Ohio State Hosts Northwestern in Crucial Big Ten Series
Kirby Pellant

May 3, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team hosts Northwestern in a three-game Big Ten series this weekend at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. The opener is slated for 7:05 p.m. before a 6:05 p.m. middle game Saturday and a 1:05 p.m. series finale Sunday.

The Buckeyes defeated Penn State, 4-1, in the first game of the series last Friday before dropping a pair of one-run contests in the final two games. Jaron Long pitched very well again, earning the win Friday after allowing one earned run over eight innings while striking out five. Kirby Pellant went 3-for-8 on the weekend with three RBI, a run scored and four walks.

Game 1: RHP Jaron Long (4-2, 1.98 ERA)
          vs. RHP Francis Brooke (1-5, 2.88 ERA)
Game 2: LHP Brian King (3-3, 4.85)
          vs. RHP Brandon Magallones (6-3, 4.13)
Game 3: RHP John Kuchno (6-3, 5.33)
          vs. RHP Zach Morton (1-8, 3.88)

Northwestern, under the direction of 25th-year head coach Paul Stevens, is 16-26 on the season, 5-13 in Big Ten play. Geoff Rowan leads the Wildcats with a .323 batting average with five doubles, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored while Jack Havey is hitting .289 with eight doubles and a team-high five home runs and 27 RBI. On the mound, Francis Brooke has pitched well, posting a 2.88 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 72.0 innings but has not received much run support and has a 1-5 record.

Ohio State holds an 88-45 advantage in the all-time series with the Wildcats after taking two of three games in Columbus last season.

The Buckeyes enter the weekend with a 24-20 overall record, eighth in the Big Ten Conference with an 8-10 ledger. Ohio State ranks third in on-base percentage (.374), fourth in runs scored (255) and fifth in batting average (.265). The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 223 walks and rank second with 68 stolen bases.

Individually, Josh Dezse sits sixth with a .447 on-base percentage while Brad Hallberg is tied for sixth with 12 doubles. Ryan Cypret leads the Big Ten with 35 walks while Tim Wetzel sits third with 33. Kirby Pellant sits second with 23 stolen bases and Joe Ciamacco is tied for seventh with 14.

On the mound, Jaron Long ranks in several categories, including ERA (1.98, 4th), strikeouts (54, t-8th) and opposing batting average (.246, 9th) while John Kuchno is tied for seventh with six wins and Josh Dezse is seventh with four saves. Andrew Armstrong leads the Big Ten with 24 appearances and David Fathalikhani is second with 23.

In addition, the Buckeyes rank fourth nationally in walks and Long sits 19th in walks per nine innings at 1.05.

Brad Hallberg recorded his team-high 14th multi-hit game Saturday against Penn State ... Kirby Pellant went 3-for-8 in the Penn State sereies, driving in three runs and using four walks to reach base at a .615 clip ... Jaron Long pitched well once again, allowing one earned run on six hits while striking out five over 8.0 innings to earn the win Friday ... Brett McKinney tossed 2.1 hitless innings of relief, striking out a batter in the extra-inning loss Sunday ... The Buckeyes stranded 34 runners on base in the three-game set at Penn State ... The three through six hitters in the Buckeye lineup combined to go 9-for 16 with four RBI and four runs scored against Bowling Green.

The Buckeyes are 68 of 86 in stolen base attempts this season. They were 35 of 57 all of last season ... Jaron Long has allowed just nine walks in 77.1 innings pitched this season. He has struck out 54 and allowed opponents to hit .246 while posting a 1.98 ERA ... Long has gone at least 7.0 innings and allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his nine starts ... The sophomore has allowed four earned runs while striking out 25 over 40.0 innings pitched over his last five starts ... The Buckeyes are 19-0 when leading after seven innings and 16-3 when out-hitting the opponent ... Ohio State is 15-3 when scoring six or more runs and 19-8 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 43 of 44 contests and 26 consecutive games while Brad Hallberg has reached in 37 of 42 starts this season ... Hallberg’s 14 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 14.0 innings pitched over his last four appearances ...  Ciamacco is hitting a team-best .483 with runners in scoring position while Dezse is second with a .358 average ... Kirby Pellant has reached base safely in his last 15 games ... Pellant also has recorded a career-best eight game hitting streak ... only five of 23 inherited runners have reached base against reliever David Fathalikhani ... Andrew Armstrong sits seventh on the Ohio State career list with 80 career appearances.

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 293-249 career record and in his 10th season as a collegiate head coach.

Ohio State is 257-129 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 travel to Stillwater, Okla., for a pair of midweek matchups Tuesday and Wednesday at Oklahoma State.