Ohio State Hits the Road for Three-Game Big Ten Series at Illinois
Jaron Long

April 19, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team travels to Champaign for a three-game set with Illinois this weekend. The series opener is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET Friday before a 4:05 p.m. middle game Saturday and a 2:05 p.m. series finale Sunday.

The Buckeyes have dropped four consecutive games for the first time this season after falling in the final two games last weekend against Nebraska and against Xavier and Cincinnati earlier this week. Tim Wetzel has picked up multi-hit games in four of his last five games, including a three-hit game Wednesday against the Bearcats.

Game 1: RHP Jaron Long (3-1, 2.27 ERA)
          vs. RHP Kevin Johnson (5-3, 3.95 ERA)
Game 2: LHP Brian King (3-3, 4.96 ERA)
          vs. RHP John Kravetz (5-3, 4.69 ERA)
Game 3: RHP John Kuchno (5-3, 4.89 ERA)
          vs. TBA

Illinois, under the direction of Dan Hartleb, enters the weekend with a 20-16 overall record, 3-6 in Big Ten play. Jordan Parr leads the Fighting Illini with a .366 batting average with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs, 27 runs scored and 25 RBI. Reid Roper adds a .336 average with eight doubles and 24 RBI. Right-hander Kevin Johnson has posted a 5-3 record with a 3.95 ERA and 24 strikeouts in nine starts.

Ohio State holds a 100-93-2 advantage in the all-time series but the Illini took three of four games last season.

The Buckeyes enter the weekend with a 21-16 overall record, tied for fifth with a 6-6 ledger in the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State ranks fourth in on-base percentage (.378) and fifth in runs scored (218), doubles (59), batting average (.272) and home runs (18). The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 181 walks and 60 stolen bases.

Individually, Josh Dezse sits tied for seventh in the Big Ten with five home runs and sixth with a .454 on-base percentage while Ryan Cypret leads the Big Ten with 31 walks. Brad Hallberg is tied for third in the conference with 11 doubles. Kirby Pellant is second with 20 stolen bases while Joe Ciamacco sits seventh with 13. Tim Wetzel is second in the Big Ten with 28 walks.

On the mound, Jaron Long sits fifth with a 2.27 ERA and tied for sixth with 44 strikeouts. John Kuchno is tied for fifth with five wins while David Fathalikhani and Andrew Armstrong are tied for first in the Big Ten with 19 appearances.

Jaron Long tossed his second complete game in three starts, allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out five to move to 3-1 on the season Friday against Nebraska ... Josh Dezse went 7-for-15 with three doubles and two RBI in the Nebraska series while Greg Solomon went 4-for-9 with a triple, a home run, five RBI and three runs scored ... Ryan Leffel went 2-for-2 and Phil Jaskot went 1-for-1 in a pinch-hit appearance Sunday against the Cornhuskers ... Patrick Porter went 4-for-10 with a triple, four runs scored, two RBI and two walks in the Nebraska series ... the Cincinnati game marked the 15th time this season the Buckeyes recorded double-digit hits.

The Buckeyes are 60 of 74 in stolen base attempts this season. They were 35 of 57 all of last season ... Jaron Long has allowed just six walks in 63.1 innings pitched this season. He has struck out 44 and allowed opponents to hit .242 while posting a 2.27 ERA ... Long has gone at least 7.0 innings in all seven of his starts and allowed two earned runs or less in six of those seven ... The sophomore has allowed three earned runs while striking out 15 over 26.0 innings pitched over his last three starts ... The Buckeyes are 17-0 when leading after seven innings and 14-2 when out-hitting the opponent ... Ohio State is 13-2 when scoring six or more runs and 17-7 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 36 of 37 contests and 19 consecutive games while Brad Hallberg has reached in 33 of 36 starts this season ... David Fathalikhani has not allowed an earned run or walked a batter over his last 16 appearances ... Hallberg’s 13 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 ... Tim Wetzel has an eight-game hitting streak including double-digit hits in four of his last five contests ... during the streak, Wetzel is hitting .444 (12-for-27) with a double, a triple, a home run, five RBI and is reaching base at .531 clip.

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 290-245 career record and in his 10th season as a collegiate head coach.

Ohio State is 256-129 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .670 winning percentage. Ohio State is 147-82 vs. the Big Ten Conference at home.

The Buckeyes host Bowling Green Wednesday before hitting the road for three games at Penn State next weekend.