Ohio State is hosting Scarlet and Gray Days over the three-day span, a promotion in which the school will try to break attendance standards in four sports. Records of some sort in baseball, men's lacrosse, football and softball are the targets of the effort.
The festivities kick off tonight at 6:35 at Bill Davis Stadium when the Ohio State baseball team hosts Purdue in a critical league showdown. Not only will the third-place Buckeyes, who are 7-4 in the Big Ten, be hosting the Boilermakers, who are in second at 9-3, but OSU will be attempting to break the stadium attendance mark of 5,360, which was set during a game against rival Minnesota in 2002.
Mostly sunny conditions are expected in Columbus on Friday, with temperatures expecting to top out around 80 degrees.
"This is a great time for the good weather to be coming in to try to break this attendance record because we feed off of our home crowd," OSU right fielder Ryan Dew said. "This is going to be a really important series for us anyhow so I think that will just help push us toward more victories."
Ohio State is coming off of a midweek thriller, dropping a 13-12 decision to Louisville that came down to the final at bat. Reserved tickets to baseball are $10, with general admission seats available for $5. Senior citizens get in for $4, students get in for $3, groups of 10 or more can get $2 tickets and those 6 and under get in free.
The real marquee events will take place Saturday in Ohio Stadium, where OSU will attempt to set a national attendance mark in men's lacrosse and a national spring game attendance record for football. Though scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast, the lacrosse game is set to begin at 11 a.m. with the football game to take place afterward at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The game for men's lacrosse is more than publicity stunt; the Buckeyes (8-3) enter ranked 11th in the nation while opponent Denver (9-4) is ranked 17th. Both teams are 3-0 in the Great Western Lacrosse League and will put themselves in the driver's seat for a regular-season championship and possible NCAA tournament berth with a win.
The event was announced during the past football season, with football head coach Jim Tressel noting that a similar event held at Syracuse when he coached there in the 1980s actually helped boost the football spring game's attendance. This time, OSU will be going for the national mark of 52,004 set at the 2007 NCAA semifinals in Baltimore or at least the 20,180 mark for regular-season attendance set at a doubleheader in the city during the 2007 season.
"To tell you the truth, yes, it's starting to build," said senior attacker Kevin Buchanan, who not only leads OSU with 29 goals but is the back-to-back GWLL player of the week. "When it was announced, everyone was like ‘Oh yeah, it's great,' but I don't think the magnitude hit home that we were legitimately playing in the Horseshoe. It's going to be cool, though. It really is."
Ohio State enters on a four-match winning streak that includes a win April 12 over then-No. 8 North Carolina, the first in school history. Ohio State's three losses this year all came in overtime against ranked foes.
"The sky is the limit," Buchanan said. "It really is. I think we're really playing wonderfully. We have great momentum going in. Everything is in front of us."
With a strong finish to the year, Ohio State would be in line to make its first NCAA tournament since 2004.
Head coach Joe Breschi said his team likes to play an aggressive, attacking style, which should play well in front of those seeing the sport for the first time.
"I think we enjoy the fact that we're playing well because we're playing hard, fast and physical," he said. "I think those are the three things that we've really focused on, and from our standpoint the sky is the limit with this group. We've played an up-tempo style of offense."
The football spring game will begin after the squad is able to warm up following the lacrosse game. A traditional celebration of Buckeye pigskin, this year's event will test the Buckeye faithful. Though more than 75,000 fans packed the Horseshoe for last year's game, Ohio State is attempting to break the unofficial national record for a spring contest. In the 102,000 capacity stadium, OSU is hoping to top 92,138 fans, which is the number that took in Alabama's spring game in 2007.
Joint tickets for both events are available at local McDonald's outlets and by reaching the OSU ticket office, and day-of-game sales will be held at the north entrance to Ohio Stadium.
Finally, the Ohio State softball team will get into the act Sunday afternoon when OSU hosts Penn State for a doubleheader at 2 p.m. Though the Buckeyes have hit a bit of a skid of late, the 2007 NCAA tournament qualifying Ohio State squad still enters at 26-17. The Buckeye Field attendance record of 1,175, which was set last year during the NCAA tourney against Cal State-Fullerton, is the target. Admission to Buckeye Field is free.
The university still has a small amount of all admission passes available for $10. Those passes will get fans into all four games, and those who purchase the passes will be entered to win tickets to the football home game against Penn State Oct. 25, which was recently announced as a night game. Those are available by calling 1-800-Go-Bucks or visiting the athletic website at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
Full home athletics schedule for the weekend of April 18-21:
April 18, Softball vs. Michigan at Buckeye Field, 6 p.m.
April 18, Baseball vs. Purdue at Bill Davis Stadium, 6:35 p.m.*
April 19, Rowing vs. Wisconsin and Iowa at Griggs Reservoir, 9 a.m.
April 19, Women's Golf hosting Lady Buckeye Invitational at Scarlet Course
April 19, Men's Lacrosse vs. Denver at Ohio Stadium, 11 a.m.*
April 19, Men's Tennis vs. Penn State at Stickney Tennis Center, Noon
April 19, Softball vs. Michigan at Buckeye Field, 1 p.m.
April 19, Baseball (DH) vs. Purdue at Bill Davis Stadium, 1:05 p.m.
April 19, Football Spring game at Ohio Stadium, approx. 1:30 p.m.*
April 20, Women's Golf hosting Lady Buckeye Invitational at Scarlet Course
April 20, Men's Tennis vs. Michigan at Stickney Tennis Center, Noon
April 20, Women's Lacrosse vs. Penn State at Jesse Owens Stadium, 1 p.m.
April 20, Baseball vs. Purdue at Bill Davis Stadium, 1:05 p.m.
April 20, Softball vs. Penn State (DH) at Buckeye Field, 2 p.m.*
*Attempts to break attendance records