Friday, May 1, 2009

The Lantern: Michigan Series This Weekend

Nathan Schlabach
Issue date: 5/1/09

Ohio State's arch rival from the north comes to play this weekend, and this time it will take place on the baseball diamond.

No matter the sport, when the Buckeyes and the Wolverines get together, they always take things seriously and always want to win.

"It doesn't matter if you live in California or Florida, you mention Ohio State- Michigan and there are a lot of people aware of that happening," OSU coach Bob Todd said.

The OSU baseball team (32-10, 11-4 Big Ten) welcomes Michigan (23-19, 6-9 Big Ten) to Bill Davis Stadium to start another important three-game series tonight.

It will mark the 249th meeting between these two teams, a rivalry that was started in 1895, two years before the gridiron rivalry.

"This is a big series, obviously when Ohio State plays Michigan in anything you know it's going to be a big event," third baseman Justin Miller said. "We haven't played too well against them the last couple of years, so hopefully we can keep this run going and have a good weekend."

Coach Todd recognizes the importance of the rivalry, but wants his guys to focus on playing smart baseball and not forget what got them to 32 wins.

"Our players are aware of what's going on and I guarantee if you're in Ann Arbor, their players are aware of what's happening this weekend," Todd said.

"[But] you also got to understand it's another game and we've got to go ahead and do the little things that have helped us in the past and stay focused on what we have to do."

OSU has struggled recently against Michigan, with the Wolverines winning 12 of the last 14 contests. The Buckeyes will look to correct that with three more tallies for the win column this weekend.

Catcher Dan Burkhart knows it will be tough.

"The Michigan rivalry is always intense; last year we went 1-3 against them and the last couple years we haven't been successful against Michigan," Burkhart said. "We need to come out this year and put it to them a little bit and really go out there and be ready to play, because they're going to be ready to play."

Michigan leads the series 157-90-2.

The Buckeyes will look to increase their lead in the Big Ten this weekend. They are currently sitting atop the Big Ten standings and are in a tie with Illinois for sole possession of first place.

Minnesota and Indiana are right behind, trying to gain the lead.

The Bucks know that this is no time to slow down if they expect to compete for the Big Ten title.

"If we want to win the Big Ten we got to go out there and win every game," Burkhart said.

The three-game series kicks off at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Bill Davis Stadium. Game two will take place at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and the series will wrap up starting at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

On the mound for the Buckeyes tonight will be sophomore ace Alex Wimmers (7-1). Saturday's game will start with Dean Wolosiansky and on Sunday Eric Best will take the mound.

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