Ohio State Opens 131st Season of Baseball Against Connecticut, Auburn and Indiana State
Greg Greve

Feb. 12, 2014

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  • COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State baseball team opens its 131st season when it travels to Port Charlotte, Fla., for four games beginning Friday as part of the Snowbird Classic. The Buckeyes face Connecticut at 5 p.m. Friday, Auburn at noon Saturday and Indiana State at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

    The game against Connecticut will be played at Charlotte Sports Park while the final three contests will be played at North Charlotte Regional Park.

    The 2014 Buckeyes return 13 letterwinners from a season ago, including five starting position players and five pitchers. All-American closer Trace Dempsey is back along with outfielder Pat Porter, who led or tied for the team lead in doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and RBI in 2013.

    UCONN: RHP Greg Greve (4-1, 3.65 ERA in `13)
            vs. RHP Jordan Tabakman (6-2, 2.57)
    AU: LHP Ryan Riga (3-0, 2.14)
    vs. LHP Michael O'Neal (8-4, 2.73)
    ISU (Sat.): LHP Zach Farmer (-)
               vs. RHP Brad Lombard (-)
    ISU (Sun.): TBA
                vs. TBA

    Connecticut went 35-28 and won the Big East Tournament before falling in the Blacksburg Regional a season ago. The Huskies return infielder Vinny Siena, who hit .302 with seven doubles, 35 RBI and 31 runs scored a year ago, but will be without American Athletic Conference Preseason Co-Pitcher of the Year Carson Cross, who had season-ending shoulder surgery.

    Ohio State holds a 7-4 lead in the all-time series but dropped a 5-2 decision last year in Deland, Fla.

    Auburn tallied a 33-23 record in 2013 and is led by first-year head coach Sunny Golloway. Among the seven returning starting position players is infielder Jordan Ebert, who hit .303 with four home runs, 29 runs scored and 22 RBI. Senior left-hander Michael O'Neal returns after posting an 8-4 record with a 2.73 ERA in 89.0 innings pitched a year ago.

    Ohio State trails the all-time series, 4-3, but has won the last two meetings, both coming in an NCAA Regional at Auburn in 2003.

    Indiana State finished 2013 with a 26-25 overall record. The Sycamores return infielder Derek Hannahs, who hit .309 with a double and 17 runs scored in 37 games. On the mound, Indiana State lost supplemental first-rounder Sean Manaea but return right-hander Daniel Peterson, who posted a 4.61 ERA in nine starts.

    Ohio State and Indiana State have never met on the diamond.

    Trace Dempsey and Josh Dezse have been named third team preseason All-Americans by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball. Dempsey was named a third team relief pitcher while Dezse earned third team honors as a utility player.

    Dempsey, also named an NCBWA preseason All-American, garnered multiple All-America laurels a season ago after he went 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA and 17 saves in 31 appearances. A first team All-Big Ten selection from Huntington, W.Va., Dempsey struck out 28 and allowed opponents to hit .180 in 35.1 innings pitched. His 17 saves were the most in the Big Ten and finished one shy of tying Jake Hale's Big Ten and Ohio State record of 18 set in 2009. Dempsey went 30.1 innings without allowing an earned run between Feb. 17 and May 17.

    Dezse, a redshirt junior this season, sat out the 2013 season with a stress reaction in his back. As a sophomore in 2012, 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. 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 14 games on the road in 2014, opening the season against 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Connecticut Feb. 14 in Port Charlotte, Fla., before facing Auburn Feb. 15 and playing two contests to wrap up the weekend against Indiana State. The Buckeyes travel to Orlando, Fla., Feb. 21-23 to play host Central Florida, The Citadel and Oklahoma, an NCAA Super Regional team a season ago.  Ohio State then hits the road to Greenville, N.C., Feb. 28-March 2 to take on Pittsburgh, Western Kentucky and East Carolina before concluding the road string with a three-game set at sixth-ranked Oregon March 7-9 a single game at fourth-ranked Oregon State March 11.

    Ohio State has been selected third in the Big Ten preseason coaches' poll, the conference office announced Feb. 12. In addition, Trace Dempsey, Josh Dezse and Pat Porter have been named players to watch in the conference.

    Indiana enters the season as the conference favorite followed by Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan State. Illinois and Michigan were picked in a tie for fifth.

    Josh Dezse, Greg Greve and Tim Wetzel have been named captains of the 2014 Ohio State baseball team, head coach Greg Beals announced Feb. 7. The trio, selected as captains by their teammates, has combined to appear in 318 career games.

    "These three young men are great ambassadors of Ohio State baseball in the locker room, on the field and on campus," Beals said. "Greg, Josh and Tim have been with this coaching staff from day one, they have a great understanding of the expectations and direction we are moving and will be great leaders of this team."

    Dezse, who redshirted the 2013 campaign after suffering a stress reaction in his back, has appeared in 111 career games, including 50 appearances on the mound. At the plate, the Powell, Ohio, native has a .318 career batting average with 20 doubles and nine home runs. On the mound, Dezse has gone 5-4 with a 4.82 ERA and 13 saves.

    Greve, from Cleveland, Ohio, has appeared in 46 career games on the mound, making 20 starts. The senior is 10-7 with a 4.82 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 143.2 career innings. As a junior a season ago, Greve with 4-1 with a 3.65 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen.

    Wetzel has appeared in 161 career games, starting all of them. The Mayfield, Ohio, native has a .258 career average to go along with 16 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 27 stolen bases.

    The conference office announced Feb. 7 that the Big Ten Baseball Tournament will feature an eight-team field for the first time in conference history, beginning with the 2014 event. The 2014 Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be held May 21-25 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., home of the College World Series.

    The tournament's double-elimination format will culminate with a single championship game on Sunday, with the winner earning the tournament title and the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. All eight teams will begin play in one of two brackets, with the No. 1, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 8 seeds appearing in one bracket and the No. 2, No. 3, No. 6 and No. 7 seeds appearing in the other bracket.

    HEAD COACH Greg Beals
    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 337-279 career record and is in his 12th season as a collegiate head coach.

    Ohio State is 279-141 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .670 winning percentage. Ohio State is 157-86 vs. the Big Ten Conference at home.

    Ohio State travels to Orlando, Fla., to face host Central Florida, The Citadel and Oklahoma Feb. 21-23.