Feb. 13, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team opens its 130th season when it travels to Sarasota, Fla., for three games beginning Friday. The Buckeyes take on Mercer at 6 p.m. Friday, Notre Dame at 6 p.m. Saturday and St. John’s at 10 a.m. Sunday. All three games will be played at Ed Smith Stadium.

The 2013 Buckeyes return 19 letterwinners from a season ago, including eight starting position players and 11 pitchers. First team All-Big Ten pitcher Jaron Long is back along with the Buckeyes’ top hitter in 2012, Brad Hallberg (.311 avg., 15 2B, 2 HR).

MU: RHP Jaron Long (6-2, 2.66 ERA in ‘12)
 vs. RHP Brandon Barker (5-5, 3.47)
ND: LHP Brian King (5-5, 4.45)
 vs. RHP Adam Norton (5-5, 4.32)
SJU: RHP Brad Goldberg (-)
  vs. RHP Ryan McCormick (-)

Mercer posted a 38-21 record last season before falling in the Atlantic Sun championship game. The Bears return leading hitter Nick Backlund (.381, 16 2B, 16 HR, 58 RBI) and left-hander David Randall (4-4, 2.51, 76 K).

The teams have split the two games in the all-time series, both coming in 1978 in Macon, Ga.

Notre Dame went 31-27 in 2012 before losing in a Big East tournament semifinal. The Irish return first baseman Trey Manicini (.317, 10 2B, 12 HR, 45 RBI) and right-hander Sean Fitzgerald (7-3, 3.82, 57 K).

Ohio State trails the all-time series, 26-20, but has won the last two meetings in 2009 and 2010.

St. John’s finished last season 40-23 and ranked 15th nationally. The Red Storm swept the Chapel Hill Regional before falling to Arizona in a Super Regional. Third baseman Sean O’Hare (.341, 15 2B, 3 HR, 43 RBI) is back along with left-hander Sean Hagan (8-3. 2.90, 68 K).

Ohio State holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series, including an 8-7 win in 2011.

Josh Dezse will sit out at least the first two months of the 2013 season with a stress reaction in his lower back, head coach Greg Beals announced Feb. 11.

Dezse finished second on the team with a .306 batting average and five home runs to go along with nine doubles, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored a season ago. The Powell, Ohio, native also made 24 appearances on the mound, going 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA and tied for third in the Big Ten with seven saves as he allowed opponents to hit a paltry .188.

Ohio State plays its first 15 games on the road in 2013, opening the season against Mercer Feb. 15 before taking on Notre Dame Feb. 16 and 2012 NCAA Super Regional team St. John’s Feb. 17 in Sarasota, Fla. The Buckeyes then travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., the following weekend for a pair of games against South Dakota St. and Mount St. Mary. A trip to Deland, Fla., for games against Connecticut, Stetson and Central Michigan March 1-3 opens the second month of the season before the Buckeyes head to South Carolina March 8-12. Ohio State will play two road contests at Coastal Carolina and one at Charleston Southern along with games against Harvard and Ball State at Field.

Ohio State was selected fourth in the Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll, the conference office announced Feb. 12. In addition, Josh Dezse, Brad Goldberg and Jaron Long have been named players to watch.

Indiana enters the season as the conference favorite followed by Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois.

Seniors Ryan Cypret, David Fathalikhani and Brett McKinney have been named captains of the 2013 Ohio State baseball team, head coach Greg Beals announced Nov. 8.

“These three guys were voted on by their teammates and I couldn’t agree more,” Beals said. “They all three represent Buckeye Nation the right way and will help lead this team on a championship mission this spring.”             

Cypret, a second baseman from Powell, Ohio, has appeared in 138 career games, batting .275 with 21 doubles and five home runs. Cypret has scored 93 runs and driven in 70 more.

Fathalikhani, from Vienna, Va., has made 57 appearances out of the bullpen over the last two seasons after making the transition to the mound from catcher. The right-hander has gone 3-3 with a 3.46 earned-run average.

McKinney, from Hamilton, Ohio, has made 51 career appearances, starting 33 contests. The right-hander has picked up 11 wins while striking out 143 over 194.2 career innings.

– Ohio State returns position players that accounted for 87 percent of the Buckeye starts and pitchers that tossed over 80 percent of the innings last season will be back on the mound for Ohio State in 2013.
– The Buckeyes will play 27 home games at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium in 2013. Ohio State takes on seven NCAA tournament teams from last season, including nine home games against those opponents.
– Former Buckeye John Kuchno was drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates along with current freshman Jake Post (29th round, Pirates) and Ohio State signee Tyler Hollick (14th round, Giants).
– Right-hander Jaron Long garnered first team All-Big Ten honors last season after going 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 101.1 innings pitched.
Josh Dezse tied an Ohio State single-game record with three home runs against Georgia Tech Feb. 24 of last season. The feat was last accomplished by Chad Ehrnsberger on May 3, 1998 against Indiana. Dezse gave the Buckeyes the early lead in the top of the second, added a mammoth shot to left in the sixth and tied the record with one to right field in the seventh.
– The Buckeyes were off and running a season ago, going 86-of-114 in stolen bases last season. The 86 swipes were the second-most in program history and the most in the Big Ten a season ago.
– Ohio State earned wins on the road against No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 25 Oklahoma State and at home against No. 24 Purdue last season.

Head coach Greg Beals is the 11th head coach in Ohio State history and only the fourth in the last 60 years. He has a 303-256 career record and is in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach.

Ohio State is 263-130 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .670 winning percentage. Ohio State is 150-82 vs. the Big Ten Conference at home.

Ohio State travels to Port Charlotte, Fla., Feb. 22-24 for the Snowbird Classic. The Buckeyes will play a pair of games against South Dakota St. and two more against Mount St. Mary’s.