England Can Get Even Better And It Will Need To

When Eric Dier drove his penalty kick just past the outstretched fingers of Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina and into the back of the net, he broke a 22-year English streak of losing on penalty kicks. The obvious question now is whether England can break a far more important streak that’s lasted even longer: 52 years without winning a World Cup.While every team in the quarterfinals has a nonzero chance of lifting the cup, this question presses on England particularly for two reasons. First, England got a massively fortunate draw. The two powerhouse teams remaining in the tournament, Brazil and France, are both on the opposite side of the bracket. Spain was supposed to block England’s path to the final, but it lost on penalties to Russia. This leaves just Sweden and either Croatia or Russia standing in the way of The Three Lions.And second, it’s not like England had to knock off the world’s best to get here. Drawn into a group with Tunisia and Panama as well as Belgium, England was hugely favored to reach the knockouts. Colombia as a round of 16 draw was difficult on paper, but the absence of superstar James Rodriguez meant that even this match was not against a true equal.According to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index as a measure of the quality of competition,1We used the pre-tournament SPI ratings. Uruguay and Belgium have had the lightest schedule, but each would likely have to get through both Brazil and France to make the final. England has faced the third weakest set of opponents to date, and its run to the final is projected as the second easiest of all the remaining contenders, ever so slightly behind Croatia.2Future opponents’ SPI represents a weighted average of each possible opponent’s SPI in the semifinals and finals and the likelihood of that team advancing that far. These probabilities were taken before the start of play Friday. England’s easy road will remain easyThe eight World Cup quarterfinalists by average SPI of tournament opponents so far and a weighted average of potential future opponents TeamAvg. Opponents’ SPI so farFuture Opponents’ SPI* Wilfried Zaha0.280.56+0.28 Kylian Mbappe0.770.97+0.20 Expected Goals & Assists Per 90 min. Harry Kane0.640.86+0.23 Future opponents’ SPI represents a weighted average of each possible opponent’s SPI in the semifinals and finals and the likelihood of that team advancing that far. France74.082.8 England’s two breakout starsPlayers under age 27 in the big five European leagues who showed the most improvement from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons to 2017-18 in expected goals plus assists Belgium67.885.3 2015-172017-18Difference Russia71.282.6 England70.579.2 The big five are the Premier League (England), Ligue 1 (France), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy) and the Bundesliga (Germany).Source: Opta Sports Mohamed Salah0.721.10+0.38 Raheem Sterling0.600.90+0.31 Willian Jose0.360.58+0.22 Lucas Ocampos0.370.56+0.19 Croatia74.879.2 As manager Gareth Southgate has said, this success in set plays does reflect effective attacking play, forcing opposition teams to give up fouls in dangerous areas. In other words, England is doing a good job of progressing the ball into the final third, and the team is being rewarded with set piece opportunities.However, these tactics do not suit one of England’s best players. England isn’t a legitimate World Cup contender simply because Harry Kane happened. At the same time that Kane was developing into one of soccer’s best pure strikers for Tottenham, Raheem Sterling was making the leap at Manchester City and becoming an elite inside forward. But it’s not just luck for England. As Bobby Gardiner highlighted for FiveThirtyEight, England has developed a legitimately good team with a coherent tactical identity based on pressing immediately after a turnover to win back the ball in dangerous areas.As Gardiner outlined, this tactic was developed in part because most of England’s players ply their trade at some of the highest-pressing sides in the world. But that’s not the only reason: England also lacks a proper creative midfielder. None of the top 30 ball progressors in the big five leagues is English, and the 31st, Jack Wilshere, did not make the squad.The hope is that by forcing turnovers, England can get the ball in advanced positions without asking less expansive passers like Dier or Jordan Henderson to provide progression from deep areas.So far the results have been mixed. England was dominant against Tunisia and created a number of clear chances from open play. But against Panama, Belgium and Colombia, England relied primarily on set plays to get chances. So far in the World Cup, according to data analytics firm Opta Sports, England has 30 shots from set plays, the most in the tournament — Spain is second with 28. Where England has particularly excelled is in winning fouls in dangerous areas to get shots from free kicks, either with direct attempts on goal or designed set plays. The Three Lions’ 17 shots from free kicks are by far the most at the World Cup, with Spain and Argentina trailing at 12. Neymar0.991.19+0.20 Sweden76.282.9 Son Heung-min0.490.71+0.22 Uruguay66.985.4 Florian Thauvin0.460.76+0.29 Brazil73.282.8 The incredible season that Mo Salah had for Liverpool somewhat obscured Sterling’s massive improvement in production — 22 goals and 12 assists in a little over 3,000 minutes in the Premier League and the Champions League. But set pieces aren’t Sterling’s game. While Kane attempted 26 headed shots last season in the Premier League, Sterling attempted just one. Sterling excels at receiving balls at his feet — he was second in the league in progressive passes received with 6.5.Though England’s set plays have been good for Kane — as his two goals against Tunisia demonstrated — they’ve done nothing for Sterling, who has no goals and just one assist in his three games played. The best way to get Sterling involved would be to develop an open-play strategy for getting the ball into the penalty area and allowing him to create. So long as England depends on set plays, the team sidelines one of its most dangerous attackers.The Three Lions have made it this far through an easy draw with the press and set play plan. But if England intends on defeating a superpower like Brazil or France and lifting the cup, it will need both of its forwards in the game.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. read more

Baseball Gets A Rude Welcome To The Age Of Cyber Espionage

In recent years, it’s become clear that sports has entered its Age of Data, with dueling analytics departments vying for breakthroughs and proprietary metrics increasingly shaping how teams are built. And perhaps there’s no better confirmation of that trend than the inevitable bombshell on Tuesday: The FBI is investigating the St. Louis Cardinals over allegations that they stole data from the Houston Astros in a computer-hacking scheme.According to The New York Times, the FBI found evidence that Cardinals team officials broke into the Astros’ “Ground Control” information network by using the old passwords of Jeff Luhnow, currently Houston’s general manager and formerly the vice president of scouting and player development for St. Louis. Investigators told the Times that the breach compromised Houston’s internal data regarding player evaluation — both scouting and statistical in nature — and potential transactions. (Part of the same database was leaked last June as well.)It was, in essence, the first known case of corporate espionage between sports teams. In some ways, it’s surprising that it took so long for such an incident to surface in the supercompetitive world of sports. During the 1980s and ’90s, the rise of computing — and, consequently, data collection and analysis — led to a rapid proliferation of industrial espionage cases in the business world. (It’s estimated now that the number of corporate hacking incursions doubles every year.) Just as the digital age offered far easier, more systematic methods of data storage than ever before, it also made information theft an efficient means of gaining a competitive advantage.Baseball has had its own long history of dishonesty, from sign-stealing to doctoring the ball. (“If you’re not cheating,” former Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace once said, “you’re not trying hard enough.”) And it’s not uncommon for team officials (and players) to switch franchises, presumably taking whatever knowledge they acquired at their old job with them when they go. According to Baseball-Reference’s historical database, 28 percent of all top-level baseball executives — general managers, scouting directors and farm directors — held the job for multiple teams over their careers.That’s why it’s a little hard to believe that, as the FBI suggested, the motive here was “retaliation” against Luhnow for leaving the Cardinals and starting a new database system with the Astros. Because it’s so widely acknowledged that everyone’s front-office lifespan is mind-bogglingly short, comings and goings between front offices are almost always matters of business, not fuel for personal vendettas.It is easy, however, to understand the story as the latest step a team is willing to take to gain an edge. While the Astros weren’t the earliest adopters of sabermetrics, there’s plenty of evidence that they’re in the current vanguard of advanced statistical thinking.1The list of Baseball Prospectus alumni in the team’s front office is staggering. In other words, if you were going to begin spying on MLB teams for their proprietary data, Houston might be the one to start with.If this scandal deepens, the Cardinals may well see the legitimacy of their recent accomplishments questioned, much like the New England Patriots in the wake of Spygate (and, subsequently, Deflate-gate).St. Louis won three National League pennants and two World Series with Luhnow in its front office, and the team also has the best record in baseball since he departed. Over that span, the Cardinals have exceeded expectations, beating their projected wins by the fifth-largest margin of any team in baseball. In that department, they’re not outliers like the Patriots are at avoiding fumbles, for instance, but it will be interesting to watch how much their transactions and personnel decisions will be scrutinized for signs that they used the hacked data to their advantage.In the meantime, this might be the opening salvo in baseball’s era of cyber espionage — a fate that, in retrospect, seems like an inevitable consequence of the game’s widespread adoption of data analysis over the past decade and a half. Hot Takedown On Big Data And BaseballSubscribe to the full podcast on iTunes. read more

Ohio State mens volleyball dispatches Pfeiffer in consecutive sets

Junior setter Christy Blough (5) sets the ball during a match against Ball State on Feb. 6. OSU won 3-0.Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (13-3) defeated Pfeiffer University (9-5) in three consecutive sets (25-20, 25-15, 25-20) Friday night, defending its home court and swelling its winning streak to five matches. In OSU’s 13 victories this season, opponents have taken a set just once. Friday’s matchup was originally scheduled for Jan. 23, but it was postponed because winter weather made travel unsafe. Despite the three-set triumph, the Buckeyes’ performance was far from being a dominant one. The Falcons brought what they had and were able to keep each set close. “I thought we came out a little sluggish and I thought that Pfeiffer played hard,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said. “We cleaned up our side of the net a bit, so that was nice to see.”In the first set, the Falcons got out to a quick lead, but OSU battled back, eventually forcing the opposition to take a timeout. After the short break, the Falcons were revitalized, pulling themselves back into the match. Yet, the relentlessness of OSU was too much down the stretch, as it went on to win the set 25-20.Sophomore outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen led the Buckeyes with five kills in the opening frame.The second set started out much like the first, but consecutive mental mistakes by the Falcons gave OSU a comfortable lead, which it would only build upon. The Buckeyes clinched the middle frame by a score of 25-15.In the final set, with the Falcons needing to win to continue the match, OSU was the one that jumped out to an early lead behind a strong team effort. The Falcons weren’t going to give in, battling back to make the match close. But the Buckeyes, feeling the Falcons chipping into their lead, responded with a flurry of points again, forcing the opposition to take a quick timeout. Behind the momentum, the Scarlet and Gray would go on to win the set 25-20 to seal the contest. “I thought that we took it well,” Szerszen said. “We had some downs and ups, but I thought we managed it pretty well.”OSU finished the match with a .421 percent attack and eight service aces. The Buckeyes also tallied 31 total digs on the night. Individually, Szerszen had a match-high 16 kills. Junior setter Christy Blough paced OSU with a game-leading 34 assists.The final set capped off a night in which the Buckeyes did whatever it took to get the win. This victory was similar to last year’s matchup against the Falcons in St. John Arena, in which OSU won in four sets (25-22, 28-26, 20-25, 25-18). “It was a slower game, but I think that was just from us playing hard over the last few weeks,” junior outside hitter Miles Johnson said. “I think it was a little bit slower tonight, but that’s fine because we got the win.”Two of the players on OSU have recently been awarded athletic honors. Szerszen received the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Offensive Player of the Week award, which he has now been given four times. Johnson was also recognized with the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Week honors, an award that only 15 players at OSU, including Johnson, have ever received. “It’s nice to see the guys have their hard work pay off and get recognize by their peers,” Hanson said. “(It’s) kind of a validation that they’re doing the right things and they’re working on things we’re talking about,”The Buckeyes are set to be back in action at St. John Arena next weekend, when they are scheduled to take on Loyola University on Friday night, followed by Lewis University an evening later. OSU has faced off against both teams before on Feb. 12 and 13, respectively. In each match, the Buckeyes swept their opponent on the road.  Both rematches have scheduled 7 p.m. starts in Columbus. read more

Jordan Hall From suspended to steward

Two weeks removed from serving a two-game suspension, junior running back Jordan Hall has been named a captain for Saturday’s game against Michigan State. Hall, along junior defensive back and sophomore defensive back Corey Brown, was suspended for the games against Toledo and Akron for receiving impermissible benefits in the form of $200 from a former booster at a Cleveland-area charity event. The NCAA reinstated his eligibility before the Sept. 17 game against the Miami Hurricanes. “He’s a big leader in the locker room; he does a great job,” Fickell said. “He’s handled everything that we’ve asked him to handle with class and dignity.” Hall was all smiles when discussing his captain status with the media. “It’s definitely an honor,” Hall said. “It’ll be one of my greatest memories at Ohio State and it’s definitely exciting.” Hall has improved since his return to the field, rushing for 87 yards in an otherwise-offensive disaster against Miami. He followed up that performance with 84 yards and a touchdown against Colorado. Hall also had a 90-yard kickoff return against the Buffaloes to set up a touchdown. Fickell said Hall’s competitive nature on offense and special teams is what sets him apart from other players. “There’s guys with all types of abilities. When you get to college … those abilities becomes closer and closer,” Fickell said. “I think that’s the one thing I would say about Jordan. Yes, he’s very good in the things that he does, but he’s a competitor.” He added, “I’ll tell you right now, if we took him over on defense, he’d start somewhere on defense too because of the competitor that he is.” Hall said he was appreciative of Fickell’s support. “It feels good because he’s the head coach, he makes all the decisions,” Hall said. “If he feels that way about a player, then you obviously feel good about yourself.” Fickell alluded to the team’s current suspended players, senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, senior offensive tackle Mike Adams, senior running back Dan “Boom” Herron and defensive end Solomon Thomas as potential future captains as well. “We understand that we learn from our mistakes, but we’re not gonna throw guys away,” Fickell said. “That’s kind of the reason we wanted to have game captains the whole season, so that we could make sure we could bring everybody … whatever their situation.” Posey, Adams and Herron are set to return next week against Nebraska, and Hall said they have been leaders throughout the season. “They are still full-fledged members of the team,” Hall said. “We look at them as leaders.” Ohio State will face Michigan State this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. read more

Lemieux plays outstanding role for Buckeye field hockey in Ohio return

Ohio State field hockey junior goalkeeper Sarah Lemieux.Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletic DepartmentSarah Lemieux never thought she would get another chance to play field hockey after having to transfer back home prior to her third year of college.Lemieux, a Columbus native, was forced to leave Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania and come back to Dublin, Ohio, to be with her family. She never expected she would be lucky enough to wear her goalkeeper gear again, let alone be part of the Ohio State field hockey team.“I had to come home for like financial, like family issues,” Lemieux said. “I didn’t even think I was going to get to play at all anymore.”However, Lemieux’s passion for the game never faltered, and when she heard OSU needed a goalkeeper, she decided to reach out to the coaches.“I didn’t even think I was going to get to play at all anymore and then I heard they needed a goalie, so I was like, ‘I guess I will email them,’ and I did, and they were like, ‘oh my God, like we really need a goalie,’” Lemieux said.The junior was a big part of the team during her time at IUP, but was not sure what her playing time would look like when she came to Columbus. She felt confident in her knowledge of the sport, but was shocked to see how much of a difference just one division made.“I was a starter. I played every game,” Lemieux said. “I had game experience, but it’s a completely different game. Like, it’s a lot quicker, like skill level’s a lot higher, so it’s different but it’s cool.”Coach Anne Wilkinson said Lemieux is a “very mature player” and has already made huge contributions this season.“She came in with some experience,” Wilkinson said. “She is confident, but she’s not over confident and I think she really plays an outstanding role on this team.”When OSU upset then-No. 20 ranked New Hampshire in its second game of the season, Lemieux claimed the Big Ten Player of the Week award in what was her first career start. The game went into double overtime, ending in a shootout. Lemieux denied UNH three times to preserve the victory.So far this season, Lemieux has tallied 28 saves, and Wilkinson said she has great talent as a goalkeeper and understands what is happening when the ball is coming her way.“She can come out so well on the ball,” Wilkinson said. “Her timing is really very good, and she reads the play. She anticipates well, she can handle a scramble, she can handle a lot of people in front of her, in front of the net, she can get down and she can stay focused on the ball. She is able to fight and if she can get to it, she will.”Wilkinson credits her goalkeeper’s strong mindset as a main proponent of her ability to keep her composure, even when things get rough.“She is just so even-keel,” Wilkinson said. “Whether she has a bad game or a good game, I just think she is mentally very strong.”Lemieux not only helps her teammates, but she has a passion for helping children as well. In the past, she has been a nanny to children and enjoys being part of their lives. She still keeps in contact with them and loves when she sees them in the stands at every home game.Lemieux said she was also a nanny for two children with autism a few years ago and babysits a child who has Down syndrome regularly. Her work with children is something she looks to continue after she finishes at OSU.“I am actually going into physical therapy to work with kids with special needs,” Lemieux said. “It was either occupational therapy or physical therapy. I don’t really know yet, but basically just working on everyday tasks in general with special needs kids is something I’ve always been interested in.”While Lemieux loves to spend her time with children, she also enjoys the time she has spent with her teammates at OSU. She said the team’s enthusiasm about the game is great and fun to be around.“Here it’s like everyone (gives) 100 percent like all the time and it’s a lot of fun to play with,” she said.Lemieux and the Buckeyes head to East Lansing, Mich., Saturday to take on Michigan State. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. read more

Ohio State football to play in at least 3 primetime games in

Junior quarterback, Braxton Miller (5), attempts to run through a tackle by Northwestern defender. OSU won against Northwestern 40-30 Oct. 5.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorGene Smith and Urban Meyer are getting their wish — more primetime football games for Ohio State football.ESPN announced its slate of primetime matchups for the 2014 season, six of which involve teams in the Big Ten. Half of those Big Ten games include the Buckeyes, giving what both Smith and Meyer want for the program — an ability to showcase the team at night.Smith said in an interview with The Lantern Jan. 29 he pushes for ESPN to pick OSU as often as it can when it irons out its night game schedule.“I’m trying to encourage them to pick us,” Smith said in the interview, adding that he would “probably wait till after the Final Four” before talking with the cable sports juggernaut.The Buckeyes are slated to battle Virginia Tech, Penn State and Illinois on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC this coming season, with all three games slated to kick off at 8 p.m., according to an OSU press release.The Sept. 6 game against the Hokies in Columbus can be seen on ESPN, while ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 will televise both the Oct. 25 game in State College, Pa., and Nov. 1 tilt against the Fighting Illini at home.The game against the Fighting Illini holds something extra as well, as it is set to be the first night game played in November in Ohio Stadium history.The Buckeyes hosted two night games this past season, both resulting in wins — a 31-24 win against Wisconsin Sept. 28 and 63-14 drubbing of Penn State Oct. 26. Meyer said even before the season got started he had looked forward to the prospect of getting those two games at home.“I’m really excited about that, because that’s recruiting, and especially the night games we have,” Meyer said Aug. 26, just days before the season opener against Buffalo. “The earlier games are a hard time, I didn’t really realize that, but they were hard to get guys here because you’re leaving at 6 a.m., 7 a.m. after a Friday night football game. And a lot of times Saturday, the high school coach has a player, they have to come in and get treatments and all that and the kids can’t make the games. Where night games, you shouldn’t have any issue.”OSU could play in more night games this coming season, but that won’t be decided until the Big Ten Network releases its list of primetime games April 22, according to an OSU release.Ohio Stadium is set to add 2,500 more seats prior to the 2014 season, further preparation for hosting big time programs like Oklahoma in 2017 and Texas in 2023 and beyond, Smith said, which very well could be primetime contests.“Those 2,500 seats will be in the south end zone, you can imagine the tunnels, those seats will go over the top of those tunnels,” Smith said. “So now the teams will come underneath, come out of those tunnels.”Even though Meyer and Smith both said they love night games in Ohio Stadium, Smith did acknowledge that doing so worries him, because of safety concerns.“I think early on I wasn’t comfortable. I think our fans have gotten better, I think we’ve gotten better at working with our fans throughout the day,” Smith said. “The risks are still there. You go to the stadium on Sunday morning and find those little airplane bottles (of alcohol) … It is what it is.”The Buckeyes are 39-22 all-time in night games — those starting after 5 p.m. local time — according to the release. Officially, OSU is 29-19 in games either on the road or played at a neutral site at night and 10-3 at home in primetime games at home.Aside from the wins against Wisconsin and Penn State in Columbus last season, OSU was 1-2 in other prime-time matchups, falling to Michigan State and Clemson in the Big Ten Championship Game and Orange Bowl, while beating Northwestern on the road.But the odds of Meyer continuing to support the idea of home night games for his team are very high.“I think our atmosphere at night is magical,” Meyer said.2014 OSU Football Schedule (as of Tuesday)Aug. 30 — v. Navy, noon at M&T Bank Stadium in BaltimoreSept. 6 — Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. on ESPNSept. 13 — Kent StateSept. 20 — ByeSept. 27 — CincinnatiOct. 4 — at MarylandOct. 11 — ByeOct. 18 —RutgersOct. 25 — at Penn State, 8 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2Nov. 1 — Illinois, 8 p.m. on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2Nov. 8 — at Michigan StateNov. 15 — at MinnesotaNov. 22 — IndianaNov. 29 — MichiganDec. 6 — Big Ten Championship Game read more

Ohio State defense preparing for aerial Cincinnati attack

OSU freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) pressures Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon during a game Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won 66-0.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorPreparing for an intrastate opponent could easily be an afterthought for the Ohio State football team.The Buckeyes have not lost a game to coach Urban Meyer’s alma mater Cincinnati since 1897. But the Bearcats enter the matchup against OSU with a top tier passing offense, ranking ninth in the country.Meyer said Wednesday that the matchup pitting the Bearcats’ aerial assault against the Buckeye defense will be the key to the game. He added that he has confidence in his secondary that just a year ago ranked 112 out of 125 teams in pass yards allowed per game. “That’s the big one,” Meyer said. “I do (have confidence) from what I see not because I hope. They are highly-recruited kids. I see what I see in practice and this will be the big challenge for them.”The Bearcats’ redshirt-sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel, who was highly recruited out of high school, earned high praises from Meyer. He said Kiel has impressed him with his play thus far in 2014. “He is big, strong and he runs pretty good when he runs,” Meyer said. “He looks giant on film and on TV. He just looks like a big, gunslinger-type quarterback.”Kiel, who committed to Indiana and Louisiana State University before spending a year at Notre Dame, transferred to Cincinnati in 2013 and sat out all of last season. But just two games into his career, he is already impressing his peers. OSU junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt said the Buckeye defense cannot let Kiel be comfortable in the pocket, or he will be able to make plays.“We have a lot of respect for Gunner Kiel and he is a great quarterback,” Schutt said Wednesday. “Our job up front is to get after him and disrupt his game. A huge part of our game plan is getting after the quarterback.”Sophomore safety Vonn Bell makes an interception during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 at Ohio Stadium. OSU lost, 35-21.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorOSU sophomore safety Vonn Bell agreed with his defensive teammate, adding that the Buckeyes will need to disturb Kiel in order to be successful. “He is pretty calm back there,” Bell said Wednesday. “We got to bring a lot of chaos. We are going to bring something for him, so we got to get him mixed up in the head, cover our guys and do our jobs.”Containing the Bearcats’ receivers is something that the OSU defense is also focusing on this week as Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville called his receiving corps the best he has ever coached. In comparison, Tuberville has coached at Auburn and Texas Tech amongst other schools, going undefeated at Auburn in 2004. Bell said he knows the Buckeyes will be tested Saturday, but remains confident the OSU defense will hold its own. “It’s a challenge for us, (but) it is a challenge for them too,” Bell said. “We got a good group of guys, they got a good group of guys. It’s going to be a real good contest out there. We are going to fight to the end.” After receiving scrutiny last season, Bell said the Buckeye secondary is excited to prove that they are no longer the weak link on the football team. “We are going to show the world who we are,” Bell said.The Buckeyes will have the chance to do that in their second primetime game of the season and fourth overall contest Saturday, something Schutt said he is looking forward to following a week off. “A bye week is always tough, sitting at home watching everyone play,” Schutt said. “We are definitely eager to get after it.”OSU and Cincinnati are scheduled to kickoff Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. read more

Baseball Ohio State drops home opener swept in doubleheader in Cincinnati to

Ohio State then-junior catcher, now shortstop, Jalen Washington bats against Northwestern on March 26, 2016 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporterThe Ohio State baseball team has never encountered much trouble opening up the season at home. They were undefeated at home under head coach Greg Beals and have not lost since 2004, but that streak ended this weekend, as did their three-game winning streak as they were swept by Xavier. The team is now 8-11 on the season, while Xavier improves to an even 10-10.The team was able to find the power stroke as they received six home runs over the weekend. This home run production was not spread out too far, however, as only three players combined for those six.Junior second baseman Noah McGowan blasted three home runs in Game 3, senior shortstop Jalen Washington knocked two over the fence in Game 2 and junior left fielder Tyler Cowles had one of his own in Game 2 as well.Game 1The Buckeyes took the Musketeers to extra innings, but surrendered a run in the top of the 13th inning to lose their home opener, 3-2.Xavier may have been on the road, but they were still able to get things going early. Their first batter of the game reached first, stole second and later advanced on to third base to give the Musketeers their first scoring chance of the night. Freshman first baseman Nate Monastra was able to come through for his team and delivered an RBI single up the middle to give his team the early 1-0 lead.The second inning started off quite similar to the first. Again, Xavier lead off the inning with a base hit, this time a double. The runner then advanced on to third on a single that put runners on the corners.Senior center fielder Matt Fallon followed that up with a successful squeeze bunt attempt to the first baseman was that pushed across the second Xavier run of the night, giving them a 2-0 lead.It did not take long for the Buckeyes to respond. In the bottom of the third inning, a walk, error and sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for senior shortstop Jalen Washington, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to put OSU on the board.Junior second baseman Noah McGowan then followed up Washington’s sacrifice fly with the Buckeyes’ first hit of the game that knotted the game up at two.The score remained tied at two apiece until the top of the 13th inning. The Musketeers loaded up the bases on a pair of hits and a walk before the Buckeyes struck out the next two batters. With the bases loaded and two away, senior right fielder Joe Gellenbeck took the six-pitch walk that pushed across the would-be winning run and bring the score to 3-2.The most potent force at the dish for OSU was again junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt. The leadoff hitter for OSU continued his hot streak into the home opener by delivering three hits in five at-bats. He has now reached base in all 17 games and owns a team-leading .365 batting average. Game 2Hoping to gain some momentum coming off their home-opener, the Buckeyes led the game late, but blew a 4-3 lead and lost in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4.For the second game in a row, the Musketeers got started early. In the bottom of the second inning, a pair of walks and a single loaded up the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly put the team up early 1-0 before a squeeze bunt scored another run. The scoring finished with Gallagher lining only the second hit of the game up the middle to put Xavier on top 3-0.The Scarlet and Gray did not wait long before responding. Half an inning later in the top of the third, junior left fielder Tyler Cowles blasted a home run over the left field wall to bring the score to 3-1.With the score now 3-1, the Buckeyes were looking for some more offense and they found it in the form of co-captain Washington. In the top of the fourth inning, he crushed OSU’s second home run of the game over the left field wall and brought the game to within one.The following inning, the team again found some offense off the bat of Washington. With a runner on first and two away, Washington again connected off Xavier’s starter and sent his second home run of the game out and gave OSU its first lead of the game.After being held scoreless for four straight innings, Xavier lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh to tie up the game at four.The game stayed tied until the bottom of the ninth inning. A hit-by-pitch, walk and single loaded up the bases with one away for Xavier junior shortstop Mitch Gallagher. Gallagher lifted his second sacrifice fly of the game to center field, bringing home the winning run for the team and sealing the 5-4 victory.This was Washington’s first game batting third in the lineup and he delivered exactly what the team was looking for. The fourth-year co-captain came to the plate four times and finished the game with two hits (both home runs), two runs scored and three RBI’s.Game 3OSU built up three leads against Xavier, but blew all three and lost 6-5 in walk-off fashion for the second-straight game.Coming off a loss in which they gave up three early runs, the Buckeyes were all set to get on the scoreboard as early as possible. With the game still tied at zero in the top of the third, McGowan stepped up to the plate and launched the ball over the left field fence to put his team ahead 1-0.The Buckeyes had the early lead, but it would not take long for the Musketeers to respond. With two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the third, junior designated hitter Blaine Griffiths doubled to right field and tied the game up at one.The game stayed tied until the seventh inning when McGowan came to bat with runners on the corners. For the second time, he homered to left field to put the Buckeyes ahead 4-1.Xavier again responded quickly to the offensive strike by the Buckeyes. The first batter of the bottom of the seventh inning homered to left field to bring the game to only a two-run gap.But the Musketeers weren’t done there. The next inning, they put runners on first and second for junior catcher Nate Soria, who singled to left to bring Xavier to within one. Another single loaded up the bases for junior left fielder Will LaRue, who walked to tie the game. Xavier had tied the game up, but the McGowan show was still going on. OSU’s second baseman stepped up to the plate for the fifth time and for the third time, he homered to left field to give OSU the 5-4 lead.Now trailing for the third time in this game, Xavier was down to its final three outs. After the leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch, Gellenbeck homered to right-center field to deliver the Musketeers the 6-5 victory and secure the three-game sweep.This was the clear standout game for McGowan. The third-year transfer from McClellan Community College finished the game 3-5 with three runs scored, five RBI and three home runs in the game. The Buckeyes will take the field again at Bill Davis for only the second time this season when they host Youngstown State on Tuesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:05 p.m. read more

John McEnroe reignites row with Serena Williams with jibe over her Vanity

first_imgJohn McEnroe has reignited his spat with Serena Williams by claiming she courted publicity over a magazine cover featuring her pregnancy.The presenter and former Wimbledon champion provoked controversy when he suggested the tennis star would rank 700th if she played against men.Ms Williams, who won the Australian Open earlier this year while two months pregnant, responded by asking McEnroe to “respect” her after he stated would be “like 700” in the world tennis rankings if she played on the men’s tour. McEnroe initially said he regretted his commentsCredit:Julian Finney /Getty The pose echoed the infamous 1991 Vanity Fair cover of actress Demi Moore, who was then seven months pregnant. At the time, the image, taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz, divided opinion.McEnroe told ESPN: “[Serena] also said to me, ‘Respect my privacy’—and then I saw her doing a Demi Moore lookalike thing on the cover of Vanity Fair.”Asked by McEnroe where Williams would be ranked if she were on the men’s circuit,  former women’s number one Chris Evert said: “It’s not relevant. It’s apples and oranges.” The 23-time Grand Slam champion wrote on Twitter: “Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.”I’ve never played anyone ranked ‘there’ nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I’m trying to have a baby. Good day sir.”McEnroe initially responded apologetically, saying he regretted the comments. The tennis star’s Vanity Fair coverCredit:Annie Leibovitz /PA John McEnroe “It would have been better not to have said it. I didn’t realise it would create something like this,” he said ahead of the start of the Wimbledon championships.But on the first day of the tournament on Monday he returned to the subject, suggesting Ms Williams had used her pregnancy for publicity, posing naked on the cover of Vanity Fair.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The tennis star's Vanity Fair coverlast_img read more