Around the Oval is Eleven Warriors' weekly love letter to Ohio State sports that don't get the coverage they should.
Having already dominated the regular season, it was a safe bet to assume that the Ohio State men's tennis team would get the job done in the Big Ten Tournament, especially with it being played on their home turf. Of course, we all know what can happen when we make assumptions, but this one proved prophetic: After three 4-0 wins against Purdue, Illinois and Michigan, the Buckeyes were once again Big Ten champs.
Both the Boilermakers and Illini were dispatched in quick fashion to set up a final against the Wolverines, Ohio State's final regular season opponents only a week earlier. That Sunday in Ann Arbor saw identical doubles results as the final in Columbus, with the Buckeye teams of Peter Kobelt/Connor Smith and Blaz Rola/Kevin Metka earning their team yet another doubles point. Singles competition also produced a similar outcome, with Constantin Christ the only different winner from seven days before.
The tournament victory is Ohio State's seventh in eight years, and it punches their ticket to the 2013 NCAA Championships. As the tournament's No. 5 seed, the Buckeyes can host the first two rounds, and their first opponent is Cleveland State. They'll host the Vikings next Friday at 1 p.m., and should they progress, they'll meet either Notre Dame or Washington the next day.
In addition to the team competition, three Buckeyes will compete in the NCAA individual championships at the end of the month. Blaz Rola and Peter Kobelt will represent the team in the singles category, while Kobelt and Connor Smith are the team's representatives in the doubles.
A perfect 5-0 week sent the Ohio State baseball team into the final month of regular season play in the best position possible: a season-high, seven-game win streak.
First on the agenda was three visits from Big Ten cellar-dweller Penn State. On Friday, Ohio State sent Brad Goldberg to the dish and got 6⅓ of one-run baseball. He was pulled after a wild pitch led to the Nittany Lions scoring their first run. Reliever David Fathalikhani entered with the tying run on third and only one out, but a strikeout and groundout meant the hosts escaped with the lead still in tact as they won, 3-1.
The first game of Saturday's doubleheader seemed over after only four innings as a seven-run fourth for the Buckeyes added to the three runs they plated in the second. Pat Porter and Jacob Bosiokovic both drove in two runs before a throwing error and a Tim Wetzel two-run homer meant Ohio State already looked out of reach. Penn State pulled to within five in the top of the ninth when closer Trace Dempsey was brought in with the bases loaded. He fanned Penn State's J.C. Coban for the second out, but a bases-clearing double kept the improbable comeback alive. Things looked shakier once Dempsey's wild pitch moved the runner to second, but the game was settled after he struck out the final batter, giving Ohio State the 10-8 win.
Saturday's second game remained scoreless until the fourth when the Buckeye Zach Ratliff's solo homer got things going. The next inning saw Ohio State score four more, all while starter Jaron Long held the Nittany Lions to three runs in 7⅓. Three runs in the bottom of the eighth ensured the 8-3 win that clinched the weekend sweep for the Scarlet & Gray.
On Wednesday, Northern Kentucky visited Columbus for a doubleheader, and they went punch-for-punch with the Buckeyes in the first game until a throwing error in the seventh gave the home team their final run as they won, 9-8. Another close game followed in the evening, and again it was the late show from Ohio State: yet another defensive error from the Norse allowing the Buckeyes to win 6-5 in walk-off fashion.
Although they're only fourth in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have the most conference wins with 12, and they travel to Evanston this weekend for three crucial games against Northwestern. After that they host Georgia Tech on Tuesday and Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium.
success Begins at home
It was also a busy week for the Buckeye softball team, whose five home games began with three against Minnesota. Pitcher Alex DiDomenico didn't have that bad of an outing, going the all seven innings and allowing only three runs. Unfortunately, her opposite number was even better. Minnesota's Sara Moulton allowed only one hit and no runs to lead her team to a 3-0 win.
With Moulton starting again on Saturday, the Buckeyes looked to get offensive production as early as possible. Evelyn Carrillo did her best to kickstart the effort with an RBI in the first inning. The remaining innings resembled the night before and the Buckeyes scored only one other run while the Gophers came back seven after five. Moulton's 26th win of the season was never in doubt once her team her team scored three in the third to win Game 2, 7-2.
Sunday brought what must've been a sight for sore scarlet eyes: a new Minnesota starter. Without their ace, the Gophers were subjected to a Buckeye onslaught. Ohio State's 18 hits were their highest total of the season, and the 14 runs that accompanied them were more than enough to secure a sole victory in the series. Three RBI from Carrillo and Shelby Pickett highlighted the eight Buckeyes who drove in a run. Even a late appearance from Moulton didn't deter the home team from scoring five runs with her on the mound, as they won, 14-6, in six innings.
The Buckeyes then played their final two home games of the season in a doubleheader against Wright State on Wednesday. Both were much more straightforward than their weekend conference games, and both resulted in 4-0 Buckeye wins. Melanie Nichols and DiDomenico got the wins for Ohio State, making sure their home schedule ended on a high. The team finishes their regular season this weekend in Champaign with three games against Illinois.
Finger Lake Victories
Meanwhile, it's also tournament time in men's lacrosse. The ECAC is holding their tournament this week in Geneva, New York, situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes (and also home to the world's second-best Geneva-on-the-lake). The Ohio State men's lacrosse came into the competition on a high after they beat ended their regular season with a 14-8 home win over Fairfield. The Stags and Buckeyes produced three even quarters, and were tied at seven heading into the final stanza. That's when the home team broke things open. Seven unanswered goals to start the quarter meant the No. 13 Buckeyes had their 10th win of the year and their fourth on the bounce.
Attentions turned to the conference tournament, and the Buckeyes began in the semifinal last night against No. 4 Loyola Maryland, one of the three teams to beat Ohio State this season. Although the Buckeyes led 3-2 after one quarter, the Greyhounds responded with five in the second to take a 7-6 advantage into halftime. The teams shared eight goals in the third quarter, meaning the Buckeyes needed another big fourth quarter.
Once again, the men in Scarlet & Gray performed in the vital moments. Within two minutes they were already ahead by one thanks to two goals from scoring machine Logan Schuss. Jesse King — who already had two goals — scored two more, and Loyola simply had no answer for the Bucks. They added four more just for good measure, and the 18-11 comeback win was complete.
Denver beat Fairfield in the other semifinal, meaning the Buckeyes will have to play one of the other teams that beat them during the regular season in the final. The championship is tomorrow at 4 p.m., and if you'd like to watch it's being broadcast on Fox Sports affiliates.