Ohio State jumped out to an 11-1 lead through four innings and then cruised to a 14-6 victory over Minnesota to win the seventh Big Ten tournament championship in school history. The win sends the Buckeyes to the NCAA tournament for the 17th time in the history of the program and the 11th time under 18th-year head coach Bob Todd.
The championship was the third for the Buckeyes in the last four years matching their conference record. Ohio State won in 2002 and 2003 against Minnesota and previously had won in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
Matt Angle (Fr., Whitehall, Ohio/Whitehall-Yearling) led off the Buckeye first with a single through the right side and reached second on a fielding error by Minnesota rightfielder Mike Mee. Mike Rabin (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) beat out a bunt single down the first base line to send Angle to third. Gopher starter Cole DeVries then walked Steve Caravati (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) to load the bases. Ronnie Bourquin (So., Canton, Ohio/Canton South) grounded into a double play though Angle was able to score. Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy) followed with a single up the middle to plate Rabin and give the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Four more Buckeye runs scored in the second as Ohio State sprinted out to a 6-0 lead. Jedidiah Stephen (Jr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) led off the inning with an infield single and went to second on a ground out by Eric Fryer (Fr., Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg). Angle followed with the first triple of his career to plate Stephen before DeVries hit Rabin to put runners on the corners for Caravati, who launched his fifth home run of the season and second of the tournament to give the Buckeyes a four-run inning. The home run was the 26th of his career, which is tied for 15th most by a Buckeye.
Joe Maciej, who sank the Buckeyes' hope of clinching the title Saturday night with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift Minnesota to a 4-3 win, went yard off the top of the fence in right in his first at bat Sunday to put Minnesota on the board in the top of the third inning.
The Buckeyes got the run back though in the bottom of the inning off of Josh Oslin, who started the inning in place of DeVries. Wes Schirtzinger (So., Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) bounced a ball over the third baseman's head to get on base with one out. Stephen doubled to the right-field corner and Schirtzinger was able to score Schirtzinger from first.
Four runs came across in the fourth as the Buckeyes built an 11-1 lead. Rabin led off with a single to right and went to second when Caravati drew his second walk of the game. Both runners moved into scoring position on the first sacrifice bunt of the season by Bourquin. Rabin scored on a fielder's choice by Schirtzinger. Schirtzinger stole second and scored along with Caravati on a ground-rule double by Stephen to left-center field. Paul Farinacci (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) plated Stephen with a single through the right side to build a 10-run lead.
The Gophers added a pair of runs in the fifth inning Maciej doubled to the gap in right-center with one out and after a walk by Luke MacLean, scored on a single to left-center by Matt Fornasiere. Jake Elder drove in MacLean with a single up the middle to pull within an 11-3 score.
Another Buckeye run crossed the plate in the fifth as they were able to extend their lead to nine runs, 12-3. Rabin singled through the left side and then scored on a triple by Caravati, who bounced a ball off the top of the fence in right field and rounded second when the ball caromed back in play. The triple was Caravati's 13th as a Buckeye, which ties the school record set last year by Drew Anderson.
Fornasiere homered in the seventh to pull within a 12-4, but the Buckeyes scored twice more in the bottom of the inning. Rabin singled to shallow left-center and then went to third on a single to left by Caravati and scored when Golden Gopher leftfielder misplayed the ball. Caravati moved to third on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Zoeller to build a 14-4 lead. Caravati's hit was his 14th of the tournament, a conference tournament record.
Minnestoa scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth and added another run in the top of the ninth to close within the eight-run final.
Rabin went 4-for-4 and scored five times, while Caravati went 3-for-3 and knocked in four runs while score three times. The Buckeyes pounded out 17 hits to two by Minnesota.
DeLucia got the win to improve to 5-5 on the year. He went five innings and allowed three runs on five hits and struck out two and walked two. He was spelled by Mike Madsen (Sr., Canfield, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) in the sixth. He went three innings and allowed two runs on three hits. Brett Hatcher (Sr., Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) pitched the final inning. Cole DeVries got the loss to fall to 3-6 on the season.
DeLucia (pitcher), Caravati (outfielder), Angle (outfielder) and Schirtzinger (designated hitter) earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team and Caravati was named the Most Outstanding player of the Big Ten tournament.
Ohio State, winners of 19 of its last 22 games, improved to 39-18 on the season and Minnesota fell to 33-29.
Both championship games of the Big Ten tournament between Ohio State and Minnesota will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by CSTV. The first championship game will be broadcast Monday at 7 p.m., EDT and the second championship game will be broadcast by the network Monday at 10 p.m., EDT.
The NCAA will announce the field of 64 that advance to the NCAA tournament Monday at 11:30 a.m., EDT on ESPN.