10 numbers to know before Ohio plays in the NCAA Tournament

Many things about Ohio’s historic worst-to-first season can’t be expressed in numbers.

The positive, “something good is about to happen” attitude and general restored confidence are things that happen with the help of strong leadership and perseverance.

Now the baseball program returns to a place that nobody on the roster has been before, the NCAA Tournament — with the last invitation 18 years ago.

But that’s not to say that numbers can’t tell a good story here, and the stories to be told looking at this team are seemingly limitless. So limitless, in fact, that it’s hard to narrow down the important ones.

But The Post tried its best, so in no particular order, here are 10 important numbers to know as Ohio (36-19) enters its NCAA Regional Tournament this Friday.



This seems like as good a place to start as any, as it’s the last year Ohio won the Mid-American Conference tournament and notched an NCAA Tournament berth. The Bobcats defeated Kent State 7-6 in the Mid-American Conference title game that year to clinch a berth to the NCAA Mideast regional in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where they fell to UCLA and Tennessee to get eliminated from the tournament. It was the only MAC title won by Joe Carbone in his 24 years as Ohio’s coach. The 1997 team is also the only one in program history to win more games than the 2015 team, finishing with 43 victories.

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The place Ohio was predicted to finish in the MAC East this season in the preseason coaches poll. This prediction came after the Bobcats’ 11-40 record a season ago, which was the worst season in program history, and also netted Ohio a last-place finish in the conference. A third-straight season in last place wasn’t in the cards for the Bobcats, however, as they finished in second place in the East division after posting a 17-10 conference record, just one game behind Kent State.



The number of runs scored by Ohio this season, good for 6.36 a game. That’s a torrid offensive pace to keep up for 55 game season, and all the more impressive when considering that this is the same team that scored just 192 runs in 2014, just 3.76 a game. The Bobcats scored a good chunk of those runs in the first six games of the season, when they reeled off 66 runs in the first two series.



The starting pitching ERA for the Bobcats this season. That figure may seem fairly pedestrian, but considering where the state of the starting pitching staff a few weeks into the season, this is a very welcome stat for Ohio coaches. Entering Easter weekend’s Buffalo series, this staff had a starters’ ERA of 6.11. Starting with that series, the Bobcats have turned the corner, holding their ERA down at 3.19. Over the last 12 games, it stands at 2.39. In other words, the staff is pitching at its absolute best at the most important time of the season.

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The number of career hits by Jake Madsen, which has long since blown past the program record of 269 formerly held by Ben Crabtree. For the fourth straight year, Madsen has been a centerpiece in Ohio’s lineup, spending most of the year in the cleanup spot and putting together a .321 batting average with three home runs, while his 16 doubles, three triples, and 48 RBIs all stand as team-highs.



The Ohio-best batting average held by Mitch Longo. Longo, Ohio’s best hitter, has hit seven home runs, a team-high, along with his slugging (.500) and on-base (.424) percentages. Looking at those numbers, it’s no surprise this guy was selected as the MAC Player of the Year. Longo was held to just 4-for-15 in the MAC tournament, but he’s still a very underrated player on the national platform, and the further Ohio advances, the more heads he’s going to turn.


The ERA of Logan Cozart, Ohio’s closer/long-reliever/all-purpose outs machine on the mound, good for ninth-best in all of college baseball. Longo wasn’t the only one taking home awards in the MAC this season, as Cozart also took home the MAC’s Pitcher Of The Year award. Cozart wasn’t on many people’s radars a year ago, after he finished his second straight season with an ERA of over six out of Ohio’s bullpen -- not much of a surprise since, three years ago, Cozart wasn’t even a pitcher. He was an infielder, starting 21 games for Ohio and batting .301. But 2015 has been a much different story. Seven wins, a .144 opponent batting average, 79 strikeouts and 30 appearances are all team-bests. Oh, and he set a single season record for saves this year and was named the MAC tournament MVP. He’s decent.

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The number of home runs Ohio has hit in 2015. It’s not a huge number -- good for just fourth in the MAC alone. But it’s a good number to look at when considering just how much pop -- and therefore, game-changing ability -- Ohio has put into its lineup this year. Last year, it hit just seven home runs as a team. Now, home runs around college baseball are up because of the new flat-seam baseball, with early figures reporting a 40% increase in dingers. But that’s a 40% national increase; not 400% in the case of Ohio. The Bobcats showcased that big-time power in the MAC tournament, hitting eight home runs over the last three games, including three in one inning in their extra-inning battle with Western Michigan.



The number of games in which Ohio has allowed double-digit runs. Again, big deal, right? Yes, it super is. The Bobcats had 14 of those games last year and 15 such games two years ago with, again, a very similar pitching staff. This indicates that Ohio has been able to shut the door on big innings before they happen much more often than they have in the past. Ohio has also scored in double digits 11 times, compared with a combined eight times in 2013 and 2014, which means the Bobcats are biting teams in a big way without letting those teams bite back.

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The number of hits given up by Connor Sitz when he pitched the MAC tournament’s first ever no-hitter Saturday morning, and Ohio’s first ever no-hitter against a Division I team. Sitz entered the game with a .301 opponent’s batting average and was coming off an outing in which he allowed six runs to Miami in just two innings of work, causing him to get demoted from second to third in the rotation. Sitz has been the ace, second and third pitcher in this rotation at different points in the season, so he’s had quite the roller-coaster of a campaign. Ohio was already confident heading into its final two days of the MAC tournament, but after Sitz’s no-no, there wasn’t a team in the country that was going to send this team home Sunday.





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