Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Wrap: Buckeyes Take Two from Hoosiers

I'll take back what I said last weekend. While winning two of three isn't bad, and I'm not entirely upset, this was a weekend where a sweep was there for the taking.

In what is a bit unsettling for the veteran team the Bucks field, play behind the pitchers is still a problem, and Saturday it gave the Hoosiers a few extra outs, at-bats, and runs preventing the three game sweep.

Still with the first Big Ten series at Bill Davis in the books, the Buckeyes are tied atop the Big Ten heading into next weekend's showdown with Michigan State, and there is a lot to feel good and look forward to as the season progresses.

In the wrap you'll find out which players had a great weekend, which ones not so much, how the games where won, how Saturday was lost, and other random tidbits thrown together in a buffet of Buckeye Baseball. Ohio State is now 19-9 overall, 4-2 in Big Ten play.

Game Recaps

Game 1
Score by Innings R H E
Indiana............. 000 000 010 - 1 6 1
Ohio State.......... 100 311 10X - 7 10 2
WP: Wimmers (7-0) LP: Igel (0-4) HR: Stephens (7)

Friday showed why there was so much excitement and anticipation entering the season for the Bucks. With his 14 strikeout effort, Wimmers moved to 7-0 on the year, a mark that is top in country. While the Indiana offense was being shutdown, the Ohio State bats led by seniors Zach Hurley, Cory Kovanda, and Michael Stephens were returning to midseason form.

At the top of the line-up Hurley 3-for-4 effort was matched by Kovanda's 2-for-2, 3 BB evening. As the team's cleanup hitter Stephens picked up his seventh home run and a double with a 2-for-4 game.

Though the Buckeyes did pick up 10 hits, draw six walks, and score seven runs, surprisingly a bit was left to be desire from the Bucks as 13 runners were left stranded, seven by Burkhart in an 0-for-4 outing, and three each by Dew (0-5), and Engle (0-4).

Thoughts from the game:
*Wimmers is really good. When his curve is getting over for strikes, leaving him with three pitches, you can feel safe taking Ohio State against anyone in the country. 12 of his strikeouts were via swining strikes, with unoffically 9 on change-ups.
*While Wimmers only threw 121 pitches, there was a moment of wondering if he would indeed finish the game. After dealing with a stiff back of late, Wimmers appeared to tire a bit, throwing more balls in the 8th and 9th innings than the 2-7th combined. However Coach Todd said Alex wanted to finish the game, and Wimmers confirmed and said his back was fine.
*Stephens home run to right caught everyone by surprised. It was not only hooking foul, it barely cleared the fence by a foot or two.
*Burkhart committed his first error of the season in tough-luck fashion. His throw down to second trying to catch Michael Early stealing was kicked by Early in front of Tyler Engle's glove, allowing Early to move to third.
*Though you cn take slight issue in Wimmers' complete game, the bullpen was not used which is always a plus.

Game 2
Score by Innings R H E
Indiana............. 102 000 010 2 - 6 11 4
Ohio State.......... 000 400 000 0 - 4 4 3
WP: Leininger (5-1) LP: Best (2-2) HR: DeLucia (4), Early (5)

Baseball usually has a way of evening itself out. When I arrived at Bill Davis to watch the final seven innings, the Buckeyes were up 4-3 in a game they had no business being up.

While Brian DeLucia's grand slam in the fourth put the home team in front 4-3, all four runs wee unearned, as Indiana did their best Ohio State impression in booting balls.

Still the Bucks, as good teams do, did captalize on it and were on their way to victory.

Though Drew Leininger, the Big Tean's ERA leader, help the Bucks to four hits, none after the fifth inning, Ohio State can look back to this game if a game separates the team from another Big Ten championship or Tournament bye.

With Drew Rucinski now the Saturday starter, it is going to take another start or two for him to fully be transitioned into a starter. He does have start experience in the Valley League, but being a starter against the aluminum as well as the fact he started the year as a closer, it will take sometime to adjust.

Eventually he will need to be stretch, but I don't agree with Coach Todd's decision to make Saturday that time. Coming into he game Rucinski had not thrown more than six innings in any appearance. After getting through a rocky seventh inning, with Eric Best warmed up in the bullpen and a 4-3 lead intact, the time would have been ideal to make the call to the pen.

Well it didn't happen. After recording two quick outs, a towering shot to deep center eluded Stephens at the wall. While an error was called on the play, a pretty spectacular play would have been needed to catch the ball inches from the wall as it appeared Stephens was battling the sun in tracking it. Either way Indiana had a runner in scoring position.

Still no call to the bullpen.

After a walk, a comebacker by Dylan Swift to Rucinski appeared to signal the end of the threat, until Rucinski overthrew Ryan Dew at first, scoring Early from second, tying the game. Then Best was called and ended the inning.

The Buckeyes would have two chances to counter and win the game, the best coming in the bottom of the eighth when Burkhart reached on an error to leadoff the inning. However instead of letting you're top power threat swing away, Stephens sacrifice went for naught as Burkhart was thrown out at second.

After a scoreless ninth, one pitch into the 10th saw Early take Best deep to leftcenter for the gamewinning run. IU tacked on one more to win 6-4.

Thoughts from the game:
*Rucinski pitched well, more than good enough to win. If he can duplicate his performance throughout the season the Buckeyes are back on the Regional path.
*While I don't agree with leaving him out there, into the 8th Rucinski still had pretty good velocity, and now you feel comfortable taking him into the seventh.
*The defense is still an issue. Stephens had one in the 3rd that led to an unearned run.
*The choice to have Stephens bunt is equally as puzzling as leaving Rucinski out. While dropping a delayed bunt on the first or second pitch would not have been bad as te IU third baseman was playing deep, with a not-so-fleet of foot Burkhart at first, and not moving, to show bunt I don't agree with.

Game 3
Score by Innings R H E
Indiana............. 100 310 201 - 8 10 1
Ohio State.......... 401 032 00X - 10 13 2
WP: Wolosiansky (3-3) LP: Stadler (3-3) S: Minium (3)
HR: Stephens (8), Dickerson (13), Early (6), Lyon (7)

Another not so pretty Sunday, two errors, 10 hits allowed, nearly loding a five-run lead, but the Bucks did what was needed to in picking up a weekend series.

I was not on hand for the game so here's a box score, and hopefully someone can provide insight into what they saw. I'm not going to insult you by adding a few sentence fom the box.

Player ab r h rbi bb so po a lob
Hurley lf 5 0 3 0 0 0 4 0 0
Kovanda 2b 5 0 2 0 0 0 1 3 2
Burkhart c 5 1 0 0 0 1 4 1 1
Stephens cf 4 3 2 1 1 2 2 0 0
Dew 1b 2 3 0 0 2 1 11 0 0
Rupert 3b 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 3 0
DeLucia rf 3 1 3 4 0 0 2 0 0
Griffin rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Streng dh 4 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 1
Engle ss 4 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 4
Wolosiansky p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Minium p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 35 10 13 8 4 5 27 10 8

Ohio State ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np
Wolosiansky W,3-3 6.0 6 5 4 3 3 1 0 1 0 24 29 9 6 93
Minium 3.0 4 3 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 13 14 3 4 40

Three Thoughts
It is GREAT to have a weekend where just five pitchers are used. Without a midweek game, everyone will have a week's rest going into an important series in East Lansing.

It is time for Todd to adjust the order. DeLucia's bat is being squandard being slotted seventh. Few RBI chances for the player who LEADS the team in RBI. While you don't want to react too hastly after 0-for-weekends, Burkhart has struggled all season as the 3-hole hitter, sliding him down will not hurt. Same with Dew who provides too many singles, not enough XBH and little speed to hit infront of DeLucia and Rupert who continue to put the ball in play at a high clip. It took some time to slide Gus down last year, and Zoeller up in 2007, but another move needs made.

While the weather wasn't great Friday night, it was gorgeous on Saturday and Sunday making it really sad to not see Ohio State crack 2K in attendance once this weekend.

Weekend Honor Roll
Alex Wimmers: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 14 K, 0 BB
Zach Hurley: 7-for-14, R, RBI
Brian DeLucia: 5-for-12, 4 R, 8 RBI, HR
Cory Kovanda: 6-for-12, 2 RBI
Michael Stephens: 4-for-11, 5 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR
Drew Ruciski: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K

Where We Stand

Big Ten
Team Record Pct. Record Pct.
1. Michigan State 4-2 .667 22-6 .786
Ohio State 4-2 .667 19-9 .679
Michigan 4-2 .667 18-11 .621
4. Illinois 3-3 .500 13-13 .500
Iowa 3-3 .500 12-16 .429
Minnesota 3-3 .500 13-19 .406
Northwestern 3-3 .500 9-21 .300
8. Purdue 2-4 .333 15-14 .517
Indiana 2-4 .333 15-15 .500
Penn State 2-4 .333 13-17 .433

RPI: 90 (Warren Nolan)

Next Up:
April 16th-18th @ Michigan State

That's all from the Weekend Wrap. I'll have more coming this week without a midweek game including a mid-season report card, a player feature, and news from tomorrow's media practice.

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