May 2, 2001
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – What a difference a week makes. A week ago, the No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes were in third place in the Big Ten Conference and getting ready to challenge first place Minnesota. A four-game sweep, a split in the Purdue/Indiana series and a week later, the Buckeyes find themselves on top of the conference standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season and most importantly – in control of their own destiny. This week, OSU breaks its normal routine and plays host to two nonconference games. On Wednesday, the Buckeyes play host to Eastern Michigan at 6:35 p.m. The following day, OSU plays host to Cincinnati at 6:35 p.m. Saturday, the team travels to Bloomington, Ind., for a four-game series with the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Eastern Michigan game will be broadcast live on WOSU Radio (820 AM) and ohiostatebuckeyes.com. The Cincinnati contest will not be broadcast. This weekend, WOSU Radio (820 AM) and ohiostatebuckeyes.com will air games one, two and four of the series live. The tandem of Herb Howenstine and the jovial Frank Fraas will call the action for every game. Game three is a live Internet only broadcast.
Back in the Rankings
After a week absence, the Buckeyes returned to the Top 25 in two polls. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, OSU is ranked No. 24. In the Collegiate Baseball poll, the Buckeyes are ranked No. 25. The Buckeyes cracked the national polls during the week of March 26 and have been ranked five out of the last six weeks.
A Look at the Race
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Buckeyes are the only team among the top three in the Big Ten standings playing conference games this weekend. OSU had its bye week during the March 23-25 weekend. The Buckeyes will conclude the regular season when they play host to Michigan May 11-13. That weekend, Minnesota plays host to Northwestern and Purdue plays host to Iowa.
Swisher Invited to Trials
USA Baseball announced Tuesday 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.
Dinger Named POW
Junior outfielder Doug Dendinger stepped up his play in the Minnesota series and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. In helping lead OSU to its first ever four-game sweep over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Dendinger led the Buckeyes with a .600 batting average (6-for-10) with four runs scored, a triple, home run and six runs batted in. In the series opener, he went 2-for-3 and drove in the eventual game-winning run in the fifth inning of OSU’s 7-2 win. In game three, Dendinger drove in the game-winning run with a RBI single in the fifth inning of the team’s 5-3 win. In the series finale, he belted a three-run home run to break open the game and vault OSU to a 5-1 win.
Mr. Clutch Strikes Again
Unbelievable may be the only word to describe freshman Christian Snavely’s ability to come through in clutch situations. His performance in the series finale against Minnesota may have been his best. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with one out and a runner on first, Snavely blasted a pinch-hit, two run home run to give OSU a 2-1 lead. The Buckeyes eventually won the game. The blast was his third late inning, game-winning home run in Big Ten play this season. In the opener of the Michigan State series, Snavely again entered the game as a pinch-hitter, with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning with the game tied at six. He took a 2-2 offering from Michigan State reliever Bryan Gale and belted it over the right field wall for a game-winning grand slam. The Buckeyes needed every run as MSU scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning. OSU held on for the 10-9 win. In series finale, Snavely went 2-for-4 with two solo home runs to help lead OSU to a 13-3 win over the Spartans. Snavely finished the series with a .400 batting average (4-for-10) with three home runs and six runs batted in. On April 7 against Illinois, Snavely smacked a game-winning, two run, walk-off home run in the bottom half of the seventh inning in OSU’s 6-5 win over Illinois. On April 1 at Iowa, with the Buckeyes down 5-4 in the top of the seventh and final inning, Snavely led off with a triple down the left field line. He scored two batters later and OSU would eventually win the game, 6-5.
The Buckeyes received exceptional outings from all four of their starting pitchers, who led the team to its first ever four-game sweep over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. E.J. Laratta, Kevin Goodrum, Greg Prenger and Josh Newman combined to go 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and worked at least 6.1 innings per game. The staff shut down a Minnesota offense that entered the series with a .324 batting average and scored an average of 7.05 runs per game. In four games, the Gophers batted just .262 and scored an average of 2.25 runs per game. UM totaled a season low nine runs in the series. The Gophers’ previous low output for a four-game Big Ten series this season was 29 runs. OSU’s fab foursome recorded 24 strikeouts to just eight walks. In the series opener, Laratta (7-2) pitched his first complete game win in leading OSU to a 7-2 win. He threw a warrior-like 142 pitches, gave up two runs and recorded five strikeouts. In the Saturday doubleheader, Goodrum (4-1) and Prenger (4-0) each recorded wins, combined for 12 strikeouts and did not walk a single batter. In the series finale on Sunday, Newman (5-2) did not get the decision but kept the Buckeyes in the ballgame by giving up just one run in 7.2 innings of work. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate threw 120 pitches, allowed his only run of the game in the first inning and recorded five strikeouts.
Bring Out the Brooms
Last weekend, the Buckeyes did what very few expected – they swept a four-game series over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. With the series win, Ohio State has taken over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten Conference with two weekends remaining in the season. The series opener on Friday set the tone for the weekend. Led by a stellar pitching performance by ace E.J. Laratta, OSU defeated UM, 7-2. In the Saturday doubleheader, Kevin Goodrum and Greg Prenger each recorded wins. In the series finale on Sunday a pair of true-freshman put together a couple of amazing performances. Starting pitcher Josh Newman did not get the decision but kept the Buckeyes in the ballgame by giving up just one run in 7.2 innings of work. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with one out, a runner on first and OSU down 1-0, Christian Snavely blasted a pinch-hit, two-run home run to give OSU a 2-1 lead. The Buckeyes eventually won the game, 5-1. The blast was his third late inning, game-winning home run in Big Ten play this season.
The 4-0 series sweep over Minnesota was the first for OSU over the Golden Gophers. It was also the program’s first series sweep since a sweep over Purdue in 1998.
Harris Gets No. 100
In the eighth inning of OSU’s 5-1, series finale win over Minnesota, Mike Harris stole the 100th base of his career. Harris stole 72 bases his first three seasons at the Citadel. This year, he leads the Big Ten with 28 thefts.
A Look at the Season
After starting the season with a 3-5 record after playing in the Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette, La., and the Kennel Club Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., the Buckeyes have gone 31-6 since that time. Included in the 37 game stretch are a 17-game winning streak, series wins over Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State and last weekend’s series sweep over Minnesota.
Scouting the Eagles
Eastern Michigan enters this week with a six-game losing streak, 15-8 overall record and a 12-10 mark in the Mid-American Conference. Against Big Ten schools, the Eagles are 0-5 with losses to Northwestern, Michigan (2) and Michigan State (2). Last weekend, EMU was swept in a four-game series at Ball State. Offensively, Tony Palazzolo leads the team with a .358 batting average. Ryan Goleski has a team leading nine home runs and Nick Soliz paces the team with 30 runs batted in. Greg Angline has stolen a team best 11 bases. As a group, the Eagles carry a .251 BA, with 38 home runs and 186 RBI. On the mound, Joe Linde (5-5) leads the team with five wins. Anthony Tomey has been EMU’s top reliever with three saves. As a staff, the Eagles carry a 6.53 earned run average. Roger Coryell is the head coach. He is in his 15th year at the helm.
OSU vs. EMU All-Time
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 3-0. Last year, the Buckeyes defeated the Eagles, 9-1, and pitcher Greg Prenger picked up his first career win. Trent McIlvain paced the offense, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
Scouting the Bearcats
The Cincinnati Bearcats enter this week with a 29-16 overall record and 12-9 Conference USA mark. The team is on a five-game winning streak and swept Charlotte at home last weekend. Offensively, Kevin Youkillie leads the team with a .404 batting average, 12 home runs and 18 stolen bases. Chris Hamblen has driven in a team-high 57 runs and also has hit 11 home runs. As a team, the Bearcats are carrying a .309 BA with 64 home runs and 366 RBI. On the mound, Curtis Moak (6-2) has a team best six wins. Joey List leads UC with four saves. As a staff, the team has a combined 5.18 earned run average.
OSU vs. Cincinnati All-Time
The Buckeyes and Bearcats played their first game in 1891. Cincinnati won that game, 19-6. Since that contest, OSU has taken a 62-20-2 edge in the all-time series. The teams last met in 1997 and OSU won the game, 15-2 in Bill Davis Stadium.
Scouting the Hoosiers
Indiana (22-25-1 overall) enters this week in last place in the Big Ten Conference with a 5-14 record. Last weekend, they helped knock Purdue out of first place with a 2-2 series split. Offensively the team is led by Blake St. Clair. He leads the Hoosiers with six home runs and 48 runs batted in. He also is carrying a .353 batting average. Nick Evans has the team’s highest BA at .379. As a group, the Hoosiers have a .296 BA with 29 home runs and 275 RBI. On the mound, Nick Otte leads the team with an 8-3 record. As a staff, Indiana has a 5.36 earned run average. Bob Morgan is the head coach. He is in his 26th year at the helm.
OSU vs. Indiana All-Time
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 132-92-0. The teams first played in 1897 with the Buckeyes winning, 24-2. Last year, the Buckeyes took 3-of-4 in Columbus. E.J. Laratta, Greg Prenger and Brandon Steen recorded the wins.
Big Ten Leaders
Entering this week, the Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 46 home runs an 79 stolen bases. The team’s .316 batting average ranks second. On the mound, OSU is pacing the league with a 4.00 earned run average, 34 wins, 12 saves and a league low 106 walks. Mike Harris and Mike Check lead the league in stolen bases with 28 and 25, respectively. Greg Prenger has the second lowest ERA in the league at 2.98. Steve Caravati is tied for the league lead with four triples and Nick Swisher is tops with 45 walks.
The OSU Offense
Mike Harris enters this week with a team-high .365 batting average. Nick Swisher is pacing the team with 12 home runs and Doug Dendinger has driven in an OSU best 44 runs. Harris leads the team with 28 stolen bases and Mike Check is hot on his tail with 25 thefts. As a team, the Buckeyes are batting .316 with 46 home runs and 289 runs batted in.
The OSU Pitchers
E.J Laratta (7-2) leads the OSU staff with seven wins. Kevin Goodrum has struck out a team best 51 batters. Greg Prenger leads the starting pitchers with a 2.98 earned run average. Cory Cox leads the team with nine saves. As a staff, OSU is carrying a 4.00 ERA and opponents are carrying a .283 BA.
Big Ten Dominance
With the 4-0 sweep over Minnesota, the Buckeyes now have won or tied 84-of-96 Big Ten series in the 14-year tenure of head coach Bob Todd. The team won 4-of-5 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 94-29 overall record at home.
The Slimmest of Margins
This season, the Buckeyes are 7-2 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.
This is My House
Freshman Steve Caravati quickly has made Bill Davis Stadium his favorite ballpark to play in. In 16 games (seven starts), the outfielder is batting .517 (15-for-29) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 15 runs batted in. His home slugging percentage is an astounding .931 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.
Walk This Way
The combination of a selective eye at the plate and respect from opposing pitchers has given Nick Swisher an amazing 45 walks in 42 games. Not only does he lead the Big Ten Conference in this category, he also is tied for fourth on the OSU single season record list for walks. He is well on pace to obliterate the school record of 50 set by Mike Lockwood in 1997.
Name Year Walks 1. Mike Lockwood 1997 50 2. Nick Swisher 2001 45 Greg Mohler 1982 45 3. Chris Williams 1995 44 4. Mike Durant 1991 42 Jason Trott 1999 42
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 week with 89 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.
Cory Cox enters this week with nine saves, tying him for the most in school history. Cox is tied with himself (1999) and Mark Mesewicz (1992) for the single-season high. Last year, he recorded the second most with eight saves.
The Buckeyes already have totaled 79 stolen bases in 45 games this season. Last year, OSU amassed 49 steals in 60 games. The team single-season record is 84 set in 1993.
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.
April 14 against Michigan State, Greg Prenger threw a complete game, six-hit shutout to help lead OSU to a 4-0 win. He went seven innings, did not allow a walk and recorded three strikeouts. Prenger was both efficient and dominant throwing 94 pitches, including 64 for strikes (68 percent) and faced just three batters over the minimum. He also became the first OSU pitcher since E. J. Laratta in 1999 to record two complete-game shutouts in a season (first shutout vs. Harvard on March 24).
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.
A Perfect Spring Break
Faced with nearly every conceivable type of game (doubleheaders, cancelled games, makeup games, night games followed by early morning games), the Buckeyes stood strong and finished their Spring Break trip with a 10-0 mark in Bradenton, Fla. Ohio State posted wins over conference rival Northwestern along with Harvard, Fairleigh-Dickinson and Vermont.
Kennel Club Classic Recap
On, March 2-4, OSU finished the 2001 Kennel Club Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., with a 2-2 record. The Buckeyes opened the tournament with a thrilling, come from behind 10-9 win over Jacksonville. The following day, OSU upset No. 16 Stetson, 13-5. The Buckeyes concluded the tournament with losses to North Florida and Austin Peay.
Mardi Gras Ball Recap
On Feb. 23-25, the Buckeyes opened the 2001 season at the Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette, La. OSU opened the tournament with a 10-5 loss to No. 11 Nebraska. Going into the ninth inning, OSU was down 6-5. But the Huskers broke the game open with four runs. Against No. 25 Wichita State, the two teams played scoreless baseball for the first six innings. In the seventh, both teams scored five runs each and in the bottom of the ninth, the Shockers won the game on a RBI single. Against host school Louisiana-Lafayette, the Buckeyes put together their best game of the weekend. Starting pitcher Greg Prenger gave up just four hits in seven innings of work. Steve Caravati drove in four runs to help lead OSU to the 10-2 win.
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.
Laratta and Swisher Listed
The 2001 Rotary Smith committee has released a preliminary watch list of over 160 Division I college baseball players who are under consideration to become the winner of the 14th annual Rotary Smith Award, which will be handed out in Houston, Texas June 28. Junior pitcher E.J. Laratta and sophomore first baseman Nick Swisher have been named to the preliminary list. To view the complete list, log on to www.smithaward.com.
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 travel to Bloomington, Ind., for a four-game series with the Indiana Hoosiers. On Saturday, the teams open the series with a game at 4 p.m. The doubleheader on Sunday begins at 2 p.m. On Monday, the series finale begins at 4 p.m.