Oct. 3, 2002
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Scarlet & Gray World Series
Game One – Mon., Oct. 7 at 3 p.m.
Game Two – Tues., Oct. 8 at 3 p.m.
Game Three – Wed., Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m.
Game Four* – Thurs., Oct. 10 at 3 p.m.
Game Five* – Fri., Oct. 11 at 3 p.m.
* if necessary
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four weeks of fall baseball practice culminates next week with the Scarlet and Gray World Series, a best-of-five intrasquad showdown, where the biggest thing on the line is pride.
“This is our biggest event of the fall season,” head coach Bob Todd said. “We match up our better hitters against our better pitchers. This way, we as a coaching staff can get a true evaluation for their abilities. With a good showing, players can win or lose a starting job.”
What is at stake? Well… steak. The winning team gets a catered meal of steak, chicken, ribs and potatoes. The meal is served on nice plates with silverware and the players are served in a pleasing atmosphere. The losing team gets to share a pot of beans and hot dogs with plastic plates and utensils and watch the victorious team enjoy the spoils of winning.
“Our players have a lot of pride,” Todd said. “Nobody wants the humility of having to sit on the losing side.”
Fall baseball is an important time for the program. The five-week period gives the coaching staff an early opportunity to evaluate the team. “With the Scarlet and Gray World Series we try to create an atmosphere and intensity of what we will see in the spring,” Todd said. “This is a big jump for the freshmen to go from the high school setting to playing Division I major college baseball.
“We will evaluate not just how they perform on the playing field, but we will also try to assess how they handle things mentally. Once the intensity cranks up, the ability to play with poise is crucial.”
While the 2002 Buckeyes did not earn the regular season Big Ten Championship, they did sweep through the conference tournament to win Ohio State’s fifth tournament championship, while also earning the school’s 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The latter two accomplishments give the Buckeyes something to build upon in 2003, but the team still, as always, has its sight set on the regular season conference crown.
The team will have to make up for the loss of first baseman Nick Swisher, outfielder Doug Deeds and right-handed pitcher E.J. Laratta, all of who were drafted a year ago. Also gone are senior catcher Joe Wilkins and outfielder Doug Dendinger.
Christian Snavely (Jr., Defiance, Ohio/Defiance), a Second Team All-Big Ten choice a year ago, returns with the top batting average on the team. He was second on the team a year ago behind Deeds, with a .360 batting average. He had 10 home runs and knocked in 46 RBI, both stats lead the returning players. Snavely, who played second base nearly all of last season, could see more time in the outfield this year. Mike Rabin (So., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) was fifth on the team by batting average last year with a .319 BA. He, along with Snavely, led the team last year at the plate in Big Ten games, both hitting .373.
Ohio State strength in 2003 should be on the mound, just as it was last season when the Buckeyes led the league in pitching with a 4.45 ERA. Back from last year’s four-man starting rotation are Nate Smith (Sr., Bryan, Ohio/Bryan), Josh Newman (Jr., Wheelersburg, Ohio/Wheelersburg) and Scott Lewis (So., Washington Court House, Ohio/Washington). Lewis was the 2002 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and led the Buckeyes with a 2.84 ERA and an 8-2 record. He recorded 91 strikeouts in 92 innings on his way to First Team All-Big Ten honors along with Smith. Smith did not lose until the final game of the season and finished with a 6-1 record and a 3.12 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. Newman was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection and finished with an 8-6 record and 4.47 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 94.2 innings. Matt Davis (So., Mason, Ohio/William Mason) followed up a 6-0 season for Ohio State in 2002 by making the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League All-Star Team. He pitched the final inning in the team’s 6-5 victory over Team USA.
The will also get back two players, who had to sit out last season because of injury. Outfielder Steve Caravati (So., Dover, Ohio/Dover) batted .346 with four home runs and 35 RBI in 2001, when he earned recognition on the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. He played the first three games in 2002 before he was sidelined. Right-handed pitcher Greg Prenger (Sr., Harpster, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) will also return from injury. He was 5-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 2001, when he earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors. He had 50 strikeouts in 72.2 innings.
The Buckeyes welcomed eight freshmen to the program this fall. This group features three all-state selections. The freshman class includes: Doug Carpenter (RHP, Bryan, Ohio/Bryan); Trey Fausnaugh (RHP, Circleville, Ohio/Westfall); Jacob Howell (OF, Ashland, Ohio/Ashland); Philip Mattingly (IF, Toledo, Ohio/Ottawa Hills); Kris Moorman (IF/OF, St. Henry, Ohio/St. Henry); Wes Schirtzinger (IF, Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North); Jedidiah Stephen (IF/OF, Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah); and, Drew Thomas (OF, Mechanicsburg, Ohio/Briggs).
Ohio State might not have won the 2002 Big Ten regular season championship, but the Buckeyes got the better end of the deal when they qualified for their 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That reward came when Ohio State claimed the Big Ten Tournament Championship May 25 at Minnesota’s Siebert Field with a 6-3 victory over the Golden Gophers, which had won the regular season championship by .22 percentage points in front of the Buckeyes the final weekend of the regular season at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus.
Ohio State was the only team from the conference to earn a bid to NCAA Tournament. Ohio State drew the third seed at the Notre Dame Regional, but lost its first-round game to the second-seeded Fighting Irish before bouncing back winning elimination games over Kent State, the fourth seed, and top-seeded South Alabama. Notre Dame beat the Buckeyes to advance to the Super Regional and ultimately the College World Series.
Along the way, several Buckeyes picked up honors. Eight OSU players were named to the All-Big Ten teams, including Nick Swisher, Scott Lewis and Nate Smith, which all three garnered first-team honors. Lewis was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year (the fourth straight such honoree from Ohio State) and Joe Wilkins was voted the Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes landed six on the 12-member all-tournament team.
Additionally, Lewis was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and three Buckeyes were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, including Swisher, who was the 16th overall selection by the Oakland Athletics. He is the highest draft selection in Ohio State history.