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Otterbein College Baseball has split two games this week

Courtesy of Otterbein Athletics

John LaCorte Otterbein (OC photo)

On Monday, the Otterbein Cardinals upped their record to 8-2 with a 15-6 win over Mount Saint Joseph College. It was there 4th win in a row. Junior John LaCorte was the winning pitcher, his fourth win of the year. LaCorte pitched five innings.

On Tuesday, the Cardinals traveled to Xenia, Ohio to play Wright State University at Athletes In Action Field and lost 6-2. Otterbein did score two runs in the top of the first inning, but could’nt hold the lead.

Freshman Wes Meadows was 2-for-4 with 1 run scored for the Cardinals.

Wes Meadows Otterbein (OC photo)

Dayton downs Mississippi Rebels, 68-63 to advance to NIT Finals

Courtesy of Dayton Flyers Athletics

Dayton's Chris Johnson slams one on Ole Miss (UD photo)

Columbus Brookhaven graduate Chris Johnson scored 22 points, including five key free throws down the stretch, and the Flyers held off the Mississippi Rebels, 68-66 in the NIT semifinals Tuesday night.

This is the Flyers eighth appearance in the NIT championship game.  Dayton reached the finals five times in the 1950′s and won the tournament in 1962 under Tom Blackburn and 1968 under Don Donoher.

Marcus Johnson added 12 points for Dayton (24-12), who slowed down the Rebels high-scoring offense and advanced to the championship game for the first time since winning their second NIT in 1968. Mississippi was averaging 88 points per game but shot only 33.9 percent.  Dayton’s Chris Wright grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Flyers now have a chance to end a disappointing year on a high note. Picked to win the Atlantic 10 Conference in the preseason, the third-seeded Flyers will play Thursday night against the 2009 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.

The key play of the game came at the 3:09 mark when Ole Miss was making a comeback and they were hurt by a technical foul on Reginald Buckner. He and Chris Johnson got tied up going for a loose ball, and Buckner threw a right forearm to Chris Johnson’s throat as they were untangled. Chris Wright quickly sepaarated the two players before Chris Johnson hit both free throws, pushing Dayton’s lead to 64-58 and they got the ball.

Chris Johnson, coach Brian Gregory and Chris Wright (UD photo)

Terrico White scored 19 points for the second-seeded Rebels of head coach Andy Kennedy, who were eliminated in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden for the second time in three years. Ole Miss was beaten by eventual champion Ohio State in 2008.

Mississippi’s Murphy Holloway had a chance to tie the game at 64 with 35.8 seconds left. But he missed the second of two free throws, and the Rebels never scored again.

The “Jacksonville Jet,” London Warren hit one of two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining, extending Dayton’s lead to two. Trevor Gaskins drove through the lane for Ole Miss but came up short on a twisting layup, and the Flyers grabbed the rebound.

Chris Johnson’s two free throws made it 67-63 with 11.2 seconds to play. On the very next play London Warren knocked the ball out of Chris Warren’s hands and out of bounds. Chris Johnson then stole the inbounds pass, got fouled and hit one of two free throws for the final margin.

Iowa hires Fran McCaffery to replace Lickliter as men’s basketball coach

compiled from staff, wire reports and Iowa Hawkeyes athletics

The Iowa Hawkeyes have their man to head the men’s basketball program.  Athletic Director Gary Barta has convinced 50-year-old Fran McCaffery to leave the comforts of Mid-major Siena College to coach in the Big Ten Conference.

McCaffery went 112-51 in five seasons at Siena, leading the Saints to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Siena lost to Purdue in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament and finished with a 27-7 mark.

McCaffery replaces Todd Lickliter, who was fired after Iowa went 10-22 this season. Once upon a time Iowa was one of the top programs in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes went 38-58 under Lickliter while dropping to the bottom of the league.

Eventhough Iowa was starting to be on target for improvement in 2010-2011, Gary Barta let Coach Lickliter go right after the Big Ten tournament on March 15.  Barta cited several reasons: Bad recruiting, a losing record, sagging attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, dwindling revenue from ticket sales and contributions when he let Lickliter go. Also, the general concensus around Iowa City was Todd Lickliter was a good man and a good coach but he was “out of his league” coaching at Iowa and in the Big Ten.

Fran McCaffery Iowa Coach (Siena photo)

The Hawkeyes last made the NCAA tournament in 2006, losing to Northwestern State on a 3-point goal at the buzzer.  Then coach Steve Alford left for New Mexico following the 2007 season.  Alford in the meantime has built the Lobos into a dominant force in the Mountain West Conference, Iowa hasn’t had a winning season since he left. The feeling is that it is tough for any coach to recruit at Iowa. Plus other basketball programs in the state are more attractive to play at: Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa State in Ames and Northern Iowa, located in Cedar Falls, is now the kingpin in the state over Iowa.

With that in mind, Coach McCaffery’s first duties will be is to keep the current Hawkeyes key players around to rebuild the program. They include: Matt Gatens, Aaron Fuller, Eric May and Cully Payne.

Fran spent six years at North Carolina Greensboro, compiling a record of 90-87, before taking over at Siena College before the 2005-2006 season.  McCaffery also coached Lehigh  for 3 years, guiding it to the NCAA tournament in 1988, before leaving to become an assistant at Notre Dame.

McCaffery is a Philadelphia native and has taken three different teams to the NCAA tournament.  He played college basketball at Wake Forest and Pennsylvania.

President Barack Obama will throw out first pitch at Nationals game

compiled from staff, wire, MLB and Nationals info

Barack Obama 44th U.S. President (file photo)

Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener, marking the 100th anniversary of a presidential pitch to start the season.

Ohioan William Howard Taft first did it on April 14, 1910.  This will be the 48th time a president has made an opening-day pitch in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Nationals will open at home on April 5 against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Commissioner Bud Selig said, “I am proud that President Obama will continue the long presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of opening day in Washington, D.C.”

President Obama will be throwing to a catcher who is experienced in catching presidents. Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star and when he played for the Texas Rangers, he twice caught ceremonial pitches from President George W. Bush, a former Rangers owner. This will be President Obama’s first time in attendance at Nationals Park.

Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at last year’s All-Star game in St. Louis, wearing a White Sox jacket. An interesting note is that the Nationals will be playing host to the White Sox this season for a three-game series, June 18-20 and everybody wonders who the president will be rooting for?

Ernie Els is carrying the PGA Tour in Tiger’s absence; wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

compiled from staff, wire reports and PGA Tour information

Ernie Els ended up wearing the blue blazer given to the winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. On Monday he made two clutch putts for par and escaped trouble from bunker. He said after the tournament he can see himself winning a green jacket in a few weeks at the Masters.

The South African overcame a few anxious and nervous moments with four solid pars to wrap up a 1-under par 71 and win by two shots at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, giving him back-to-back wins for the first time in seven years and setting himself up as one of the top favorites at Augusta National.

Els won a four-shot victory in the World Golf Championships at Doral two weeks ago. But he had his work cut out for him at Bay Hill, to be able to claim his 18th career victory on the PGA Tour.

Golfer Ernie Els (creative commons/wfe photo)

He had a five-shot lead Sunday afternoon with six holes remaining until hitting into the water on number 13 for a double-bogey and hitting into the sand on the next hole for a bogey. Then came the thunderstorms, halting the final round until it resumed on Monday around 12 noon.

Els felt pressure as he was lining up a 6-foot putt for par and he went ahead and sunk it.

With him nursing a one shot over Kevin Na, his iron shot came up short of the 17th green and was on the front of the bunker. Els got out out of that jam and made par.

He finished the tournament at 11-under par 277 and moved to number 7 in the world rankings. Els earned $1.08 million, giving him more than $3 million for the year and puts him atop the PGA Tour money list.

Kevin Na closed with a 69 and shared second with Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who also had a 69. Retief Goosen (69) and Chris Couch (71) tied for fourth. Ohio native Ben Curtis, who started the final round one shot out of the lead, closed with a 74 and finished sixth.

This was Els’ second victory at Bay Hill, the other coming 11 years ago in a 36-hole Sunday because of rain. Els became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win twice on the Florida PGA Tour swing.  Woods won at Bay Hill and the Players Championship, then made it three in a row when he captured the Masters.

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