Since the Diamond Dogs will be squaring off with Ohio State in the first game of the Tallahassee Regional on Friday, I suppose it’s high time I took a moment to take a gander at the Buckeyes. Inasmuch as they’re looking forward to facing us, we’d better get ready to tangle with them.
Your first thought might well be to wonder how O.S.U. is liable to fare in sunny Florida, which surely is unfamiliar territory to a Big Ten baseball team . . . but you would be wrong to think so. In fact, Ohio State spent the first month of the season in the Sunshine State. Between February 20 and March 24, the Buckeyes faced Notre Dame at Dunedin, Connecticut at Clearwater, and Cincinnati at Tampa as part of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge; played four straight games in Jacksonville in the North Florida Tournament; played the next four games at Winter Haven in the RussMatt Baseball Invitational; played the next four games at West Palm Beach in the Palm Beach Baseball Classic; went back to Winter Haven for four more games there; faced Rollins in Orlando; and met Miami in Coral Gables, all before O.S.U. faced its first opponent in Big Ten country on March 27. Remind me again why we needed a uniform start date?
Ohio State won the regular-season conference crown before going 1-2 through the league tournament. As of May 21, the Buckeyes led the Big Ten in team batting average (.330) and the O.S.U. batting order is bolstered by Dan Burkhart (team-leading 60 R.B.I.), Ryan Dew (team-leading .389 batting average), and Michael Stephens (team-leading twelve home runs).
Golden Spikes Award semifinalist Alex Wimmers has hurled over 100 innings and his 15 starts have produced a 9-1 record, a 2.68 earned run average, 131 strikeouts, 48 walks, five home runs, and a dozen wild pitches. Fellow 15-game starter Dean Wolosiansky has gone 11-2 while allowing 107 hits, a .315 batting average, and a 5.82 E.R.A. Wolosiansky’s E.R.A. actually went down against conference opponents, against whom he was 7-0; likewise, Dew’s batting average improved to .419 when facing Big Ten foes. Through May 21, the Buckeyes ranked sixth in the Big Ten in E.R.A. (5.51).
Ohio State is better on a neutral field (16-3) than at home (13-7) or on the road (11-7). The Buckeyes are 40-37 all-time in the N.C.A.A. tournament, including a 19-24 mark under current coach Bob Todd.
an odd a bizarre juxtaposition for you: Ohio State baseball teams are better in odd-numbered years than in even-numbered years. Starting in 1991, the Buckeyes have made the N.C.A.A. tournament field in ten straight odd-numbered years, but they have made it into regional play in just three even-numbered years during that span. Meanwhile, the Classic City Canines ordinarily excel in the even-numbered years and flop in the odd ones.
Weird. Could it be that Ohio State is the antimatter version of Georgia, and that the two teams are unable to coexist in the same N.C.A.A. tournament at the same time? If so, is it possible that, when the two teams come into contact on Friday, it will cause a rip in the space-time continuum and end life on earth as we know it?
Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out, either, so, please, by all means, follow along with the action, will you?