Ohio St. moves on to NCAA super-regional

Sarah Mitchell

Three Big Ten baseball programs entered last weekend in contention for a trip to the College World Series. Only Ohio State is still alive.
Both Minnesota (46-18) and Michigan were ousted in the championship round Sunday. The Gophers were defeated 22-6 by host Baylor, while the Wolverines were dropped 9-4 by Cal State-Fullerton.
The Buckeyes’ season, however, will go on. In front of its home crowd, Ohio State (49-12) swept through the four-team field, beating first-round opponent Bowling Green 4-1 and Mississippi State twice, 6-3 in the second round and 10-7 in the championship game. Ohio State had to come from behind in two of its three games.
The Buckeyes have been chosen to host the next round as well, being selected as one of eight schools to play home to the newly-created super regional round of the NCAA tournament. Cal State-Fullerton travels to Ohio State this weekend for a best-of-three series.
The winner of each super regional advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., June 11-19.
North vs. South
In a press conference following Minnesota’s loss Sunday, Gophers coach John Anderson voiced his concern about the safety of Baylor’s half-finished facility and his belief that Bears coach Steve Smith continued to run up the score after Baylor was clearly on its way to the next round.
Anderson’s frustration didn’t end there, however. The veteran coach raised the issue of the lack of respect for Northern programs.
“I don’t think people realize, schools in the North, how hard we have to work to get here,” Anderson said. “All the advantages are to the Sun Belt because when the season is played the weather is good. They can build the biggest facility, and draw the most people, and have the most money and recruit the best players.
“I know they don’t respect us because we’re from the North, but I’d appreciate it if they could show respect for the schools in the North and how hard our kids have worked and how difficult it is to compete when the playing field is not level across the country.”
Bears pitching ace and designated hitter Jason Jennings and reliever Josh Scott defended Baylor and other Southern teams. Jennings said the difference in talent was merely coincidental.
“I don’t look at it Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western. Minnesota made it to the regional as a two seed, obviously their a good team,” Jennings said. “I look at every team as capable of beating anybody on any day.”
Jennings, the 6-foot-2, 243-pound national player of the year, used Nebraska to prove his point, calling Baylor’s Big XII foe a Northern school. After finishing fifth in regular season conference standings, the Cornhuskers defeated the Bears 4-3 for the conference tournament title.
“Northern schools have made a definite stride as far as college baseball goes,” Jennings said. “I have total respect for them.”
With the exception of Ohio State, all of the 16 teams still in contention for the national title are from the South. Scott said this number was not related to a difference in weather and like Jennings, he respected Northern teams.
“I can understand getting off to a slow start, but they still have the whole season to play with,” Scott said. “Minnesota gave us good competition.”