Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ohio's college baseball drain

Not even Nick Swisher can put a cheery spin on the 2013 Ohio college baseball season.

The NCAA Division I baseball tournament begins Friday at 16 sites across the country. None of those sites are in Ohio.

The state has just one representative in the 64-team field: Bowling Green. The Falcons aren't a threat to win the Louisville Regional. They improved to 24-29 by winning the Mid-American Conference tournament last weekend. Bowling Green's RPI rating ranks 202nd out of 298 Division I programs.

Swisher's college program, Ohio State, has the highest RPI among Ohio's Division I programs. The Buckeyes are No. 63, but they failed to receive an NCAA at-large spot following a 1-2 showing in the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State played an ambitious non-conference schedule and finished 2013 with a 35-23 record. Too many whiffs against quality opponents left Ohio State sour on Selection Monday.

A slow start and injuries doomed 2012 College World Series participant Kent State. The Golden Flashes, ranked No. 88 in the RPI, went 36-23. So much for 2012 producing immediate momentum.

Ohio's other Division I programs -- Xavier (32-26, RPI 111), Toledo (25-33, 181), Miami (26-30, 183), Cincinnati (23-32, 234), Akron (15-37, 245), Youngstown State (14-42, 269), Ohio (14-39, 278) and Dayton (11-38, 280) -- failed to crack the RPI top 100.

The state didn't fare much better at the Division II and III levels. No Ohio school reached the final eight in either division. Marietta won the Division III World Series in 2011 and '12.

The state's draft prospect also appear grim. It's unlikely anybody from an Ohio college will be selected in the first round.

Kent State pitcher Tyler Skulina is the state's highest rated prospect, according to Baseball America. The venerable publication ranks Skulina as this year's 73rd best prospect. Only five other Ohio college players are ranked among the publication's top 500 draft-eligible prospects.

In short, there are no Nick Swishers in the state this year. Swisher was drafted 16th overall by the Oakland A's after leading Ohio State to the NCAA tournament.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy


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