Those who followe my twitter know, but I have had a bit of a family issue with my mother having a tumor and ultimately surgery on the 26 of the month, it's thrown a fell things in loop of late, work hours, financial priorities, actual desire to write, but I'm back for now.
As the weather finally feels a bit like spring, unfortunately the season is in its final stages, in little over two weeks from now the Big Ten will have its representative for the NCAA tournament and nine other schools will be looking at 2012. So as we are in these final weekends, the importance of the games magnify and unfortunately for the Bucks the heat and pressure kicks up a bit with tonight's 7-0 loss to Iowa (8-11, 19-27).
Late last night I had this thought that I shared on twitter:
"Should probably feel more concerned than I do for OSU, only 2 games clear of 8th and the pitching of Iowa & Minnesota could give team fits"
Any coach and player will tell you that you never assume wins, but with three at home, where you're 7-2 in the Big Ten, versus the ninth team in the conference, you perhaps feel a bit too comfortable looking towards the Big Ten tournament.
Well that changes in a hurry.
With today's results around the Big Ten, mainly Indiana beating Michigan State and Penn State knocked off Minnesota, Ohio State is tied for fourth with Illinois, who lost to Purdue, at 10-9, just one game above the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions who are tied for sixth. Making the situation all the more dicey is that Ohio State would lose the first tiebreaker to Illinois, Indiana, and Penn State as the Bucks went 0-3 in those weekend series.
Yikes. Consider concerned.
The second part of the tweet came to fruition, if only for one night, as Jarred Hippen proved the best of the Big Ten arms have yet to strike the Buckeyes.
I considered Hippen one of the top three pitchers in the conference going into the season, though I would give my preseason top pitching honor to Minnesota's TJ Oakes, OSU next Friday night opponent, thought Hippen was right there. He showed some pretty nasty stuff in last year's Big Ten Tournament in Bill Davis Stadium. Tonight he provided an encore.
Hippen tossed a complete game as he struck out five, walked just two, and surrendered just three hits off Ohio State bats.
With Hippen being brilliant against a suddenly cold lineup, Ohio State starter Drew Rucinski received his first loss in Big Ten play of the season. In fact the loss tonight was the first in conference play by an Ohio State #1 on a Friday in over three years.
Rucinski wasn't horrible, 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, and 5 SO, but for the second week in a row he wasn't on his best which had him enter tonight as the Big Ten leader in ERA at 2.54.
The problems tonight were far from solely on Rucinski as again just three hits were collected in support of him, a total that was nearly matched by the two errors, one by Ryan Cypret and Brian DeLucia each.
There is more to be discussed and talked about, but I must hop off as I have to work tomorrow starting at 7 a.m. to get hours in before tomorrow's 3:05 p.m. game two start. I did want to briefly return, even if it was in a post that isn't the norm of me with the subjectivity and openness of thoughts of it.
Ohio State will honor the 1991 and 2001 Big Ten Championship teams as they look to even the weekend series and stay in the to six. The Buckeye Diamond Club, the booster program of Ohio State baseball, will hold its annual cookout with donations going towards the program.
The recap and box score from Ohio State athletics can be found here.
And lastly, a tip of the cap to Rucinski who made his final start in Bill Davis Stadium tonight. The native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma has done a lot for the program in various roles these four seasons, and hopefully he has one more start in Columbus.