COLUMBUS, Ohio – When it was all said and done, the 2009 regular season was an odd one for Ohio State baseball. And this program likes odd years because for the 10th consecutive odd-numbered year, since 1991, and for the 13th time in coach Bob Todd’s 22 years as coach, Ohio State will be playing in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.
The team learned today that it has been invited into the NCAA championship field as the No. 3 seed in the Tallahassee, Fla., Regional and will play No. 2 seed and 37-22 Georgia at 12 noon Friday on ESPNU. Host and No. 1 seed Florida State and No. 4 Marist are the other schools in the four-team Tallahassee Regional. They play at 4 p.m. Friday.
“It feels good to be in the tournament because it is like a new season,” junior Cory Kovanda, from Worthington Kilbourne said. “The excitement and energy is there for us. We just have to go out and win our region.”
The four teams will play a double elimination tournament starting Friday, May 29 and continuing through Monday, June 1, if necessary. All games will start at 12 noon or 4 p.m. with the exception of a game Monday, if necessary. That game would start at 7 p.m.
“It’s a good feeling to get in,” team captain Justin Miller said. “The three teams in our regional are obviously really good and to start off with Georgia will be tough. We’re going to be ready to go, though.”
No one predicted in the preseason that this Ohio State team would do what it has done so far. That’s only the beginning of the “odd” that can be gleaned from this Big Ten championship season and the team’s 40-17 record. Consider:
•The team played its first 21 games in the state of Florida, where it is heading, and won 18 of them, including a 7-1 win at No. 2 Miami, to build a foundation of success, confidence and karma that carried the team to its 40-win season, the 11th at Ohio State for Coach Todd.
•The team was only 3-5 in Tuesday and Wednesday home games, though, including getting outscored, 51-23, in losses to Marshall, Kent State, Ball State and Eastern Michigan.
•Ohio State won seven of eight Big Ten series, including three-game sweeps of Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa.
•After winning its final five Big Ten games to win the championship on the final day of the regular season, Ohio State went 1-2 in the Big Ten tournament.
•Buckeyes hit more home runs – 63 – than the previous two years combined (40) and more than any Ohio State team has hit in nine of the last 10 years.
•The team scored 10 or more runs 18 times but allowed 10 or more 12 times.
•The staff ERA was over 5.00, but the team set a single season record for saves (19), had the third-most strikeout total in school history (439), produced the Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Year (Alex Wimmers) and 50-percent of the first-team all-Big Ten staff (Wimmers and Jake Hale), plus a second-team selection (11-game winner Dean Wolosiansky).
•Led by a lineup full of players capable of getting extra-base hits – nine Buckeyes had 10 or more extra-base hits with 26 apiece from captain Justin Miller, Big Ten Player of the Year Dan Burkhart and Michael Stephens, and 24 (and 50 RBI) from leadoff hitter Zach Hurley – Ohio State produced an 11-year high 199 extra base hits, sixth-most in school history.
All that oddness did was present Ohio State with its 19th NCAA tournament invite in school history and the 15th in an odd numbered year. Coach Bob Todd’s teams have made every odd year tournament since 1991 (1991-93-95-97-99-2001-03-05-07-09) in addition to making the field in 1992, 1994 and 2002.
As the team prepares to head back to Florida, it seems as if Ohio State would take an odd year on the baseball field every year.
More Notes and Quotes on the Tallahassee Regional and the NCAA Field:
•Ohio State’s practice time is 2 p.m. Thursday.
•Ohio State volunteer assistant coach Pete Jenkins spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons in a similar capacity at Florida State.
•Florida State has been selected as a regional host for the 27th time in school history. The regional will be contested on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
•Georgia is led by junior 1B/3B Rich Poythress, who is hitting .370 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI.
•The Bulldogs have 98 home runs this season.
•Florida State is 42-16, including 30-6 at home and 19-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
•Marist, 31-26 and the champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is making its fifth NCAA appearance in the last 10 years.
•Dan Burkhart quotes: “It’s unbelievable to be able to be in the tournament. It was our goal all year just as it was to win the Big Ten. We have a tough region, but we’re going to be ready to play.”
•Zach Hurley quotes: “Our regional is definitely tough and there are a lot of solid teams that we’ll have to beat. We’re looking forward to the competition and opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament.”
•Ohio State played eight teams that made the 2009 NCAA tournament: Army, Kent State, Louisville, Indiana, Miami, George Mason, Xavier and Minnesota.
•Ohio State went 7-7 against teams in the NCAA tournament.
•Three teams from the Big Ten made the 2009 field. Indiana will play Louisville Friday in Louisville while Minnesota will play Baylor in the Baton Rouge, La., Regiona.
OSU Athletics Regional release