Knocking on the door for the last four weeks, Ohio State will enter May as a nationally-ranked baseball team, ending a five-year poll drought with a No. 25 ranking by D1Baseball. Receiving votes in each of the last three week's coaches and National College Baseball Writers Association polls, Ohio State emerges in the Top 25 25 after weekend sweep of Northwestern, setting the stage for a must-see weekend series in Columbus.
At 31-10 on the year, 12-3 in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes entrance into the polls is the culmination of a strong two-week run which has the team riding a seven-game winning streak.
Earning the program's first victory over a top five opponent since a March 24, 2009, a 7-1 win over the University of Miami, Ohio State took down No. 5 Louisville on April 14, 2-0. The Buckeyes continued their winning ways against ranked teams, traveling to Lincoln and taking a critical series against Nebraska, the then No. 25 team in the coaches poll. After dropping the series opener 5-2, Ohio State rebounded with a pair of ten-inning wins, 2-1, and 5-2. Returning to Columbus, the Buckeyes swept a home midweek series against Morehead State, 6-3, 7-0 before turning back the Wildcats over the weekend by scores of 9-2, 6-3 and 5-2.
Receiving their first ranking under head coach Greg Beals, Ohio State becomes the sixth Big Ten ranked this year, joining currently ranked No. 8 Illinois, No. 18 Iowa and No. 20 Maryland. Indiana and Nebraska have also been ranked.
With now a bullet next to their name, Ohio State faces a stiff test in justifying their lofty perch. The Buckeyes welcome the Illini for a three-game set this weekend, a series with conference and national implications. Illinois sits atop the Big Ten at 13-1, 36-6-1 overall, one and one-half game ahead of the third place Ohio State. Both teams are in the discussion to not only make the NCAA Tournament, but host a tournament regional. A weekend victory will help the victor strengthen their resume and show they are worthy of hosting the first round of the tournament.
The NCAA officially recognizes five college baseball polls, the coaches', writers', Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and D1Baseball.com.