Ohio State, Nebraska Clash in Crucial Big Ten Series at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium
Josh Dezse

April 12, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team welcomes Nebraska to Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium for a three-game Big Ten series this weekend. The teams, tied for second in the conference at 5-4, will open the series at 6:35 p.m. Friday before a 3:05 p.m. Saturday matchup and a 1:05 p.m. Sunday finale.

The Buckeyes swept Minnesota last weekend for the first time since 2001 before defeating Ohio and Akron in midweek contests. Jaron Long picked up the win Friday, allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out eight over 8.0 innings pitched. John Kuchno earned his fifth win of the season Sunday, tossing 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Brad Hallberg enters the weekend on a tear, going 8-for-14 with three doubles, four runs scored and three RBI in his last four games.

Game 1: RHP Jaron Long (2-1, 2.36 ERA)
          vs. LHP Tyler King (1-0, 3.63 ERA)
Game 2: LHP Brian King (3-3, 4.81 ERA)
          vs. RHP Brandon Pierce (4-1, 2.45 ERA)
Game 3: RHP John Kuchno (5-1, 4.46 ERA)
          vs. LHP Zach Hirsch (3-2, 4.73 ERA)

Nebraska, under the direction of first-year head coach Darin Erstad, is 23-12 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten Conference play. Michael Pritchard leads the Big Ten with a .408 batting average with eight doubles, 33 runs scored and 12 RBI while Josh Scheffert is hitting .360 with eight doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI. Brandon Pierce is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched for the Cornhuskers.

The Buckeyes and Cornhuskers have met twice on the diamond, splitting the two matchups. Ohio State won the first meeting, 5-2, in 1991 before falling, 10-5, in 2001.

The Buckeyes enter the weekend with an 20-12 overall record, tied for second with a 5-4 ledger in the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State ranks fourth in runs scored (178) and on-base percentage (.371), fifth in doubles (54), first in walks (154) and second in stolen bases (54). The Buckeyes rank third in conference games only with a 3.30 ERA.

Individually, Josh Dezse sits tied for fourth in the Big Ten with five home runs and 10th with a .436 on-base percentage while Ryan Cypret leads the Big Ten with 26 walks. Brad Hallberg is tied for third in the conference with 11 doubles and sits ninth with a .439 on-base percentage. Kirby Pellant is second with 18 stolen bases while Joe Ciamacco sits tied for seventh with 10. Tim Wetzel is third in the Big Ten with 24 walks.

On the mound, Jaron Long sits third with a 2.36 ERA and tied for eighth with 38 strikeouts. John Kuchno is tied for the Big Ten lead with five wins while David Fathalikhani is tied for first in the Big Ten with 17 appearances and Andrew Armstrong is tied four fourth with 16.

Buckeye pitchers posted a 1.67 ERA in the series against Minnesota ... They also allowed the Gophers to hits just .196 (two extra-base hits) and struck out 24 batters to just five walks ... Jaron Long set a career high with eight strikeouts ... The Friday game against Minnesota was completed in a brisk one hour and 45 minutes, marking the shortest contest of the season ... Ohio State head coach Greg Beals is now 6-2 against Minnesota in his two seasons at the helm of the Buckeyes ... The Sunday win clinched the Buckeyes’ first series sweep vs. the Gophers since 2001 ... Patrick Porter went 4-for-8 with a double and an RBI in the series ... Brad Hallberg produced his team-leading 13th multiple-hit game of the season with a single and a double Wednesday against the Zips ... The Buckeyes are averaging 10 runs in four Wednesday games this season.

The Buckeyes are 54 of 66 in stolen base attempts this season. They were 35 of 57 all of last season ... Jaron Long has allowed just six walks in 53.1 innings pitched this season. He has struck out 38 and allowed opponents to hits .246 while posting a 2.36 ERA ... Long has gone at least 7.0 innings in all six of his starts and allowed two earned runs or less in five of those six ... The sophomore has allowed one earned run while striking out 10 over 17.0 innings pitched over his last two starts ... The Buckeyes are 16-0 when leading after seven innings and 13-0 when out-hitting the opponent ... Ohio State is 12-1 when scoring six or more runs and 16-6 when scoring first ... Junior Joe Ciamacco has nine multi-hit games this season after recording one before this season ... Josh Dezse has reached base safely in 31 of 32 contests while Brad Hallberg has reached in 29 of 31 starts this season ... David Fathalikhani has not allowed an earned run or walked a batter over his last 14 appearances ... Hallberg’s 12 extra-base hits this season eclipse his total of eight in 251 at-bats over his first three seasons ... Greg Greve has allowed three earned runs in 13.0 innings pitched over his last three appearances ... Ohio State’s starting pitchers have posted a 2.96 ERA in eight April starts and the entire staff as recorded a 2.57 ERA in that span.

Josh Dezse tied an Ohio State single-game record with three home runs Feb. 24. 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.

Josh Dezse was named Big Ten Player of the Week, the conference office announced Feb. 20.

Dezse went 7-for-14 on the weekend with a home run, five RBI and four runs scored as the Buckeyes went 2-1 in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. The Powell, Ohio, native had multi-hit games in all three contests Feb. 17-19, highlighted by a three-hit performance Friday against USF and a 2-for-4 effort with a home run and four RBI Feb. 19 against Connecticut.

Dezse was named an NCBWA third team preseason All-American and a third team preseason All-American by CollegeSportsMadness.com. Dezse also was named to the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur baseball player in the country.

The Powell, Ohio, native led the Buckeyes with a .332 batting average and 42 runs batted in last season. He tied for the team lead with four home runs while going 4-2 with a team-high six saves and 32 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched. Dezse led the Buckeyes with 12 multiple RBI games and tied for third on the team with 17 multi-hit games.

Dezse became the 10th Buckeye to garner Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors after earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week laurels four times during the season and Player of the Week honors twice. In addition, he was named a Freshman All-American by the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger.

The Ohio State baseball program honored Nick Swisher with a field dedication ceremony Nov. 3 at the newly-renovated Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. Current Buckeyes, fans and media were on hand to recognize Swisher for his generosity in giving the program $500,000 to help install a new turf field.

Selected by the Oakland Athletics with the 16th overall pick of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft, Swisher also spent time with the White Sox before heading to his current home with the New York Yankees where he was a part of the 2009 World Champion team and named an American League All-Star the following season. In his professional career, the Columbus native has seen action in 1,061 games and has amassed 185 home runs.

Head coach Greg Beals is just the 11th head coach in Ohio State history and only the fourth in the last 60 years. He has a 289-241 career record and in his 10th season as a collegiate head coach.

Ohio State is 255-125 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .670 winning percentage. Ohio State is 146-81 vs. the Big Ten Conference at home.

The Buckeyes host Xavier and Cincinnati in a pair of midweek matchups before taking on Illinois in a three-game set next weekend in Champaign.