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Last updated: 05/23/2011 10:05 AM

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Baseball - Tennis
Baseball Buckeyes Clinch Post-Season Berth, Men’s Tennis to NCAA Semifinals
Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There haven’t been a stockpile of them in the year 2011, but this past weekend was a great one to be a Buckeye.

Amidst the turmoil surrounding Jim Tressel and the Ohio State football program, two of the school’s other sports gave fans something to celebrate over the weekend.

In the first year under new head coach Greg Beals, the OSU baseball team clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament by rallying to win the last two games at Minnesota after dropping the first of a three-game set.

The No.-4 seed Buckeyes will face the No. 5-seed Golden Gophers again on Wednesday (12:05 p.m. ET) at Huntington Bank Park in downtown Columbus, and by then the fourth-ranked Ohio State men’s tennis team could be playing for a national championship.

On the heels of Ohio State’s national title in men’s volleyball, the tennis team followed suit with a 4-2 victory over No. 5 Baylor Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship at the Taube Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif.

The Buckeyes (34-2) advance to the semifinals for the second time in three years, where they will play top-ranked Virginia on Monday (3 p.m. ET) for a chance to go back to the national title game for the first time since 2009.

“It was a competitive match and an emotional win,” said Ohio State coach Ty Tucker, who has a 29-11 record in the NCAA tournament.

“Now we have to get ready to face the No. 1 team in the nation, Virginia.”

Tucker led the Buckeyes to their first ever national title game in 2009 with a 4-3 victory over UCLA in the semifinals. Their 4-1 loss to the Trojans in the final has them hungry for another shot at the championship.

Freshman Blaz Rola, the nation’s fourth-ranked player, clinched the victory over Baylor on court one with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win vs. John Peers. Rola fought off multiple match points and more than 10 break points in the win. 

After falling behind by one match in the doubles session, Rola and Balazs Novak tied things back up in the doubles contest with an 8-3 win over Julien Bley and Kike Grangeiro. It was the 11th consecutive match victory for Rola and Novak, who improved to 16-1 on the season.

In the final doubles match, Chase Buchanan and Shuhei Uzawa mounted a huge comeback against the nation’s 52nd ranked team, Sergio Ramirez and Jordan Rux, to win 8-6. The deciding portion of the match came with the Buckeye duo trailing 5-4 and Baylor serving. Buchanan and Uzawa then broke the Baylor pair’s serve to tie the match at 6-6 before clinching the point by winning the final two games.

Heroics on the Diamond

While there is certainly more excitement surrounding the tennis team’s run at a national title, the baseball team’s run to the Big Ten Tournament might actually be a little impressive. The Buckeyes looked to be dead in the water after losing their first game at Minnesota 3-2 in dramatic fashion.

They would need to win one of the next two to have a chance at making the 6-team tournament, and both if they wanted to lock up anything but the sixth and final seed.

Ohio State had a chance to take home the first game of Thursday’s double-header behind a solid pitching performance from ace Drew Rucinski, but the Gophers scored the winning run in the ninth on a single that ricocheted off of shortstop Tyler Engle and into centerfield.

That could have been the end for Ohio State, who missed the Big Ten Tournament last season for the first time in 15 years. Instead, the Buckeyes rallied for a 5-1 victory in game-two of the double-header behind a solid outing from Brett McKinney.

The right-hander gave them six strong innings, surrendering just one run on four hits while striking out five before giving way to the bullpen. Theron Minium, Jared Strayer and closer Josh Dezse shut them out the rest of the way, setting up a huge game on Friday.

Once again it would be the pitching that delivered for Ohio State. Freshman Greg Greve tossed a career-high eight scoreless innings while Dezse blasted a two-run home run into the left-center field bleachers to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning.

Dezse came on in the ninth and worked around a two-out double to earn his fifth save of the season, propelling the Buckeyes back into the post-season after a one-year lull.
“It feels great to throw well for the team,” said Greve, a 6-3 right-hander from Cleveland’s Walsh Jesuit High School.

“Our goal all season has been to make the tournament and I'm happy that I was able to put the team in a position to win.”

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