Buckeyes winners despite loss to Georgia Tech
By John Porentas
The Buckeyes weren't sharp on the mound, in the field, or at the plate in game one of their two-game series with Georgia Tech, and it showed on the scoreboard. The Buckeyes took some lumps and ended up on the short side of a 9-2 score that lowered their season record to 32-15 while the Yellow Jacket improved to 30-18.
OSU Head Coach Greg Beals was not terribly happy with the outcome, but he wasn't exactly ready to give up on his ball club either.
"Today is no worse than four of the six Big Ten friday nights we had. We'll see how we respond and come back tomorrow before we start judging where we're at," said Beals.
That, according to Beals, is exactly why the Yellow Jackets on the schedule. They currently are ranked No. 22 in the latest college RPI. As a matter of fact, OSU's next three opponents are all ranked in the top-25. Louisville is ranked 24, Indiana 14, and Oregon 8, making this stretch of games a real measuring stick for the Buckeyes, and that's exactly what Beals was hoping for when he made the schedule.
"The strategy was year-three, program development, lets see where we're at. We have the opportunity to bring in this caliber (of opponent)," said Beals. .
"We are absolutely preparing ourselves to play at a national level, and if you're going to do that, you need to go test those waters. That's what we're doing."
People around the country have noticed OSU's aggressive scheduling, and many prognosticators are saying that with it's degree of difficulty at the end of the season, the Buckeye could qualify for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with as few as three wins in the last nine games - it's that tough .
"Nine games all against top-25 RPI teams to finish up the season. I look at it as opportunity. We have an opportunity to tell everybody in the country that we're ready," said Beals.
"You sharpen your iron in the fire. If we're going to go play in a regional and have success in a regional, then we need to see that (against good competition)," Beals said.
So despite the loss, his young club may yet profit from the experience of seeing just how good they need to be to win against top-flight teams, and also may play their way into a tournament bid in the process.
Beals likes the strategy, but there are limits to how far he will go in order to schedule top teams in non-conference play. That main limit is his insistence that all series be home and home, not just visits to the home fields of the top programs.
"Ohio State, with me as the head coach, is not going to go play anywhere in the country without a return trip. We will not play anybody for any price without a return trip," he said.
"Florida, they want us to come down every year, but they won't return the trip."
OSU concludes its series with No. 22 Georgia Tech in a game beginning at 6:35 on Wednesday. No. 8 Oregon arrives in Columbus for a three-game series beginning Friday. No. 24 Louisville will make single-game appearance on Tuesday before the regular season concludes with that three-game series beginning next Friday vs. No. 12 Indiana. All of those game will be played at Bill Davis Stadium.