COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team heads to Florida for the third time in four weeks for three games this weekend in Winter Haven. The Buckeyes, 5-3 on the season, take on Illinois State at 1 p.m. Friday, Yale at 9 a.m. Saturday and Army at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Ohio State defeated a veteran Army team that was picked to win the Patriot League and is projected to be an NCAA regional participant, 7-1, last Friday before getting washed out the rest of the weekend in Forest City, N.C.

The Buckeyes received a terrific pitching performance from Drew Rucinski in the win over Army. The senior from Broken Arrow, Okla., allowed just two hits in 8.0 innings and all 24 of his outs were infield outs. And not once did the coaching staff make a visit to the mound. The win improved Rucinski’s record to 2-0 this season and lowered his earned-run average to 2.33.

Ryan Cypret extended his hitting streak to seven games with a second-inning single against Army. … Josh Dezse is staying hot: his three-hit day (plus two runs and two RBI) was the fifth multi-hit game of his young career. He leads the team with a .469 average. … Cypret, Dezse, Brian DeLucia and Matt Streng each have a hit in seven of eight games this year.

The Buckeyes, at 5-3 through the first three weekends of play, have the third-best record in the Big Ten. First-year Ohio State coach Greg Beals and his staff are working with a completely overhauled roster, one that includes 15 newcomers and returned just three everyday starters from last season. So far the Buckeyes are hitting .314 as a team and slugging at a .432 clip – percentages that rank third and fourth in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have scored 54 runs, good for second in the conference. The pitching staff is sporting a 3.82 team ERA and limiting opponents to a batting average of .253. The team’s ERA is fourth in the Big Ten and opposing batting average is second.

Illinois State – Led by second-year head coach Mark Kingston, Illinois State is off to a 7-4 start. Ryan Court leads the Redbirds with a .341 batting average with five doubles and 11 runs scored. Reliever Kenny Long is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched.

Yale – Under the direction of 19th-year head coach John Stuper, Yale is 2-3 on the season with wins over Miami (OH) and Mt. St. Mary’s.

Army – Led by head coach Joe Sottolano, Army is 1-8 on the season with a win over Davidson and a number of close losses, including two one-run decisions to Lamar. Clint Moore leads the Black Knights with a .296 batting average and 10 runs batted in while Chris Rowley has posted a 2.61 ERA with nine strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched.

Josh Dezse led the team offensively in the 7-1 win over Army with three hits in four at-bats, two runs scored and two RBI. He singled in both the first and third innings and scored the first two runs of the game on Matt Streng singles. Then in the seventh inning he broke the game open with a bases-loaded double that gave the Buckeyes a 6-1 lead.

Dezse leads the team in batting (.469), hits (15), RBI (nine) and on-base pct. (.486). He ranks second in the Big Ten in batting and he is Top 5 in RBI and on-base pct. 

Ohio State is coming off a three-win-in-four-games weekend at Port Charlotte, Fla. The team met Western Michigan four times as part of the Snowbird Classic, winning Friday, 4-3, splitting a double header Saturday with a 7-4 loss followed by a 22-6 win, and closing out the series Sunday with a 4-2 victory. Some weekend highlights…

  • The first home runs of the season were hit by Buckeyes in the warm air of South Florida. Four different players hit their first collegiate home run – Josh Dezse, David Corna, Ryan Cypret and Brad Hutton – and Brad Hallberg also homered, the second of his career.
  • Corna’s HR was a grand slam, the first by a Buckeye in two years and part of a six-RBI, three-runs scored day for the junior from Cincinnati and Moeller H.S.
  • Cypret and Hutton hit back-to-back HRs in Game 3, shots that erased a 1-0 deficit and sparked the team to its 4-2 win.
  • Drew Rucinski pitched 7.0 solid innings in Game 1 to lift the Buckeyes to that win.
  • The 22 runs in Game 3 included four-runs-scored games from Hallberg and Cypret, and multi-RBIs from Corna (6), Hallberg (3), Dezse (3) and Tyler Engle, Matt Streng, Cypret and Greg Solomon with two apiece.
  • Four relievers – Theron Minium, David Fathalikhani, Andrew Armstrong and Dezse did not allow a run and walked just one in 6.1 innings in the series-clinching, 4-2 Game 4 win.
  • The relief pitching corps, for the weekend, sported a 1.98 earned run average in 13.2 innings pitched with nine strikeouts, four walks and three saves. Six of the seven relievers did not allow a run.

Ohio State completed play at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge the opening weekend of the season and went 1-2, including an 8-7 win in 11 innings over a strong St. John’s team that had led at one point, 7-1, and already owned convincing wins over Minnesota and Michigan in the tournament. It was the first win of the Greg Beals coaching era at Ohio State. Ohio State played well in a 2-0 Game 2 loss to No. 20 Louisville and let go of a 5-0 lead in Game 1 vs. Cincinnati only to lose, 11-5.

BBCOR UPDATE               
Right now, the new BBCOR bat standards haven’t affected Ohio State. The team has five home runs through eight games…the same number the team hit last year through eight games. Only difference: Ohio State has five bombs by five different players this year; last year it was five by three players.

David Fathalikhani has been a most pleasant surprise out of the bullpen with a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 IP with 6 Ks and 1 walk … The team has lost Jared Strayer for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken bone … Josh Dezse leads the team with a .469 avg. and he also has a 1.59 ERA in four closing opportunities with two saves … Starters Drew Rucinski and Dean Wolosiansky have opened with season with 2.33 and 3.38 ERAs, respectively … 9 different Buckeyes have made their first Ohio State starts so far this year and another three have made their first collegiate appearance in a game … INF starters Brad Hallberg, Ryan Cypret, Tyler Engle and Matt Streng have combined for 19 walks and only five strikeouts … The Buckeyes play their first 21 games on the road.

The Buckeyes travel to California for their spring break trip March 18-26. Ohio State plays three games against California, two against Fresno State and three against Cal State Bakersfield.