Buckeyes Chosen For NCAA Tournament

The Ohio State baseball team completed a remarkable turnaround in 2009, going from the least wins in head coach Bob Todd's Hall of Fame tenure to the Big Ten regular-season champions. Now the Buckeyes have earned a new accomplishment: They are an NCAA tournament team. OSU has been selected as the third seed in the Tallahassee, Fla., region and will start play Friday afternoon against Georgia.

The Ohio State baseball team spent much of the season thinking it was an NCAA tournament team. They weren't so sure after the first half of the NCAA selection show on Monday afternoon.

Forty of the field's 64 teams were announced and Ohio State was still on the outside looking in.

"We were all getting a little antsy," catcher and Big Ten Player of the Year Dan Burkhart said.

But finally the good news came when the Buckeyes' name and 40-17 overall record flashed on the television in the players lounge at Bill Davis Stadium. The players erupted in cheers at the news that they would be a No. 3 seed in a regional played Friday through Monday in Tallahassee, Fla.

The short roar was all the emotion showed by the Big Ten regular-season champions. Shortly after the announcement, the Buckeyes filed out knowing that the work toward making a first trip to Omaha for the College World Series in more than four decades was just beginning.

"As long as you see your name, you just try to focus on doing what you can to win," junior second baseman Cory Kovanda said. "No matter who's in it, it's going to be a good regional."

Florida State (42-16), the ACC tourney runner up and Atlantic Division champions, is the top seed in the regional and will host at Dick Howser Stadium, starting its tournament run with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Marist (31-26). OSU's first game in the double-elimination, four-team regional will come against second-seeded Georgia (37-22), which finished third in the SEC Eastern Division.

The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will face off at noon Friday on ESPNU. Ohio State's players said they are still unfamiliar with their possible opponents but expect a challenge.

"All of those Southern schools are always excellent baseball schools," Burkhart said. "We have to come out with our intensity that we've had all year and come out ready to play every pitch."

Ohio State will be attempting to rebound from losing their last two games of the Big Ten tournament, falling to both Indiana in a semifinal and then Minnesota in the losers bracket. Both teams eventually made the NCAA tournament, the Golden Gophers as a No. 2 seed and Indiana, the eventual league champs, as a No. 4.

The Buckeyes' tourney bid is their 19th overall, 13th under head coach Bob Todd and first since 2007 when, as a third seed, OSU went 1-2. Ohio State had the same record in 2005 but swept through its regional at 3-0 in 2003 before losing in the NCAA Super Regional round of 16.

With a wildly successful regular season complete, the Buckeyes said they now turn their attention to that elusive College World Series appearance. There is some precedent; last year's champions, Fresno State, entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed.

"To win it, you have to get in it," Burkhart said. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to first win the Big Ten, then it was to make it to Omaha. The road starts here. We have to be ready to come out and play every game."


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