory Luebke,.LHP 4-2, 3.66 ERA, 47K, 64.0IP

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State takes aim on its third Big Ten tournament championship in four years when it opens play against Michigan Wednesday at 1:05 p.m., EDT, at the 2005 Big Ten Tournament in Champaign, Ill.

A berth in the tournament came Saturday even before the Buckeyes swept a doubleheader vs. Minnesota. Michigan handed Penn State a loss in the second game of their series, eliminating the Nittany Lions from consideration for the league tournament. Needing only one win or a Penn State loss, the Buckeyes, who lost 9-3 to Minnesota Friday night, came back to win both ends of a twin bill, claiming a 2-1 victory in game one and 3-2 decision in game two. Ohio State won 6-5 in the series finale to put the Buckeyes in a fourth-place tie with Michigan.

The opening-round game is a rematch of the only game that was played between the schools on April 22, an 11-3 Michigan win, in a snow-shortened series. Since that time, Michigan has won 18 of 21 and Ohio State has won 17 of 20 games to make a run at the 19th appearance in the Big Ten tournament and the 17th under head coach Bob Todd, whose teams have qualified for the event in all but one of his 18 seasons as coach of the Buckeyes.

That appearance was in doubt after an 0-5 start in league play, the worst start in Columbus since 1987. As recently as April 29, after a 10-1 loss to Indiana in the opening game of that series, Ohio State was in last place in the Big Ten standings, but since that time has fought back with wins in all but two of 17 games.

All Ohio State games in the Big Ten tournament will be broadcast on NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) and on the Internet at Neil Sika and Paul Barnes will provide commentary. Should Ohio State advance to a fourth straight championship game, it would be televised on a tape-delayed basis by CSTV.

There is no other way to put it than to say the Buckeyes are hot. Winners of 17 of their last 20 games, the Buckeyes are 35-17 overall and 17-12 in the Big Ten.

Ohio State took three of four games from Minnesota last weekend at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus to finish in a fourth-place tie with Michigan. The Buckeyes are the fifth seed in the conference tournament since Michigan won the only meeting between the schools April 22 in Ann Arbor. Ohio State rebounded from a 9-3 loss in the first game against the Golden Gophers for three one-run victories by scores of 2-1, 3-2 and 6-5. All three wins came on the arm of closer Rory Meister, who ended threats before the Buckeyes could win in their final at bat in each of the three games. Ohio State and Meister won the same way in a weekday game May 17 against Miami (Ohio).

Eric Fryer led the team against Minnesota in batting .667 (8-for-12) with one RBI. He drove in the winning run in the series finale with a laser to left field that scored Jacob Howell in the bottom of the eighth inning. Meister, who came in to get the final two outs of the top of the eighth, finished the game to get the first series victory vs. Minnesota since a sweep in 2001. Meister actually got all three wins against the Gophers, getting the final out in game two and the final two outs of game three.

With the great weekend, Fryer now leads his team with a .331 batting average. He has 44 hits on the year with two home runs, 20 RBI and 29 runs scored. He also was the top Buckeye in conference play, batting .400 in 27 games with 26 starts. Ohio State, which is batting .306, the third best average by a team in the Big Ten tournament, has six everyday players batting better than the team’s average. Mike Rabin is batting .327 with 55 hits, 23 RBI and 14 stolen bases, while Jason Zoeller leads the team with 59 hits, six home runs and 45 runs scored. Matt Angle is batting .311, while Jedidiah Stephen is batting .308 with five home runs and 39 RBI. Steve Caravati, the 2004 Big Ten Player of the Year, is batting .319 with 38 hits, 25 RBI and a team-best .513 slugging percentage. Paul Farinacci, who is batting .298 on the year paces the team with 48 RBI and all of the Big Ten with 19 doubles.

Pitching and fielding also has been getting it done for Ohio State. The Buckeyes own the best ERA in the Big Ten at 3.82, just in front of Michigan’s 3.91. The teams are tied with a fielding percentage of .972 to lead the conference.

Ohio State is led by Dan DeLucia and Cory Luebke. DeLucia, who will start against the Wolverines, is 4-5 with 47 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA in 74.1 innings. Luebke, who had been pitching second on the staff prior to last weekend against Minnesota, also has 47 strikeouts, but the Baseball America Mid-season Freshman All-American is 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 64.0 innings. Mike Madsen is penciled as the started in the Buckeyes’ second game in the tournament. He is 6-3 with a 4.13 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. Trent Luyster, who also is 6-3 with a 4.48 ERA and 45 strikeouts in a team-high 78.1 innings, would start game three before giving the ball to Luebke in the fourth game. Meister is 7-0 with four saves in 23 appearances. He has a 1.36 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 39.2 innings, while holding the opposition to a .158 average.

Centerfielder Mike Rabin and starting pitcher Dan DeLucia were the only two Ohio State representatives on 2005 All-Big Ten teams released Tuesday by the conference office. The teams were selected by a vote of the Big Ten head coaches.

Rabin, a outfielder from West Chester, Ohio (Lakota East), earned first-team honors after finishing second on the Ohio State squad with a .327 batting average (55-for-168). He has six doubles, one home run, 23 RBI and 36 runs scored. He also has stolen 14-of-18 bases. The senior co-captain batted .364 in 29 Big Ten games this season. Four of five total outfield assists came in conference play. Rabin has 19 total outfield assists in his career. He ranks second in school history with 693 career at bats and is tied for seventh with 237 career hits. He also has 48 career stolen bases to rank fifth.

DeLucia, a sophomore from Columbus, Ohio (Bishop Watterson), earned third-team honors after becoming the ace of the staff and leading the Buckeyes with 47 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA. He currently is 4-5 overall and finished 3-4 in the Big Ten. DeLucia beat Purdue, Penn State and Northwestern in conference play this season. He pitched 74.1 innings and pitched two complete games. DeLucia is 7-8 in his second year at Ohio State and has started 21 of his 26 appearances and pitched 119.1 innings, the third most on the pitching staff. DeLucia will pitch the opening game against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament.

Cody Caughenbaugh was honored by the conference as the school’s recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Caughenbaugh owns a .274 batting average as the team’s designated hitter. He has 26 hits with six doubles, one triple and two home runs, and has driven in 24 runs and scored 14 times. On May 5, he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Baseball Team. He was named to the first of two teams as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America and is will appear on the ballot for Academic All-America honors later this month.

The Buckeyes are making their 19th overall appearance at the Big Ten Tournament and the 17th under 18th-year head coach Bob Todd. The only year Ohio State has not qualified for the tournament under Todd was in 1996 when Penn State played host to a four-team championship. The Buckeyes had won the tournament in 1994 and 1995, but the void allowed Indiana to win the championship. The appearance by the Buckeyes trails only the 22 appearances made by Minnesota. Michigan is making its 17th Big Ten Tournament. Those three programs are the winningest programs in the history of the event. Minnesota has won eight tournament championships while Ohio State and Michigan are tied with six tournament titles. Minnesota owns a .608 (45-29) winning percentage, while Michigan is second at .597 (34-23). Ohio State third at .594 (38-26).

Ohio State is making its ninth straight appearance at the conference tournament, the longest active streak of any school in the Big Ten and topping the school record of eight appearances from 1988-95. The nine straight berths equals Michigan’s string of nine during the first nine years of the Big Ten tournament.

Ohio State had a combined 6-7 record against the other five teams that qualified for the Big Ten Tournament, though the Buckeyes did not play Iowa this year and three of the four games at Michigan were snowed out. Ohio State took three of four games at home vs. Purdue and at home vs. Minnesota, but were swept at Illinois the opening weekend of conference play. Iowa and Ohio State were scheduled to meet in a non-conference game Feb. 27 in Dothan, Ala., but the game was rained out. Of the five teams Ohio State could meet in this year’s tournament, it has winning records against everyone in previous conference tournament meetings with the exception of Illinois, which leads 4-2. The Buckeyes are 4-1 vs. Purdue, 2-1 vs. Iowa, 8-6 vs. Michigan and 12-11 vs. Minnesota.

Ohio State vs. the Big Ten in the Tournament Illinois 2-4 Indiana 3-0 Iowa 2-1 Michigan 8-6 Michigan State 2-1 Minnesota 12-11 Northwestern 4-0 Penn State 1-2 Purdue 4-1 Total 38-26

Ohio State Against the Field All-Time School Overall Bob Todd Illinois 89-83-2 34-28 Purdue 125-52-1 41-12 Iowa 58-39-1 27-16 Michigan 87-145-2 48-33 Minnesota 68-69-2 34-33-1

Ohio State vs. Overall/Big Ten ’04 Series No. 1 Illinois 33-21-1/20-12 0-4 No. 2 Purdue 25-28/17-11 3-1 No. 3 Iowa 28-27/19-13 0-0 No. 4 Michigan 40-15/17-12 0-1 No. 6 Minnesota 29-27/17-15 3-1 Total 6-7

After a first-round bye, the second-seeded Buckeyes were sent to the loser’s bracket with a 10-4 loss to Michigan. That meant Ohio State would have to win five straight games if it wanted to become the first Big Ten team to win three conference tournament championships. The journey began with an 8-3 victory over Michigan State and immediately followed with a 6-4 win against Purdue.

After that Friday doubleheader, the Buckeyes would have to do it again Saturday. Ohio State exacted revenge against the Wolverines, moving to the championship round with a 14-2 win over Michigan. Needing only two more wins against Minnesota, who had yet to lose. The Scarlet and Gray won its second game of the day, downing the Gophers 3-2 to force a second championship game with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. With injuries to pitchers Scott Lewis and Trent Luyster, Ohio State needed a big day offensively Sunday, but instead, it was all Minnesota, which defeated the Buckeyes 7-3 and become the first No. 1 seed to win the tournament since Ohio State in 1995.

Ohio State went to Ann Arbor April 22-24 trying to claw its way back into contention for a bid to the Big Ten Tournament, instead the Buckeyes and Wolverines played only one of the four games in a snow-shortened series. Michigan relied on the arm of Jim Brauer, who fanned 10, and an eight-run fifth inning to hand Ohio State an 11-3 in the first ever night game at Ray Fisher Stadium.

The Wolverines scored twice in the third thanks to one hit and one Buckeye error, but then used six hits and two more errors to score eight in the fifth to build a 10-0 lead. Eric Fryer launched his first home run as a Buckeye, a one-out, solo shot in the sixth inning that he deposited over the fence in left field to put Ohio State on the board. Michigan got the run back in the bottom of the inning. The Buckeyes scored their final two runs of the game in the eighth inning, using hits by Fryer and Mike Rabin, a pair of Michigan errors and a sacrifice fly by Steve Caravati to pull within the 11-3 final score.

Brauer limited the Buckeyes to only one base runner until the sixth inning when Fryer’s home run stopped a string of 15 straight retired batters. When he left, he had struck out 10 with only one walk and had allowed all three runs on five hits in 7.1 innings. Derek Feldkamp pitched the rest of the way. The two allowed six hits by Ohio State, three of which came off the bat of Rabin and two off of Fryer. Paul Farinacci delivered the only other Buckeye hit.

In the opening game against the Wolverines, Michigan scored six runs in the top of the first and then added four runs in the second to cruise to a 10-4 victory over Ohio State. Michigan gave the Buckeyes little chance at an opening game victory, scoring six runs on six hits, including three doubles. The scoring continued for the Wolverines in the second inning added four runs to take the double-digit lead. The Buckeyes scored once in the bottom of the second and then scored twice more in the third before adding its final run in the eighth. The loss was the worst for the Buckeyes in Big Ten Tournament action since Minnesota handed them a 10-1 loss in a second-round game in 1999 in Columbus.

Ohio State belted out 20 hits and scored in every inning except the eighth to cruise to a 14-2 elimination victory over Michigan. Ohio State scored once in the first and second before adding three runs in the third, five runs in the fifth and another run in the fifth to build a 11-0 lead before allowing the Wolverines on the board with two runs in the top of the sixth. The Buckeyes got them back in the bottom of the inning and then added its final run in the seventh. OSU starting pitcher Jeffrey Carroll, who pitched 4.2 innings in the loss to Michigan earlier in the tournament, retired the first 12 batters of the game and pitched 8.0 innings, allowing the two runs on six hits with a pair of walks and a season-high five strikeouts. Drew Anderson, Jacob Howell, Ronnie Bourquin and Derek Kinnear each had three hits to lead the Buckeyes. Steve Caravati was 2-for-5 with four RBI. Brett Garrard, Paul Farinacci, Mike Rabin and Kinnear each added two RBI.

The Buckeyes opened their series with Minnesota by losing 9-3, but rebounded to win the final three games of the series all by one-run margins. The game one Big Ten loss was the sixth of the year in eight games, but Ohio State rebounded in game two to win 2-1 before winning 3-2 to sweep the doubleheader. The Buckeyes claimed their second ever series win with a 6-5 victory in the finale. All three wins came in the team’s final at bat.

In game one, Minnesota stormed out to a 7-1 lead through 2 1/2 innings and then rode the arm of Matt Lobert to a 9-3 complete game victory. OSU starter Dan DeLucia lasted only 2.1 innings in his shortest start as a Buckeye. He gave up seven runs on five hits to fall to 4-5 on the year. In the ninth inning, Jason Zoeller went long for the sixth time this season, a figure that leads Ohio State.

The score was tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game of the series and the first game of the doubleheader, but Paul Farinacci singled to left field to score Wes Schirtzinger to lift Ohio State to a 2-1 victory. Starter Mike Madsen pitched 6.2 innings before giving way to Rory Meister in the top of the seventh. He hit his first batter to load the bases and but then caught the next batter looking at strike three before Farinacci’s heroics.

There was even more heroics in the nightcap. Farinacci, who won the first game with his RBI single, tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh before Mike Rabin delivered the winning run, pushing a suicide squeeze bunt down the first-base line to beat Minnesota 3-2 in game three. OSU starter Trent Luyster pitched 6.1 innings before giving way to Meister in the top of the seventh. He came in with runners at the corners and got a fly out and a ground out to get out of the inning and set the stage for the second Buckeye win of the series.

It would be hard to follow up the two wins from Saturday, but the Buckeyes did it again breaking a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with a single by Eric Fryer that scored Zoeller to give Ohio State a 6-5 victory and the first series win over Minnesota since 2001. Cory Luebke got the start and went five innings, and after two other relievers, Meister entered the game in the eighth with runners at second and third and only one out. He got out of it with a strikeout and a pop up to get to the bottom of the eighth and then in the ninth he gave up a two-out double off the wall and walked a batter before getting a third called strike to end the game.

Meister picked up all three wins in the series to go with a 3-2 win over Miami (Ohio) to finished 4-0 on the week and build his own record to 7-0 with four saves. Fryer was the offensive leader in the series, going 8-for-12 (.667) with eight singles and one RBI. Farinacci finished 5-for-12 (.417) with three RBI to build his team lead to 48 RBI on the year. Zoeller also finished with five hits, going 5-for-14 (.357).

With four one-run wins last week, Ohio State improved its record to 8-4 in games decided by the slimmest of margins. Actually, the last five Ohio State wins have been decided by one run. The Buckeyes beat Northwestern 1-0 in the series finale May 15 and then beat Miami 3-2 on a sacrifice fly by Matt Angle before claiming 2-1, 3-2 and 6-5 wins over Minnesota last weekend.

The Buckeyes lost 4-3 to then-No. 7 Georgia on March 4 before beating then-No. 4 North Carolina 2-1. The Buckeyes then lost to Bradley 4-3. Illinois beat Ohio State 5-4 in game three of that series and Ohio State beat Michigan State 8-7 in the finale of that series. Other one-run games have come against Eastern Michigan, a 3-2 win, and against Oakland, a 6-5 loss.

The Sunday game vs. Minnesota was the final game at Bill Davis Stadium for a group of six Ohio State seniors, a group that includes three student-athletes who have been a part of the program for five years. Brett Hatcher and co-captains Steve Caravati and Mike Rabin were freshmen in 2001. The three were 196-101-1 and were members of the last Big Ten championship team (2001). In 2002, they were joined by Paul Farinacci, Trent Luyster and Mike Madsen and the six were part of two Big Ten tournament championship teams (2002 and 2003) and were on the team that swept through the 2003 Auburn Regional. That team returned to Columbus for the second super regional appearance in program history and came within two wins of reaching the College World Series. Since 2002, this group of six Buckeyes has combined to lead Ohio State to a record of 153-83-1, the best record by any school in the Big Ten during the same period.

Ohio State has a tradition of freshmen excelling on the diamond as evidenced by the eight Buckeye freshmen who have been named Big Ten Freshman of the Year since the award was created in 1988. Ohio State won four straight from 1999 through 2002 and current Buckeye Jacob Howell won the award last season.

The 2005 freshman class has not disappointed either. Five freshmen have seen significant playing time, including catcher Eric Fryer, outfielder Matt Angle and pitchers Cory Luebke, Rory Meister and Dan Barker. Fryer leads the team with a .331 batting average and has started 43 of his 45 games. He finished second in the league with his .400 batting in conference games with 26 starts in 27 games. Angle is batting .311 and has 32 starts in 46 total games. Luebke is 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA, while Meister is 7-0 with four saves in 23 relief appearances. Barker has made three starts in 10 games and is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

Ohio State designated hitter Cody Caughenbaugh was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Baseball Team, announced last Thursday. Caughenbaugh was a named to the first of two teams as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Caughenbaugh, a red-shirt junior from Newark, Ohio, is a mechanical engineering major and carries a 3.69 GPA in his fourth year of study. He was named the top freshman mechanical engineering student at Ohio State after his first year and the top sophomore mechanical engineering student after his second year. On the field, Caughenbaugh has appeared in 38 games this season with 23 starts. The Licking Valley High School graduate is batting .247 (26-for-95) with six doubles, one triple and two home runs and has driven in 24 runs and scored another 14. Caughenbaugh was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District IV Baseball Team in 2004, as a second-team member.

The Academic All-District IV Team is made up of student-athletes from Division I schools in Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. To be nominated, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher. Team members are selected by a vote of CoSIDA members within the district. The academic all-district team is part of the Academic All-America program.

In the Big Ten rankings that were released Monday, Ohio State is ranked fifth in team batting (.306), behind Michigan (.319), Indiana (.315), Illinois (.312) and Michigan State (.307); ranked first in team ERA (3.82); and was tied for first in fielding (.972). In conference-only stats, the Buckeyes ranked fourth in team batting (.309), second in team ERA (4.39) and were fourth in team fielding (.968).

Not a single Buckeye has a batting average ranked in the Top 10 in the league. Ranking individual ERAs, Dan DeLucia is fifth with his 3.15, while teammate Cory Luebke is eighth with his 3.66 ERA. For overall games, Paul Farinacci leads the Big Ten with 19 doubles. In conference only games, true freshman Eric Fryer is second with his .400 batting average. Mike Madsen’s 3.40 ERA is ranked seventh, while Dan DeLucia’s Big Ten ERA of 3.88 is ranked 10th.

One thing that can be said for Ohio State this season is that it has had to fight back through injuries. 2004 Big Ten Player of the Year Steve Caravati missed 12 games after pulling his hamstring in the season opener against Middle Tennessee in Dothan, Ala. Then, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Jacob Howell, missed 12 games after he injured his shoulder at North Florida on March 11. Those two players finally returned to the lineup at Illinois, but it took a while for them to return to 100 percent.

Mike Madsen, a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, missed two scheduled starts and did not make the trip to Jacksonville after suffering from tendinitis in his right arm following early season appearances as the team’s No. 1 starter against Middle Tennessee and Georgia.

The Buckeyes also lost third baseman Ronnie Bourquin in the third game of the Illinois series after he broke a bone in his left thumb. It was a loss to the Buckeye infield, which entered the season on shaky-enough ground having to find replacements at second base and shortstop as well as a new catcher. Bourquin missed 11 games, returning to start the game at Michigan. With everyone back in the lineup since that game, the Buckeyes are 17-4 and have won 17 of their last 20 games.

The Buckeyes drew 10,876 fans for the Minnesota series the final weekend of the regular season. Ohio State drew 3,012 fans on Friday, 5,128 fans Saturday and 2,736 sat through rain showers to watch the series finale Sunday. In 18 home dates this season, Ohio State drew 45,666 fans, an average of 2,570 per date, a 22 percent increase from 2,133 last season to rank 27th in the nation and first in the Big Ten. In fact, no other school in the conference ranked in the Top 50 nationally.

Freshman outfielder Matt Angle came through with a one-out sacrifice fly to score Jedidiah Stephen and give Ohio State a 3-2 ninth-inning victory over Miami (Ohio) in a non-conference thriller at Bill Davis Stadium.

With the score tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Stephen came through with a one-out base hit through the left side to put the winning run on base. Connor Graham, the fourth RedHawk pitcher of the game, tried to pick off Stephen at first, but an errant throw sent the Buckeye shortstop to third. Graham intentionally walked Paul Farinacci and then loaded the bases with a second walk to Eric Fryer.

Miami skipper Tracy Smith yanked Graham in favor of Sam Shorts and then pulled his centerfielder Jason Brown for David Franco, who plugged the hole up the middle as a fifth infielder. Smith also slid right fielder Brandon Hillier over to cover center field, a configuration Angle admitted after the game to never have seen before. But the rookie connected on a 1-1 pitch and sent the ball deep to right-center field for the sacrifice that delivered Stephen and sealed the Buckeyes’ 32nd victory of the season.

Stephen and Farinacci each had two of Ohio State’s eight hits. Angle was 0-for-4, but came threw with the game-winning sac fly. Miami had five hits and four errors. Rory Meister won his fourth (4-0) game of the season in relief.

Ohio State finished 6-1 in non-conference home games this season after beating Miami (Ohio) May 17. The Buckeyes opened with a 12-4 victory over Toledo on March 30, but followed with their only midweek loss of the season, dropping a 6-5 contest to Oakland. Ohio State rattled off five straight wins, beating Malone 15-4, Eastern Michigan by scores of 10-3 and 3-2, and Cleveland State 12-4, before beating the RedHawks.

Jedidiah Stephen led the Buckeyes in their seven home non-conference games with a .500 batting average. He is 11-for-22 with one home run, nine RBI and five runs scored. Jacob Howell, who has played in six of the games was 7-for-18 (.389) with one triple, five RBI and four runs scored. Jason Zoeller batted .375 (9-for-24) with two doubles, four RBI and a team-best eight runs scored. Ohio State batting .305 in non-conference home games and had a 2.90 ERA, while outscoring the opposition 60-25. Opponents batted only .212.

Four different Buckeyes have double-digit totals in stolen bases this season, led by Mike Rabin, who is 14-for-18 on the base paths this season. Rabin, a senior co-captain, stole eight bases last year after stealing 17 as a sophomore. He stole nine bases as a freshman and now has 48 for his career, which ranks fifth all-time, one behind Bo Rein (1965-67). Roy Marsh (1992-94) stole 73 bases as the school record holder.

Jacob Howell is 13-for-17 this year and Matt Angle is 12-for-14. Wes Schirtzinger is 10-for-12 on the base paths this season. The Buckeyes are 68-for-91 (.747).

The Buckeyes have only 22 home runs in 52 games this season. Those numbers are down from 42 in 2004, 70 in 2003, 61 in 2002 and 59 in 2001. Since Bob Todd became coach in 1988, the fewest home runs hit by Ohio State is 33 in 1989. This year’s total is the fewest in a season since the Buckeyes hit 14 in 1980.

In Bob Todd’s 18 seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have never won fewer than 32 games. His first team went 32-28 in 1988 and his 1990 team went 32-29-1. In Todd’s previous 17 seasons, the Buckeyes have averaged 40.4 wins. His teams have won at least 40 games in nine different season and have won at least 50 games twice, including a school record 52 wins in 1991. The 1999 team had 50 victories.

SINCE 2000
The Buckeyes are the winningest program in the Big Ten since the 2000 with a record of 233-124-1 (.652). No team has more wins or a better winning percentage. Minnesota is second with a record of 206-143 (.590). The Buckeyes have two 40-win seasons since 2000 compared to only one by Minnesota. Each team has made four trips to the NCAA tournament.

Ohio State took three of four games at Northwestern last weekend in Evanston, winning game one to run its win streak to nine games before losing the second game of the series 9-6. The Buckeyes battled back to win game three 10-2 and pitched its way past the Wildcats in the finale 1-0.

The Buckeyes came within one game of its longest win streak of the season by downing Northwestern 7-2 on Friday. Ohio State scored six runs in the first inning and added another in the third and got the second straight complete game from Dan DeLucia. The first six Buckeye batters reached base and the Buckeyes scored four runs before an out was in the book and then scored twice more to take a 6-0 lead before Northwestern came to the plate. DeLucia retired the final six batters of the game to improve to 4-4 on the year and struck out four batters without a walk. Eric Fryer was 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead his team.

Ohio State took a 5-1 lead in the top of the third inning, but Northwestern countered with eight runs in the bottom of the inning on its way to a 9-6 win in the second game of the series. The eight-run third equaled the biggest inning against the Buckeyes this season, matching Michigan’s eight-run outburst in the fifth in their April 22nd game vs. Ohio State. Fryer added his second home run of the year in the fourth inning to close within the three-run final. Trey Fausnaugh fell to 3-2 this season after coming on in the third for starter Cory Luebke. Ronnie Bourquin led the Buckeyes with three hits and one RBI.

In game three, Ohio State scored five runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-2 lead and then added four more runs, including three in the seventh as it got back in the win column with a 10-2 complete game victory by Mike Madsen. Madsen struck out a career-high nine batters to lead the Buckeyes to their 30th win of the season. It was his third complete game of the season and the sixth of his career. Paul Farinacci led the Buckeyes in going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Jedidiah Stephen was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

The Buckeyes took the finale 1-0 on the arms of starter Trent Luyster and closer Rory Meister, who combined to pitch a two-hit shutout to clinch the series victory. Luyster allowed only two hits in his seven innings before giving way to Meister, who entered in the eighth and retired all six batters he faced to pick up his fourth save of the season. Jacob Howell drove in his fifth RBI of the series when he singled down the left-field line in the second inning to score Jason Zoeller for the only score of the game. It was just the second shutout this season to go with a 3-0 shutout of Indiana in game two of that series April 30.

With the three win, Ohio State has won 11 of its last 12 games and 14 of its last 17. Bourquin led the Buckeyes in Evanston in batting .462 (6-for-13) with two RBI. Fryer, Mike Rabin and Howell each had five hits, while collecting three, four and five RBI, respectively. The Buckeyes batted only .289 but were aided by a 3.48 ERA and a .196 opponent batting average.

Ohio State swept Penn State in State College, Pa., last weekend to climb from eighth to fifth in the Big Ten standings. The Buckeyes won their first series opener of the season by an 11-2 score, took the doubleheader by scores of 13-10 and 29-2 and the won 11-6 in the finale for the first sweep in the Big Ten this season and the first since winning four games at Indiana in 2004.

The Buckeyes hit .453 in the four games and outscored the Nittany Lions 64-20 and outslugged them 77-41, including a school record 33 runs in game three. Ohio State had 20 doubles, including a season-high in the game-three route. Ohio State added two triples and had only three home runs in the four games. The Buckeyes touched 44 bases in the 27-run win in the third game. Penn State had 14 errors in the series compared to only three by Ohio State.

Dan DeLucia pitched his first career complete game to fuel the Buckeyes to their first win in a series opener this season. The Buckeyes were winless in the previous five series openers, but sprinted out to a 10-0 lead to help DeLucia earn his third win of the season with the team’s 11-2 victory. Mike Rabin was 3-for-3 and walked three times to reach base all six of his plate appearances.

In game two, Ohio State fell behind 9-5 after two innings, but after Brett Hatcher came in for starter Cory Luebke, Nittany Lions bats fell quiet and the Buckeyes came back for a 13-10 victory. Hatcher went 4.1 innings and allowed only one run on four hits with three strikeouts before he gave way to Rory Meister, who picked up his third save. Caravati was 4-for-5 with four RBI and gave the Buckeyes a 10-9 lead with his second of three extra-base hits in the game. Rabin reached in his first to at bats to run his streak to eight consecutive reaches before that was broken up with a ground out in the fourth. Rabin came within five of the 1934 school record of 13 set by John Prosenjak.

It was an unbelievable scene in the nightcap of the Sunday twinbill. The Buckeyes sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs before the first out of the game could be recorded. The games first 14 batters all scored as the Buckeyes were able to build a 14-0 lead before senior Mike Madsen threw his first pitch. Ohio State added four in the second, five in the third and five more in the fourth to take a 28-0 lead before Penn State plated it first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The 29 runs were the most in Big Ten play since the Buckeyes won 34-4 at Michigan State in 1999 and the most runs in any game since a 38-15 victory over Toledo in Albuquerque, N.M. in 2002. The Buckeyes used 16 players on offense and only two – Jason Zoeller and Matt Angle – finished the game. All but two of the 16 batted in at least one run and all 16 had at least one hit, led by six players who had three hits each. Cody Caughenbaugh was 2-for-4 and batted in five runs.

Ohio State scored six runs in the first four innings and added two runs in seventh and eighth innings before adding the final run in the ninth as it cruised to an 11-6 victory and a series sweep over Penn State. Caravati led a group of three players that were 3-for-5 in the game. He delivered three RBI and was joined by Angle and Stephen with three-hit efforts.

Rabin, Caravati and Angle each had nine hits in the series. Rabin and Caravati each were 9-for-15 (.600) and Angle was 9-for-21 (.429). The Buckeyes

Ohio State had to rebound after its Friday night loss to Indiana to claim the final three games of the series to win the series three games to none. Indiana kept the Buckeyes winless on Friday in Big Ten play with a 10-1 triumph before Ohio State came back to win 3-0 and 7-3 in the doubleheader and 10-8 in the series finale.

The Hoosiers jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Ohio State scored its only run of the game in the fourth and then they added two more runs in the seventh before a Buckeye meltdown allowed five more runs to cross the plate in the top of the ninth. Dan DeLucia struck out seven and walked two in giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 6.1 innings before turning over the reigns to the bullpen in the seventh.

In game two, Cory Luebke threw his third complete game as a Buckeye and was supported by runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings as Ohio State recorded its first shutout of the season. Luebke allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out three to improve to 4-2 on the year. Jedidiah Stephen drove in the first run in the second, Steve Caravati knocked in Mike Rabin in the fifth and then Ronnie Bourquin hit his second home run of the year, a solo shot, to lead off the sixth and give OSU the 3-0 win.

In the nightcap, Ohio State pitchers struck out a season-high 12 batters, including a career-best eight strikeouts from Mike Madsen, and Rory Meister earned his first career save as the Buckeyes beat Indiana 7-3 Saturday. Leading 5-3 with runners at the corners and two out in the fifth, Meister came in to retire the final seven batters of the game to earn his first career save. Matt Angle and Jason Zoeller each went 3-for-4. For Madsen, it was his second win in the week after he beat Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.

In the series finale, Ohio State had to fight back from a 4-1 deficit to win 10-8. The Buckeyes tied the game in the fourth and added single runs in the fifth and sixth before Caravati got things going in the seventh with his first home run of the season that sparked a four-run inning. The Buckeyes gave up four runs in the top of the eighth, but Meister came in to preserve the two-run win to get his second straight save.

Ohio State freshman pitcher Rory Meister has been named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week (May 2) after making five relief appearances in the Buckeyes’ six games. Meister helped guide the Buckeyes to a 5-1 week by striking out 13 batters in 11.2 innings and picking up the first two saves of his career. The freshman right-hander allowed no runs and only two hits during the week while walking only two batters. In two midweek contests with Eastern Michigan, Meister entered the first game with the bases loaded and no outs and struck out the first hitter he faced before forcing a double play. In the second outing, he struck out a career-high five batters in three and two-thirds innings. Against the Hoosiers, he finished game three of the series by retiring the final seven batters he faced before earning his second career save in the finale by preserving a two-run lead. Meister is the second OSU hurler to be named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week this season as teammate Trent Luyster was selected on March 7.

Michigan State was trying to do something last weekend at Ohio State that no team had ever been able to do before and that was sweep the Buckeyes at Bill Davis Stadium. In the nine-year history of the stadium, only Michigan had won a series on the Buckeyes home turf (2003 and 2004). This time it was different. The Spartans won the first three games of the series (not even the Wolverines did that) to make a sweep possible, but Ohio State won in the bottom of the ninth to thwart the Spartan bid.

Ohio State lost the first three games 2-0, 12-3 and 8-1. It scored only four runs and had only 22 hits in the first three games of the series. The Buckeyes won 8-7 in the series finale, getting an RBI single from freshman Matt Angle to score freshman Eric Fryer, who reached on a hit of his own and then stole second to set up the score. Ohio State relief pitching allowed a grand slam to tie the game in the top of the ninth after leading by as many as five runs two different times. The Buckeyes finished the series with 12 runs on 35 hits, while Michigan State scored 29 runs on 45 hits.

Senior outfielder and co-captain Mike Rabin led the Buckeyes in going 6-for-12 with three runs batted in and two runs scored. He launched his third career home run in the second game of the series. Chris Macke, Jedidiah Stephen and Jacob Howell each delivered four hits in the series, though the Buckeyes hit just .276. Rabin is the leading Buckeye hitter in Big Ten play, batting .342 in the 12 games. He and Paul Farinacci each have three hits, while Farinacci has delivered seven RBI.

For Michigan State, Sean Walker belted three home runs and drove in four RBI, including the grand slam that tied game four in the top of the ninth. He had five hits and a slugging percentage of 1.077. He and teammate Tim Day who pitched an eight-hit complete game in the 2-0 victory on Friday, earned Big Ten player and pitcher of the week for their performances against the Scarlet and Gray.

Ohio State freshman left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke was named to Baseball America’s mid-season Freshman All-America Team in April. Luebke, a 18th-round draft by of the Pittsburgh Pirates last summer, is one of four starting pitchers to appear on the list. He joins James Adkins (LHP, Tennessee), David Prince (LHP, Vanderbilt) and Nick Schmidt (LHP, Arkansas).

Ohio State took three of four games from Purdue April 8-10 at Bill Davis Stadium. In the Big Ten home opener, the Boilermakers handed the Buckeyes a 7-1 loss, their sixth loss in a row. Ohio State regrouped on Saturday to take both ends of the doubleheader, 6-4 and 5-1, before clinching the series win with a 4-2 victory in game four.

Despite getting a career-high 10 strikeouts from starter Trent Luyster, the Buckeye defense let the game get away from them. Trailing only 3-1 entering the ninth inning, two Purdue hits and two Buckeye errors led to four runs in the inning as the Boilermakers cruised to the six-run victory. It was the sixth straight loss for Ohio State.

Some say the third time is the charm, but for Ohio State head coach Bob Todd, it took seven times to earn his 700th career victory after winning No. 699 on March 30. After Cody Caughenbaugh tied the game 3-3 with a single, Jason Zoeller launched his fourth home run of the season, a three-run blast, to give the Buckeyes a 6-3 lead. Purdue was able to add a run, but Todd and the Buckeyes walked off the field victorious after the 6-4 win. In game three of the series, Jacob Howell was 2-for-2 with two RBI and Mike Madsen pitched his first complete game of the season to give Ohio State a 5-1 triumph to sweep the doubleheader. Madsen struck out six, allowed only four hits in winning his 19th game of his career.

Dan DeLucia and Jeffrey Carroll, both 2003 graduates of Bishop Watterson High School, combined to pitch the Buckeyes to a 4-2 victory in game four to clinch the series win. DeLucia retired the first 14 batters he faced but allowed both runs on seven hits before giving way to Carroll in the eighth. Carroll was touched for only one hit in picking up his first career save.

For only the second time at Ohio State since Bob Todd began coaching, the Buckeyes were swept in a four-game conference series. Illinois swept the series in grand fashion, winning the finale with a two-run walk-off home run to seal a 6-4 victory and only the sixth-ever sweep against Ohio State since the Big Ten began playing four-game series in 1981. The Illini won the first three games of the series by scores of 7-1, 4-1 and 5-4.

Illinois erupted for five runs on six hits in the sixth inning to hand the Buckeyes a 7-1 loss and snap their 10-game win streak. J.R. Kyes went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs to lead Illinois. Jedidiah Stephen led Ohio State with a single and a double. Paul Farinacci delivered the only OSU run in the top of the second inning. Trent Luyster fell to 4-2 with the loss. Jason Zoeller’s 13-game hit streak came to an end.

In game two, the Illini scored all four of their runs in the first inning to down the Buckeyes 4-1. Steve Caravati drove in Zoeller with a double down the left field line in the sixth inning. Zoeller, Caravati and Ronnie Bourquin had the three hits for Ohio State. In the second game of a doubleheader, Illinois dodged a late-inning rally by Ohio State to win 5-4. The Illini had sprinted to a 5-0 lead after the fourth inning before Farinacci delivered his first home run of the season, a grand slam he bounced off the top of the right-field fence in the top of the sixth. The Buckeyes stranded one runner in the seventh when Bourquin was tagged out sliding into first.

The luck of the Buckeyes appeared to change in the series finale when they took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning, but Illinois tied the game in the bottom of the inning before the two-run walk-off home run in the ninth won the game 6-4. Mike Rabin was 3-for-4 in the game, while Zoeller and Chris Macke each had two hits and one RBI. Reliever Trey Fausnaugh gave up the home run to get the loss. The last 0-4 start by Ohio State was in 1987, the year before Todd arrived to Columbus.

Former Ohio State Buckeye Nick Swisher appeared on the opening-day roster of the Oakland Athletics. Swisher, who finished the 2004 season on the Oakland roster after being called up Sept. 3, became the highest-ever drafted player from Ohio State when he was picked 16th overall in the first round of the 2002 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He batted .323 in his three years with the Buckeyes, batting in 156 runs with 35 home runs. He had a .613 slugging percentage and a .452 on-base percentage while at Ohio State and was a starter in 166 of the 169 games in which he played. During his junior season, Swisher batted .348 with a team-best 52 RBI and 10 home runs. Swisher, a First Team All-Big Ten selection both as a sophomore and junior, had 64 hits, including 10 homers in 2002. He was a freshman All-American and was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2000.

The field of 64 that will make up the NCAA tournament will be announced Monday at 11:30 a.m., EDT, on ESPN2. Regionals will be held June 3-6 and Super Regionals will be held June 10-13. The College World Series will be June 17-27.