No. 24 Baseball Opens the 2001 Big Ten Season
March 30, 2001
The No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes opens the 2001 Big Ten Season in Iowa City with a four-game series against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes (17-4 overall) enter this weekend as one of the hottest teams in the country with a 14-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes are carrying a three-game losing streak an opened their Big Ten Season last weekend against Michigan. The Wolverines won the first game but the remainder of the series was cancelled because of severe cold weather. The game Friday begins at 4 p.m., the doubleheader Saturday begins at 1 p.m. and the series finale on Sunday is at 1 p.m. The games will be played at Iowa Field.
Big Ten Openers
Under head coach Bob Todd, the Buckeyes are 6-7 in Big Ten opening games but have won or tied 12-of-13 opening series. Last year, the Buckeyes won the opener against Iowa at Bill Davis Stadium and eventually split the four-game series.
Big Ten Dominance
Under head coach Bob Todd, the Buckeyes have won or tied 79-of-91 Big Ten series in his 14-year tenure and have never lost a Big Ten series at Bill Davis Stadium.
The games can be heard live on WOSU (820 AM) and on-line at ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Longtime voices of OSU Baseball Herb Howenstine and the jovial Frank Fraas will call the action. The series opener on Friday, first game Saturday and series finale on Sunday, will be broadcast on both WOSU and ohiostatebuckeyes.com. The second game Saturday will only be broadcast on the Internet.
On Monday, the Big Ten Conference named first baseman Nick Swisher as its player of the week. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, he helped lead Ohio State to six wins in Florida last week while hitting .400 (6-of-15) with three home runs and nine runs batted in. He posted a slugging percentage of 1.067 and each of his homers proved to be the game-winning run in each respective contest. Swisher also collected nine walks (three intentional) while helping the Buckeyes to their current 14-game winning streak and perfect 10-0 Spring Break trip (OSU played 10 games in 10 days). "We had a great week as a team in Florida," Swisher said. "We left Bradenton with a 10-0 record and came back ranked in the Top 25. Everyone on our team is getting the job done and because of that, I was able to win this award." Swisher currently leads the Big Ten with nine home runs, a .931 slugging percentage, 22 walks and a .561 on base percentage. He is second with 26 RBI and 54 total bases. Swisher took the award home twice in his freshman season. Starting Fast
The 16-4 start is Ohio State's best 20-game start since 1994 when the program opened the season 17-3. That year, the Buckeyes finished with the best record in the nation at 49-9.
The current 14-game winning streak is OSU's best since 1999. That year, the team went on a school record 21-game binge and finished one win away from a berth in the College World Series
A Perfect Spring Break
Faced with nearly every conceivable type of game (doubleheaders, cancelled games, makeup games, night games followed by early morning games), the Buckeyes stood strong and finished their Spring Break trip with a 10-0 mark in Bradenton, Fla. Ohio State posted wins over conference rival Northwestern along with Harvard, Fairleigh-Dickinson and Vermont.
Making an Appearance
Senior pitcher Cory Cox is two appearances shy of tying the Ohio State career record. The OSU stopper currently has 77 appearances. The current record is held by Andy Lee (1996-99) with 79.
Sophomore Nick Swisher is swinging a mighty stick this year. He currently leads the Big Ten with nine home runs. He is averaging a home run every 6.78 at bats and last week in Bradenton, Fla., he averaged a home run every 5.00 at bats. Last year, Swisher totaled 10 home runs in 60 games. Opponents are taking notice and showing much respect as Swisher has accumulated 23 walks in 20 games.
Prenger Picking Up Steam
In his last two starts, Greg Prenger has not give up an earned run in 17.1 innings of work. He also has totaled 10 strikeouts and dropped his season earned run average from 8.49 to 3.38, eighth lowest in the Big Ten Conference.
Senior John Mayor leads the Buckeyes with a .385 batting average. Sophomore Nick Swisher has a team-high nine home runs and 26 runs batted in. Freshman Doug Deeds has a team high seven doubles. Senior Mike Check is a perfect 13-of-13 in stolen bases and is tied with Mike Harris (13-of-17) for the team lead.
Junior E.J. Laratta leads all starting pitcher with four wins (4-1) and a 3.34 earned run average. Senior Kevin Goodrum leads the team with 29 strikeouts. Out of the bullpen, Brandon Steen has been impressive with a 1.38 ERA in eight appearances. Stopper Cory Cox has a team high four saves.
A Picky Guy
Junior E.J. Laratta currently leads the Big Ten with six pickoffs. He totaled a season-high three against Detroit March 9.
Offensively, the Buckeyes are averaging 8.33 runs per game and 10.5 hits per game. OSU is carrying a .321 batting average (opponents are batting just .259). From the mound, the Buckeyes are carrying a remarkably low 3.53 earned run average (opponents carrying a 7.27 ERA).
Big Ten Leaders
(As of Monday) As a team, OSU leads the Big Ten Conference with a .320 batting average and 23 home runs. On the mound, the Buckeyes lead the conference with 16 wins and are second with a 3.61 earned run average. Individually, Mike Check is the conference leader with 13 stolen bases, Steve Caravati is first with three triples, Cory Cox leads the league with four saves
Scouting the Hawkeyes
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter this weekend with an 8-7 overall record and currently on a three-game losing streak. On Tuesday, the Hawkeyes lost to instate rival Iowa State, 5-3 in Ames, Iowa. Last weekend Iowa lost its only Big Ten game against Michigan. The remainder of the scheduled four-game series was cancelled because of severe cold. Brian Burks is the team's leading hitting with a .409 batting average. Ian Mattiace has a team high four home runs and Alex Dvorsky is pacing the Hawkeyes with 14 runs batted in. On the mound, Dyson Miguel and Andrew Hansen lead the Hawkeyes with two wins. Reed Pawelk has a team high three saves. The Iowa head coach is Scott Broghamer. His in his fourth year at the helm.
OSU vs. Iowa All-Time
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series between the two schools, 48-38-1. Last year, the teams split a four-game series in Columbus. The Buckeyes won the finale, 11-1.
Two of Ohio State's four losses have come against ranked opponents and in games decided in the ninth inning. On Feb. 23, OSU opened the 2001 season at the Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette, La., with a game against No. 11 Nebraska. Going into the ninth inning, OSU was down 6-5, before the Huskers broke the game open with four runs. The following day against No. 25 Wichita State, the two teams played scoreless baseball for the first six innings. In the seventh, both teams scored five runs each and in the bottom of the ninth, the Shockers won the game on a RBI single.
OSU Defeats BSC
The Buckeyes scored five runs in the first three innings and cruised to a 12-2 win over Birmingham Southern Wednesday night at Bill Davis Stadium. The win moved the Buckeyes' winning streak to 14 games while improving their overall record to 17-4. Birmingham Southern, ranked No. 3 in the NAIA national rankings, falls to 24-6 on the season.
Kennel Club Classic Recap
On, March 2-4, OSU finished the 2001 Kennel Club Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., with a 2-2 record. The Buckeyes opened the tournament with a thrilling, come from behind 10-9 win over Jacksonville. The following day, OSU upset No. 16 Stetson, 13-5. The Buckeyes concluded the tournament with losses to North Florida and Austin Peay.
Mardi Gras Ball Recap
On Feb. 23-25, the Buckeyes opened the 2001 season at the Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette, La. OSU opened the tournament with a 10-5 loss to No. 11 Nebraska. Going into the ninth inning, OSU was down 6-5. But the Huskers broke the game open with four runs. Against No. 25 Wichita State, the two teams played scoreless baseball for the first six innings. In the seventh, both teams scored five runs each and in the bottom of the ninth, the Shockers won the game on a RBI single. Against host school Louisiana-Lafayette, the Buckeyes put together their best game of the weekend. Starting pitcher Greg Prenger gave up just four hits in seven innings of work. Steve Caravati drove in four runs to help lead OSU to the 10-2 win.
USA Baseball Adds Todd
USA Baseball has named Ohio State baseball head coach Bob Todd as the third and final assistant coach of the 2001 USA Baseball National Team. The team will consist of collegiate all-stars that will play approximately 30 games on the USA Baseball Red, White and Blue Tour this summer. Pat McMahon of Mississippi State is the head coach and will be assisted by Paul Stevens of Northwestern and Dusty Rhodes of North Florida. In June, USA Baseball, McMahon and his coaching staff will select a team comprised primarily of the nation's top freshman and sophomore collegiate players. The players will assemble at the training site in Tucson, Ariz., then depart for Japan to play a five-game series against the Japanese Collegiate All-Stars in Tokyo and Okinawa. Upon returning from Japan, the team will play approximately 25 additional games in July in various states on the USA Red, White and Blue Tour, including Alaska, Ohio and New York.
Laratta and Swisher Listed
The 2001 Rotary Smith committee has released a preliminary watch list of over 160 Division I college baseball players who are under consideration to become the winner of the 14th annual Rotary Smith Award, which will be handed out in Houston, Texas June 28. Junior pitcher E.J. Laratta and sophomore first baseman Nick Swisher have been named to the preliminary list. To view the complete list, log on to www.smithaward.com.
Swisher Picked by Magazine
Sophomore first baseman Nick Swisher was Collegiate Baseball's preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Last year, Swisher won Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors.
Last Year Review
The 2000 season marked the 13th consecutive winning season of Ohio State baseball. The 37-23 overall record also marked the 10th consecutive year of at least 35 wins or more for head coach Bob Todd and his Buckeyes. In his 13 years as the mentor, Todd has never had a losing season at Ohio State. As a team, the 2000 Buckeyes qualified for the Big Ten Baseball Tournament and advanced to the semifinal round. During the Spring, OSU won the Service Academies Classic in Millington, Tenn., and the Winthrop Classic in Rock Hill, S.C. The individual awards were plenty for the Buckeyes. Nick Swisher became the second consecutive Buckeye to take home Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors. Jason Turner took home All-Big Ten accolades after leading the Big Ten with 17 home runs. Three other Buckeyes took home All-Big Ten honors including stopper Cory Cox and starting pitcher E.J. Laratta.
The Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office has announced that season tickets for the 2001 baseball season are now on sale. The entire season is $176 and the Big Ten Grand Slam package is $96. Single game tickets are currently on sale and will be based on availability. For the general public, box seats are $10 and general admission is $5. For Ohio State students, box seats are $6 and general admission is $3. Groups of 10 or more will be able to purchase general admission seats for $2 each. For questions or to order tickets, please contact the Ohio State Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-BUCKS or at (614) 292-6861 or log on to www.hangonsloopy.com.
The TV Schedule.
Prior to this season, the Ohio News Network (ONN) agreed to televise nine OSU baseball games at Bill Davis Stadium. Central Ohio Sport! television also has agreed to televise four additional games. The Buckeyes will now have 13 home games televised this year.
OSU baseball results can easily be found on the Internet at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
The Buckeyes return home for a seven-game homestand on Wednesday, April 4 with a game against Wright State at 6:35 p.m. followed by a weekend series against the Illinois Fighting Illini.