Todd Avery / For The Lantern
Ohio State baseball is hoping it can lean on the leadership of an experienced squad featuring 15 upperclassmen in the 2013 season.
After an up-and-down 2012 season where it went 33-27, OSU coach Greg Beals said the key to the team’s success will lie with the familiarity the players and coaches have with one another.
“We believe we’ve developed a good understanding of each other and confidence in each other,” said Beals, who is 59-55 in his two-plus years at the helm in Columbus, said. “We know what to expect from each other and we really feel like that’s going to serve us well as we work our way through this season.”
The Buckeyes will be without junior pitcher and first baseman Josh Dezse for at least the first two months of the season after he suffered a stress reaction in his lower back in early February. A key contributor last year, Dezse compiled a 2.86 ERA with seven saves as a pitcher, as well as hitting .306 with five home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored at the plate.
And as if losing Dezse was not enough, OSU opened the season by dropping two of its first three games over the weekend in Sarasota, Fla.
Before earning its first win of the season against St. John’s 3-1 Sunday, OSU was blown out by Notre Dame, 13-3, Saturday and fell to Mercer University, 6-5 Friday.
Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg, who earned the Buckeyes’ lone victory, was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Monday after his strong outing against the Red Storm. Goldberg allowed only two hits and struck out seven over seven shutout innings.
The last Buckeye to win a Big Ten weekly award was then-freshman outfielder Pat Porter with Freshman of the Week on April 9 last season. He has gotten his sophomore season off to a hot start as well, leading the team in batting average (.400), runs scored (4), total bases (7), slugging percentage (.700) and on-base percentage (.500). Porter is also tied for the team lead in hits with four.
Although early in the season, OSU might need more production as a team if it wants to contend for a Big Ten title. In their first three games, the Buckeyes are only hitting .232 and have been outscored 20-11. Their pitchers have an ERA over five and they have committed six errors in the field.
Beals said in order to get better as a team, the Buckeyes will need to improve in a couple of areas.
“We need to improve our mental toughness in tight games. Sometimes we worry about losing a game instead of worrying about how we’re going to win the game,” he said. “That’s the one thing, and I just think we need to improve our consistency. We play very, very good at times and we struggle at times. Great teams are consistent.”
OSU will travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., for the Snowbird Baseball Classic to play a pair of two-game series against South Dakota State Friday and Saturday and Mount Saint Mary Saturday and Sunday. OSU is scheduled to play the Jackrabbits Friday at 4 p.m.