Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
Ohio State baseball will play the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a two-game series starting Tuesday.
The Buckeyes (27-20, 11-10 Big Ten) travels to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Cowboys (28-18, 13-8 Big 12) and complete a home-and-home series that dates back to last season. The Buckeyes faced the Cowboys for two games at Bill Davis Stadium May 10 and 11 in 2011 and split the two-game set.
The Buckeyes will have their work cut out for them as they journey to the Cowboys’ home turf.
Oklahoma State is 20-3 at home and has three batters hitting higher than .310 with junior infielder Robbie Rea, senior utility player Gabe Weidenaar and junior outfielder Trey Whaley leading the team. The Cowboys are tied for third in the Big 12 and look to add on to the 7-4 advantage Big 12 teams have against Big Ten teams in 2012, according to the Big 12 website.
After the Northwestern series, Buckeye players and coaches said they are relieved to have a stretch of games to play that will not affect their Big Ten standings.
“We’re going to have a couple midweek games and non-conference this weekend, so we’re going to clean stuff up and focus,” said Josh Dezse, sophomore first baseman and closer. “Coming into Indiana, we’ll know we need to take two of three but it would be nice to sweep, as well.”
For the Buckeyes, this series with the Cowboys begins a six-game stretch of non-conference games that also includes three home games against Seattle University this weekend and the final home game of the season against Toledo May 15.
Sophomore outfielder Tim Wetzel said this stretch will allow OSU to get back into the thick of the Big Ten race.
“We think we ran the gauntlet pretty tough in the beginning of the year,” Wetzel said after OSU swept Northwestern Sunday. “We played it tough and lost a lot of close games. Now that we’re right in the thick of things we get to see a lot of teams do the same thing in the conference. It’ll be nice that we can kind of lay back, play good baseball over the weekend against a non-conference and come back and do what we need to do for Indiana.”
Buckeyes’ coach Greg Beals said it’s great to be in the thick of the Big Ten race, but it is a little frustrating that things have been so close this season.
“When you see how close you are it makes you go, ‘Oh man,’ again,” Beals said after OSU played the second of two one-run games against Penn State. “We’re in these one-run games and we’ve lost four one-run games in Big Ten play. I think we’re 6-8 overall in one-run games for the season. We need to find a way to win those. I would think that the competitive nature of our team would get us over that hump.”
The Buckeyes are in sixth place in the Big Ten and are one-and-a-half games back of a three-way tie for third behind Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State. OSU must finish in at least sixth place to qualify for the Big Ten tournament, which is in Columbus at Huntington Park beginning May 23. The Buckeyes only have three Big Ten games left, a weekend series at Indiana May 17-19.
First pitch of Tuesday’s game against the Cowboys is set for 7:30 p.m.