After reaping the benefits from a homestand that saw 10 wins in 11 games, the Ohio State baseball team is set to head on the road for a Tuesday afternoon showdown with the Kent State Golden Flashes (19-8).
OSU (19-7-1) is on a seven-game winning streak and leads the Big Ten in five batting categories: home runs (33), doubles (65), runs (188), RBIs (173) and walks (131). The nonconference matchup opens a four-game road swing that is set to end with a three-game series against the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, Maryland, over the weekend.
OSU senior third baseman Nick Sergakis is pacing OSU with a .400 batting average including a conference-leading 44 hits and 12 doubles. The co-captain, who owns a career-best five home runs, also tops the conference with 73 total bases.
Another Buckeye who is excelling at the plate is redshirt junior right fielder Jacob Bosiokovic. The Delaware, Ohio, native is batting .338 and is tied with Purdue’s Kyle Wood for the lead in the Big Ten with nine home runs.
Beals said his players have developed a confidence in their abilities to score runs at will, which stems from an increase in production at every slot in the lineup.
“When we’re able to get that production down there in that seven-, eight- and nine-hole area, that supports the top of the lineup,” Beals said. “Our first four guys at the top of the lineup are as good as anybody in the country, I feel like. So that balance makes it even tougher on our opponent.
“Our guys just need to keep doing what they’re doing. I don’t believe that we’ve even got clicking as well as we’re capable of from an offensive standpoint, so that’s exciting from a coaching standpoint that there is still room for improvement offensively.”
The confidence generated at the plate has also given OSU’s pitching staff the freedom to be aggressive and attack opposing hitters. In turn, the Buckeye pitching staff is also leading the conference in wins (19) and strikeouts (234).
Scouting Kent State
Kent State has won two games in a row and is in the midst of a nine-game homestand that stretches until April 13. The Golden Flashes have been led at the plate by the performance of senior infielder Zarley Zalewski. The New Kensington, Pennsylvania, native has a .343 batting average with three homers and 29 RBIs.
Kent State has also been powered by sophomore infielder Dylan Rosa, who is batting .340 with a team-leading seven homers and 33 RBIs.
Kent State is scheduled to send freshman pitcher Connor Wollersheim (2-1) to the mound versus OSU. The Neenah, Wisconsin, native boasts a 3.20 ERA in five appearances for the Golden Flashes, including four starts. In his last appearance against Lake Erie College, Wollersheim pitched 5.0 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing no hits and two walks to lead Kent State to a 9-1 victory.
Pride on the line
OSU is set to hand the ball to freshman pitcher Ryan Feltner (1-1), who rebounded nicely in his last start to earn the first win of his collegiate career. After allowing 10 hits and five runs to the Xavier Musketeers on March 22, Feltner held the Ohio Bobcats to one run, scattering five hits over his 5.2 innings of work, allowing OSU to win the game 6-3.
Beals said the freshman-on-freshman matchup should give fans a deep look into the future of each program, and even though it’s just a nonconference game, Beals thinks pride will be on the line for both squads.
“There’s going to be two programs on the field that have a lot of pride, and it’s definitely going to be a good ball game,” Beals said. “I went to Kent, it’s my alma mater. I coached there and I know for a fact that they believe that they’re the best baseball program in the state of Ohio. I know we believe that as well. There’s going to be two teams absolutely ready to go (Tuesday).”
OSU’s sixth-year coach said he was pleased with his team’s ability to defend its home turf, crediting his players for cleaning up the mental mistakes that plagued them earlier this season. Although it played five games last week, Beals said his team will be ready for Kent State on Tuesday.
“We’ve had a great homestand,” Beals said. “We’re playing well right now and it’s going to be important that we can continue this trend on the road.”
The first pitch against the Golden Flashes is scheduled to be thrown out at 4 p.m. on Tuesday in Kent, Ohio.