Feb. 21, 2007

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OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Feb. 23-25, 2007
New York Yankees Player Development Complex
3102 N. Himes Ave.
Tampa, Fla.

Fri., Feb. 23 vs. James Madison, 1 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 24 vs. Kansas State (DH), 1 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 25 vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.

JM: 36 Dan DeLucia (LHP)
KS1: 19 Cory Luebke (LHP)
KS2: 25 Josh Barrera (LHP)
SH: 4 J.B. Shuck (LHP)

The Ohio State baseball team finally opens its season this weekend when it plays host to the Buckeye Baseball Classic at the New York Yankees Player Development Complex in Tampa, Fla. The Buckeyes will play host to James Madison, Kansas State and Seton Hall Friday through Sunday. Each team will play four games, including one doubleheader.

Ohio State opens against James Madison Friday at 1 p.m. before squaring off against Seton Hall in a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. The Buckeyes conclude the weekend against Seton Hall Sunday at 1 p.m. None of the games will be available on the radio or Internet and none of the games will offer GameTracker.

All games, including a pair of doubleheaders, will be played at 1 p.m. at the four-field player development complex. While Ohio State and James Madison are playing at 1 p.m. Friday, Kansas State and Seton Hall will be battling on an adjacent field. Opposite Ohio State and Kansas State in doubleheader action Saturday will be James Madison and Seton Hall. Then Sunday when the Buckeyes are playing Seton Hall, James Madison and Kansas State will duel.

The facility is located at 3102 N. Himes Ave. in Tampa, just south of Raymond James Stadium (home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and across the street from Legends Field (the spring training venue for MLB’s New York Yankees). Parking and admission to the Buckeye Classic is free. Rest rooms will be available, but concessions will not be. Fans also are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to supplement limited bleacher seating.

For more information about the Classic, please visit the baseball page at

Buckeye Classic Schedule
Friday, Feb. 23
Ohio State vs. James Madison, 1 p.m.
Kansas State vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 24
Ohio State vs. Kansas State (DH), 1 p.m.
James Madison vs. Seton Hall (DH), 1 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 25
Ohio State vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.
James Madison vs. Kansas State, 1 p.m.

Ohio State head coach Bob Todd has a positive outlook for the 2007 season. Of course, so does every other coach around the country as his team heads toward its season opener, but Todd thinks his optimism has merit.

“We are entering the 2007 season with a lot of optimism,” Todd, the 20th-year Buckeye head coach, said. “We have quite a few returning players and more importantly, for the first time since I have been at Ohio State, we have all four of our starting pitchers back. It is highly unusual that you have your complete starting rotation intact.”

Those four weekend starters, who include Dan DeLucia, Cory Luebke, Jake Hale and J.B. Shuck, all of whom return from a pitching staff that led the Big Ten in earned run average (3.46).

DeLucia was the Buckeyes’ first 10-game winner since 1999 and Shuck, the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, won eight games. Luebke returned to school after being drafted last June by the Texas Rangers as a draft-eligible sophomore and Hale showed promise last year as a freshman.

The Buckeyes have several key position players returning, as well. Catcher Eric Fryer, first baseman Justin Miller, second baseman Jason Zoeller, center fielder Matt Angle all return, as does Jacob Howell, who split time in left field last year with Shuck. DeLucia, Angle and Zoeller all were first-team All-Big Ten picks last season and Fryer, Shuck, Howell and Luebke also were among the nine total Buckeyes to earn all-conference mention in 2006.

“I think this team overall has good team speed, which should not only help us on the base paths, but should result in a better team defensively,” Todd, who has guided the Buckeyes to six Big Ten regular season and seven tournament titles, said. “The biggest question marks are going to be the left side of the infield, where we lost Ronnie Bourquin at third and Jedidiah Stephen at short. Not only are those two positions valuable, but the quality of player we lost is going to be tough to replace.”

Bourquin, the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year, was selected in the second round of the draft by the Detroit Tigers while Stephen, a second-team All-Big Ten pick, went in the eighth round to the Baltimore Orioles.

The Buckeyes led the league in team batting average (.332) in their third-place finishes during the regular season and conference tournament. However, Bourquin and Stephen accounted for 17 of the team’s modest 28 home runs and made up 25 percent of the team’s hits.

Of the six position players who return, five batted .325 or better. In fact, Angle, a first-team All-Big Ten pick last year, was second on the team with a .369 average and Fryer, a second-team all-conference selection, was just behind him with a .368 batting average. Those two combined for 157 hits, just eight less than the combined total of Bourquin and Stephen.

Todd thinks the Buckeyes have the tools they need to battle for a Big Ten title and a regional berth, especially with their pitching staff. If they can fill in the left side of their infield, the Buckeyes could be looking at an seventh Big Ten title and 12th NCAA tournament appearance under Todd, who became coach at Ohio State in 1988.

The Dukes were scheduled to play four games before meeting Ohio State in Tampa, but they, too, have been plagued by snow and cold weather. James Madison was suppose to host Fordham in a three-game series last weekend and George Washington on Wednesday. Instead, the Dukes were forced to cancel the series and reschedule with George Washington.

James Madison finished 38-21 in 2006 and won the Colonial Athletic Association with a 22-8 record. The team batted .324 and was led by All-American outfielder Kellen Kulbacki. Collegiate Baseball’s co-national player of the year led the country with 24 home runs and batted .464. He finished with 90 hits, which also included 17 doubles and a pair of triples for a slugging percentage of .943. On the hill, the Dukes managed a 4.56 ERA and held opponents to a .260 batting average. Ryan Reid was 10-4 with a 3.43 ERA and 43 strikeouts. Kurt Houck, who is slated for the start against the Buckeyes Friday, was -22 with a 3.55 ERA 14 games. The right-hander made six starts and pitched 50.2 innings with 29 strikeouts.

The Dukes are coached by Joe “Spanky” McFarland (Hillsdale, 1976), who is 281-234-2 in his 10th season at James Madison. The native of New Carlisle, Ohio, is 457-458-3 in his 18th season as a college head coach after spending his first seven seasons at Northern Illinois.

This will be the first meeting for Ohio State against James Madison, but the fifth game for the Buckeyes against a team in the Colonial Athletic Association. Ohio State is 2-2 in the previous four meetings. Ohio State is 1-0 vs. Northeastern, 1-1 vs. UNC-Wilmington and 0-1 vs. Delaware, which upset the Buckeyes, 5-4, in the 2001 NCAA Columbus Regional. Bob Todd is 0-1 vs. James Madison having lost 10-8 in his final year at Kent State in 1987.

Buckeyes Dan DeLucia and Matt Angle played with James Madison All-American outfielder Kellen Kulbacki with the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape Cod League last summer. Ohio State first baseman Justin Miller is from Dayton, Va., and is a graduate of Turner Ashby High School just outside of Harrisonburg. Also, Ohio State volunteer assistant coach Eric Parker, a 1992 graduate of Harrisonburg High School, was a pitcher for the Dukes in 1996 and 1997 after transferring from the University of Virginia.

The Wildcats are 3-1 after taking two games from Penn State and splitting with Centenary last weekend in Shreveport, La. Kansas State won its first three games before dropping the finale of its opening weekend of the season. The Wildcats beat Penn State 5-0 and 4-1 and claimed a 4-1 win vs. Centenary before dropping a 4-1 decision to the Gents. Eddie Vasquez and Derek Bunker each had five hits to lead the Wildcats.

Last year, Kansas State finished 31-20-2 overall and was 8-17-2 in the Big 12 after sweeping No. 22 Baylor to end the season. That team batted .314 and hit 38 home runs, but the 2007 version is having to make up for the departures of four of its Top 5 batters. Drew Biery returns after batting .342 last year.

The pitching staff combined for a 3.94 ERA a season ago and five of the Top 6 pitchers (by ERA) return, including seven-game winners Chase Bayuk and Brad Hutt. Bayuk, who is slated to start the first game of the doubleheader vs. Ohio State Saturday, was 7-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 14 games and 71.2 innings. Ben Hornbeck is penciled in as the starter in the nightcap. He is making the transition from reliever to starter this year after going 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA and one save in 18 appearances (29.0 innings) in 2007.

Brad Hill (Emporia State, 1985) has guided Kansas State to an 90-76-2 record in his four seasons in Manhattan. He boasts a career record of 508-167-2 in a 13-year career.

This will be the third meeting between Ohio State and Kansas State. The teams have split the previous two meetings with the Wildcats winning the last matchup 12-6 at the Minute Maid College Classic in Houston in 2004. Ohio State’s win was an 8-4 victory in Homestead, Fla., in 2004.

Seton Hall is 0-3 this year after getting swept at North Carolina, the runnerup at the 2006 College World Series, last weekend. The No. 4 Tar Heels won by scores of 11-0, 3-2 and 13-2. The Pirates hit just .144 against UNC. Dan McDonald led the team with four hits while Dan Lopez and Tim McCann each drove in two RBI. Lopez drove in both runs with a home run in the series finale.

Seton Hall used 12 different pitchers in Chapel Hill with Young Dan Merklinger and Sean Black getting the starts. Against Ohio State on Sunday, the Pirates have indicated they will go with right-hander Keith Cantwell, who pitched 1.1 innings of relief at North Carolina. He allowed five runs on five hits and walked two. Last year, Cantwell was 1-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.

The Pirates finished 17-34 overall and 7-20 to wind up 12th in the Big East in 2006. The team batted .269 and the pitching staff had a 5.69 ERA and a .297 opponent batting average.

Rob Sheppard (Seton Hall, 1992) is 51-102-1 in his fourth season in South Orange, N.J. and as a college head coach.

The Buckeyes and Pirates have met five times previously with Seton Hall holding a 3-2 edge over Ohio State in the series. The Buckeyes won the first meeting 8-4 in 1974 and snapped a three-game skid in the series with an 8-5 triumph in Lakeland, Fla., in 1995. Ohio State is 128-69-2 all-time against the 12 current teams in the Big East. The Buckeyes, which will be meeting a team in the Big East for the 200th time against Seton Hall, have played all but Villanova and last met a team from the conference last season in Columbus when Pittsburgh won a rain-shortened contest for its first win over Ohio State in 16 tries. The Buckeyes also will play Big East teams Georgetown and Connecticut in 2007.

First and second base appear to be set with Justin Miller and Jason Zoeller returning. Miller settled into the starting job at first base last year as a true freshman and made 30 starts there, including the final 21 games of the season. The sophomore, was flawless defensively in 269 chances. He batted .280 with 37 hits and 12 RBI. Shuck, who made 15 starts at first base last year, and fifth-year senior Kris Moorman also could figure into the mix at the position, as well.

Zoeller, a senior, was the first-team All-Big Ten second baseman in 2006. In his second year as the starter, he batted .337 overall and .354 in league games, finishing with 60 hits, including 13 doubles, four triples and five home runs. Junior Tony Kennedy, who has backed up Zoeller at second for two years, again will be the backup at second, but this year could challenge for the open spot at third base. Junior Chris Macke, who backed up Ronnie Bourquin each of the last two years, also returns. Miller and Moorman also could contend there, as could Brian DeLucia, Dan’s younger brother and one of the 14 newcomers on this year’s Buckeye squad.

Zoeller could slide over to shortstop with Kennedy in the game at second, but the Buckeyes likely will look to freshman Cory Rupert, the 2006 Ohio Division I Player of the Year, to fill the void left by Stephen at short.

“Freshman Cory Rupert played sound defense in the fall and we obviously feel like he has earned some playing time, but whether he is able to win the starting job has yet to be seen,” Bob Todd, who has guided the Buckeyes to 40 or more wins 10 times in his career, said.

Backing up the infield will be redshirt freshmen Matt Curran and Ben Toussant and freshmen Cory Kovanda and Matt Streng.

The outfield could be one of the best during Bob Todd’s tenure. Matt Angle, a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection and a Cape Cod League all-star last summer, returns in center field as do Jacob Howell and J.B. Shuck, who split time in left field last year while Howell battled a hamstring injury. Howell, a two-time all-conference selection, and Shuck both have been freshmen All-Americans. Ohio State outfielders made 15 assists in 2006 led by Angle’s six. The Buckeyes also have a hole to fill in right field.

Angle, who batted .396 in Big Ten games, had 79 hits, the fourth highest total in the league last year. He led the conference with 63 runs scored and stole 25 of 29 bases. Howell batted .402 in 35 games, while Shuck batted .325 in the 40 games he picked up a bat.

“I still feel like our outfield is going to be very stable,” Todd, who has never had a losing season with the Buckeyes, said. “Matt Angle in center certainly anchors it. We gave J.B. Shuck some playing time in the outfield last year and we still have Jacob Howell. There has been some really good competition from Jonathan Zizzo and red-shirt freshman Zach Hurley. Both have made a lot of progress.”

Zizzo saw action in 28 games with 18 starts last year, including eight in the outfield. Hurley spent a lot of time in the batting cage while redshirting last season.

“Jonathan is trying to get some playing time in what I think is a very talented outfield. He did a good job for us last year at key times offensively,” Todd said. “And Zach Hurley is one of the hardest workers on the team. He has shown a lot of potential to be productive offensively.”

Red-shirt sophomore Michael Arp, red-shirt freshman Chris Griffin as well as freshmen Brad Brookbank and Ryan Dew will try to challenge for outfield spots.

Eric Fryer stepped out from behind the plate and over to first base early in the year last year until the Buckeyes could find a more permanent solution at first base. Of his 57 starts in 2006, 43 were behind the plate, where he is most comfortable. He was third on the team with a .368 batting average and 78 hits, behind Ronnie Bourquin and Matt Angle, and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. Fryer, like Angle, Dan DeLucia and Luebke, gained valuable experience last summer in the Cape Cod League. He finished with a .250 batting average, 23 hits and nine RBI.

“Eric Fryer is a tremendous worker and leader,” Bob Todd said. “He is definitely one of the best athletes on the team. He does a very good job handling the pitching staff and will hit in the middle of our lineup.”

The strength of this team is its starting pitching. Dan DeLucia, Cory Luebke, Jake Hale and J.B. Shuck accounted for 29 of the team’s 37 wins last year, led by DeLucia. He was 10-2 as the team’s Friday night starter, was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree and is a preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He led the Big Ten in wins and innings pitched (108.0) and was ninth in the league with a 3.25 ERA.

“We are very comfortable with the leadership we are getting from Dan DeLucia,” Bob Todd, whose pitching staff led the Big Ten in ERA last season for the sixth time in his career, said. “He pitched No. 1 for us last year, which is very difficult to pitch the opening game of a series. I thought he handled it well. He was excellent on Friday night with his poise and competitiveness.

“We’re happy that we have Cory Luebke back, who is very talented and has a world of potential. Last year, he was drafted in the 22nd round by the Texas Rangers and realized what was best for him was to come back to school. Obviously, we are happy and agree with that decision.”

Luebke was 7-6 and managed a 3.38 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 85.1 innings and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors. He pitched seven complete games, albeit during doubleheaders.

The other two spots in the rotation belong to sophomores Hale and Shuck. Hale also was used in the seven-inning doubleheader games and tossed three complete games. He finished 4-5 with a 3.38 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 64.0 innings. Shuck led the Buckeyes with a 2.51 ERA and was 8-5 as the team’s No. 4 starter. Shuck, a second-team all-Big Ten selection, won five games before his first loss and won his first two conference games.

“I see our starting pitching with some talent and a lot of potential,” Todd said. “But our bullpen needs to be a whole lot better than it was last year if we are going to be successful. As I look back at last year’s team, maybe the one Achilles’ heel might have been middle relief. We have good competition on our staff.”

Sophomore left-hander Josh Barrera and redshirt freshmen lefthanders Eric Best and Brad Hays, along with freshmen Josh Edgin and Theron Minium, will be the team’s middle relievers in 2007. Barrera was 3-1 with a 4.42 ERA in 14 appearances last year as a rookie. After that, Todd will turn to closers Trey Fausnaugh and Rory Meister. Fausnaugh made 15 appearances, while Meister made six saves in 29 appearances.

“They are another year older and more experienced and we expect them to improve on last year’s performances,” Todd said.

Ohio State elected four captains following the conclusion of the fall season in October. The team re-elected seniors Dan DeLucia and Jacob Howell, who served as captains in 2006. They also elected juniors Matt Angle and Eric Fryer. Ryan Dew and Brian DeLucia were elected freshmen captains.

Ohio State welcomed 14 new faces in the fall and all but one are freshmen. Right-handed pitcher Darren Sizemore, a sophomore from Hamilton, Ohio (Ross), transferred from Georgetown University. He joined freshmen pitchers Josh Edgin, Theron Minium, Eric Shinn, Jared Strayer and Dean Wolosiansky. The group also included two catchers: Nathan Grove and D.J. Hanlin; four infielders: Brian DeLucia, Cory Kovanda, Cory Rupert and Matt Streng; and two outfielders: Brad Brookbank and Ryan Dew.

Preseason publications took note of Ohio State. Of the four major polls, the Buckeyes received mention by two. Collegiate Baseball ranked Bob Todd’s 20th Buckeye team 40th in its preseason Top 40 poll, while Baseball America ranked Ohio State 47th in its preseason Top 50 poll. Ohio State received votes in the Top 35 poll by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and in the USA Today/ESPN coaches Top 25 poll. Many of the services pick Ohio State to finish first or second in the Big Ten and to earn a regional bid. ranked the Buckeyes 30th in its preseason Top 100.

Ohio State is not ranked in any of the current national polls, but is still receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. Collegiate Baseball ranked 40 in its preseason poll, while the NCBWA announced a Top 35 poll. Each of those polls rank 30 teams during the season. Baseball America ranked 50 teams and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll ranked 25 teams in their preseason polls, but only rank 25 teams during the season.

Dan DeLucia was named a third-team preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Last year, DeLucia was Ohio State’s first 10-game winner since 1999 and led the Big Ten with his 10-2 record and 108 innings pitched. The first-team All-Big Ten selection managed a 3.25 earned run average and limited opposing batters to a .255 average. DeLucia maintains a 19-10 career record and his 3.80 career ERA is the 13th best in school history.

DeLucia was joined by teammate J.B. Shuck on the preseason watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, the College Baseball Foundation’s player of the year award. Shuck was Ohio State’s ninth player to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors last year when he went 8-5 and managed a team-best 2.51 ERA in 15 appearances. His eight victories equaled the second best total by any league pitcher and his ERA was the fourth best. The pair also appears on the preseason watch list for the Roger Clemens Award, which goes to the college baseball pitcher of the year.

Also getting preseason recognition is right-handed reliever Rory Meister, who appears on the 35-member early season watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award. The award, created in 2005, is given annually to the top closer in Division I college baseball.Meister, a junior from Mansfield, Ohio, made 29 appearances last year for the Buckeyes, all in relief. Meister, who also appeared on the preseason watch list in 2006, finished 0-1 with six saves and a 3.82 ERA in 33.0 innings. Nominations were made by each school’s baseball sports information contact. A mid-season release, including the national saves leaders, will be updated during the week of April 16. Five finalists will be announced May 30 and the third annual winner will be announced June 6.

Ohio State is 10-9 in season openers under head coach Bob Todd after suffering a 6-2 loss to Wake Forest last year at the Pepsi Baseball Classic at the University of Florida. In its 124th year of baseball, the Buckeyes are 75-46-2 (.618) in season openers.

When Ohio State takes to the field against James Madison Friday in the season opener, it will mark the first time the Buckeyes have been outside since mid-October when the team concluded fall practice. Columbus experienced mild temperatures and very little snow until the middle of January, but since the start of practice Jan. 29, the Buckeyes have had to work inside thanks to below average temperatures and a little more than 13 inches of snow since Feb. 1. To say Ohio State is making the most of its two indoor facilities – the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the indoor hitting complex at Bill Davis Stadium – is a huge understatement. In the past few years, Ohio State has been able to work outside on the turf fields, but the weather has yet to cooperate.

Ohio State will play its first 17 games in the Sunshine State, though will play only one team from Florida – the North Florida Ospreys – during that span. The Buckeyes’ “South Beach diet” will feature four games against the Ivy League, three games against the Big East and a pair of games against the Patriot League. Ohio State also will meet teams from the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Colonial Athletic, Mid-American and Ohio Valley conferences and a non-conference game vs. league-rival Northwestern, the only Big Ten schools not on the Buckeyes’ league slate this year. Ohio State players and coaches should have a bronze glow when it returns to Columbus for its home opener vs. Toledo, March 28. Ohio State played 16 games in Florida to start the 2006 season.

Now in his 20th season at Ohio State, Bob Todd is entering his 24th season as a college head coach, including four years at Kent State. Entering the year, he owns a career record of 887-467-2 for a win percentage of .655. That win percentage is the best among active coaches in the Big Ten (minimum five years) and ranks 20th nationally. He trails Minnesota’s John Anderson in total victories by only 18. Anderson, now in his 26th season, has won 905 games. Todd’s 887 victories rank 47th in NCAA Division I history.

Todd is the winningest coach in Ohio State annals and has never had a losing season. His 40 wins in 2005 marked the 10th time he has won at least 40 games. He has won at least 35 games 16 straight seasons and has won 50 games twice including in 1991 when the Buckeyes won a school record 52 games. Todd coached his first game at Ohio State in 1988, a 16-2 win over Louisville on Feb. 27. Every recruit who has played at least four years at Ohio State has been a part of a championship team, either as part of six regular-season championships or as part of seven Big Ten tournament championships.

Ohio State head coach Bob Todd is approaching a couple of milestones. In his 24th season as a head coach and in his 20th as coach of the Buckeyes, Todd needs 13 wins to wins for his 900th career victory. He enters the season with an 887-467-2 record in 23 years. He needs to 37 victories to earn his 800th win at Ohio State.

1 – March 23, 1984 vs. Mercer (18-4)
100 – March 25, 1987 vs. UNC-Wilm. (12-10)
200 – April 1, 1990 vs. Wisconsin (7-4)
300 – April 22, 1992 vs. Ohio (16-2)
400 – May 14, 1994 vs. Purdue (8-7)
500 – March 30, 1997 at Michigan St. (4-0)
600 – May 5, 1999 vs. Oakland (11-9)
700 – March 17, 2002 vs. Detroit (7-2)
800 – May 8, 2004 vs. Penn State (3-1)

1 – Feb. 27, 1988 vs. Louisville (16-2)
100 – Feb. 22, 1991 vs. Dartmouth (14-7)
200 – March 28, 1993 vs. Cleveland St. (9-5)
300 – April 13, 1995 at Wright State (16-6)
400 – May 16, 1997 at Michigan (9-2)
*480 – May 8, 1999 vs. Michigan St. (11-1)
500 – March 22, 2000 vs. Florida Int’l (2-0)
600 – May 19, 2002 vs. Minnesota (9-2)
700 – April 9, 2005 vs. Purdue (6-4)
*became the winningest coach in Ohio State history

1 – April 3, 1988 vs. Illinois (14-6)
100 – May 1, 1993 vs. Michigan (3-2)
200 – May 10, 1998 vs. Michigan State (5-4)
300 – April 2, 2004 vs. Illinois (5-1)

Ohio State is a program that measures success by conference championships and participation in the NCAA tournament. In 2006, the Buckeyes came up short in both areas, despite winning at least 35 games for the 16th consecutive season. The Scarlet and Gray finished 37-21 overall and 19-12 in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes had the best team batting average (.332) and team ERA (3.46) in the Big Ten. They also were the best in conference games, with a .338 average. Ronnie Bourquin, the Big Ten Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, led the conference with his .416 batting average. The OSU third baseman also led the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.612), on-base percentage (.492), hits (91), RBI (66) and total bases (134). Six Buckeye starters finished with batting averages better than the team average. Centerfielder Matt Angle was second on the team with a .369 average. He led the team with 63 runs scored and was second on the team with 79 hits. Catcher Eric Fryer had a .368 batting average and also was third on the team with 78 hits and second on the team with 52 RBI. Shortstop Jedidiah Stephen batted .343 and had 74 hits. He led the team with 19 doubles and nine home runs. Second baseman Jason Zoeller batted .337 and left fielder Jacob Howell, though he did not meet the stat minimum’s at 2.5 at bats per game, averaged .402.

Ohio State’s 657 hits were the sixth most in a season, while its 25 triples tied the school record set in 1991. The .332 batting average equaled the fifth best season average in school history. It was the best since the Buckeyes batted .333 in 1998. The 1994 team had a .354 average to set the record.

On the mound, the Buckeyes were the only team in the Big Ten with an earned run average of less than 4.00. At 3.46, it was the team’s lowest ERA since 1970 when that team managed a 2.57 ERA. All four starters had an ERA of less than 4.00, led by J.B. Shuck, who had a 2.51 ERA. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, who also had a .325 batting average in 40 games in the field, was 8-5 with 57 strikeouts in 79.0 innings. Ohio State had its first 10-game winner since 1999 in Dan DeLucia, who finished 10-2 to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. DeLucia led the team with 69 strikeouts to go with a 3.25 ERA in 108.0 innings.

Cory Luebke was 7-6 with a 3.38 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 85.1 innings, while Jake Hale was 4-5 with a 3.38 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 64.0 innings. Closer Rory Meister saved six games in his 29 appearances, while reliever Trey Fausnaugh made 15 appearances in 2006 to up his career outings to 71, the third highest total in school history.

Three Ohio State players were selected in the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last June. Third baseman Ronnie Bourquin, the Big Ten Player of the Year, was the second-round pick of the Detroit Tigers, while shortstop Jedidiah Stephen was picked in the eighth round by the Baltimore Orioles. On the second day of the draft, the Texas Rangers selected 21-year-old left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke, a draft-eligible sophomore, though he elected to return to Ohio State for his junior year.

Ohio State baseball again led the Big Ten in attendance in 2006 by welcoming an average of 2,260 in 18 home dates at Bill Davis Stadium, according to NCAA attendance figures. That average ranked 26th in the nation. The Buckeyes welcomed a total of 40,667 fans to Columbus last season which was the 41st best overall figure in the NCAA. Only on other Big Ten team ranked in the Top 50 either in total or average attendance. Minnesota averaged 1,189 to rank 49th.

The Buckeyes averaged more per date than many traditional baseball powers, including both Oregon State (1,643) and North Carolina (1,290), which played for the national championship in 2006. Ohio State drew 8,200 for its home series vs. Purdue and topped it for the final Big Ten series vs. Penn State when 8,327 fans visited Bill Davis Stadium. The season-high attendance figure was 4,016 against Cleveland State, which was the annual Columbus Public Schools Baseball Day.

Bob Todd RADIO SHOW ON 1460 AM
Tune in to WBNS-AM 1460 The Fan this spring for coach Bob Todd’s weekly radio show, hosted by Skip Mosic. The show will run for 10 weeks beginning Monday, March 19 with the final program broadcast on Tuesday, May 22. The nights of the show will vary this year because of station conflicts with broadcasts of either Columbus Blue Jackets hockey or Cleveland Indians baseball. Four shows will be broadcast each on Monday and Tuesday with two shows on Thursday. The 30-minute show will begin at 8 p.m. the first week before moving to 7 p.m. the final nine weeks of the show.

Bob Todd RADIO SHOW SCHEDULE Monday, March 19 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 7 p.m. Monday, April 2 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 7 p.m. Monday, April 30 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 7 p.m. Monday, May 14 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 7 p.m. Schedule Subject to change

After playing four games at the Buckeye Classic in Tampa, Ohio State will head back to Columbus for classes Monday through Thursday before getting back on airplane to return to the Tampa area. Next weekend, the Buckeyes will be in Clearwater to face Georgetown, Duquesne and Lehigh at Jack Russell Stadium, the former spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Ohio State will play 17 games in Florida before its home opener at Bill Davis Stadium March 28 vs. Toledo.