Ohio State baseball: Bucks open B1G play with sweep

The Buckeyes began their quest to a B1G title with a 3-0 weekend - Chris Webb

The Buckeyes (15-6, 3-0) opened Big Ten play with a weekend sweep of Purdue. Outscoring the Boilermakers 25-4, Ohio State dominated the reigning Big Ten champions in kicking off their pursuit of a conference championship.

Ohio State's last road Big Ten sweep occurred in 2009 when the Buckeyes took all three games from Purdue in West Lafayette. That season ended with Ohio State atop the Big Ten standings. Will 2013 bear the same fortune? After dismantling the reigning conference champs, Ohio State appears set to take aim at that goal.

Game 19 10-1, W

In the conference opener, 2012 All-Big Ten First-team selection Jaron Long (4-1, 2.13) was in top form. The junior right-handed pitcher cruised through eight innings tossing 98 pitches, 70 strikes, as he held the Boilermakers to one run off five hits, striking out four bats without issuing a walk.

Senior shortstop Kirby Pellant hit his first career home run, as he led the Buckeyes with three runs scored. Junior outfielder Tim Wetzel led the team with four RBI in a two-for-three, two walk, afternoon, collecting a double and a triple. Senior first baseman Brad Hallberg provided another multi-hit game with a two-for-four, two RBI, two run effort.

Game 20 8-3, W

The Buckeyes were able to weather a rocky start from senior right-hander Brad Goldberg in clinching the series. Though improving to 3-0 on the season, Goldberg issued six walks in five innings. The spotty command did not come back to bite the righty as Goldberg (3-0, 1.56) held Purdue to one run off two hits.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Ryan Riga pitched the final four innings, earning his first save of his Buckeye career with a two-hit, two-run, two-strikeout outing.

Offensively the Buckeyes were led at the plate by Pellant, who had a career day with a four-for-four outing. As the Buckeyes hammered out a season high 17 hits, freshman Jacob Bosiokovic and senior Ryan Cypret joined Hallberg as members of the Scarlet and Gray with three-hit afternoons.

Game 21 7-0, W

With a winter storm scheduled to carry through Indiana on Sunday, the Bucks and Boilermakers played a double header on Saturday to conclude the series. Through seven innings the teams were locked in a pitcher's duel before the Buckeyes added two runs in the eighth and pounded out four runs in the ninth.

Senior left-handed pitcher Brian King (4-2, 2.43) had the finest outing of his Ohio State career. Helping the Buckeyes to their second shutout of the season, King needed only 70 pitches to complete eight innings. Scattering only three hits, the southpaw was masterful in an eight-strikeout performance. Sophomore Trace Dempsey, who is tied for third in the NCAA with seven saves, closed his 10th game of the season with a perfect ninth inning.

With a 2-for-4 nightcap, Hallberg finished the weekend with a multi-hit effort in each contest. Senior Joe Ciamacco and Wetzel each added a pair of hits. Junior outfielder Pat Porter led the club with three hits in five at-bats as he drove in two runs.

"I think we’re developing an identity on the offensive side of the ball as to how we’re going to hit and score runs" -Greg Beals

It's great to sweep the weekend to be 3-0 in the conference," Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. "More than anything, I just like how we’re playing baseball. We’re pitching well, throwing strikes, playing good defense and getting timely hits. We didn’t commit an error all weekend and I think we’re developing an identity on the offensive side of the ball as to how we’re going to hit and score runs."

Series stats

  • The Buckeyes did not commit an error over the three games.
  • Long hasn’t walked a batter in his last 23.0 innings pitched dating back to the second inning against Harvard. He’s allowed just two earned runs while striking out 12 in 24.0 innings pitched over his last three starts.
  • Ohio State starting pitchers allowed just two earned runs on 21.0 innings pitched against the Boilermakers.

  • The Buckeyes used only three relievers over the three games.

  • The pitching staff posted a 1.33 ERA for the weekend and allowed Purdue to hit just .144

  • Ohio State batted .334 for the weekend.

B1G's best

With a 6-for-9, seven RBI weekend that included a double, home run and 1.880 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, Pellant was named the Big Ten's Player of the Week. The weekly honor is the sixth for the Buckeyes through six weeks, a tally that leads the Big Ten. Pellant joins sophomore catcher Aaron Gretz as Big Ten Player of the Week selections, Jacob Bosiokovic and Troy Kuhn have received freshman of the week honors while senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg has captured a pair of top pitcher honors.

Nation's best

After the dominating weekend in West Lafayette, the Buckeyes are among the best in the nation in a bevy of pitching categories.

ERA: 2.35 (10th)

Hits per nine innings: 7.10 (12th)

Walks per nine innings: 2.73 (31st)

WHIP: 1.09 (11th)

Strikeout-to-walk ratio: 2.69 (29th)

Receiving votes

In this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30, the Buckeyes received votes. Indiana is the lone Big Ten team ranked, checking in at No. 24.

As one of the twenty teams listed in alphabetical order that received votes in the NCBWA poll, it would be accurate to call Ohio State a top-50 team. Boyd's World currently has the Buckeyes with an RPI of 53. While that would place Ohio State on the edge of the bubble regarding an at-large berth, we're still two-to-three weeks away from RPI rankings having merit. But it is still good to see the Buckeyes in a favorable position before the calendar turns to April.

What's next

Mother Nature forced the cancellation of Ohio State's midweek games. Instead of playing host to Toledo on Tuesday, traveling to Athens on Wednesday, the Buckeyes have a rested bullpen going into this weekend's home series against Michigan State. The 2012 Palo Alto Regional pariticpants are 13-7, yet to play a Big Ten game, currently with an RPI of 36.

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