If the Ohio State baseball team wants to be considered as one of the best teams in the Big Ten, making a statement in its first conference road series will go a long way.
After getting swept in a three-game series at home by Indiana last weekend, the Buckeyes (18-10, 2-3) have a season-defining series this weekend at Nebraska (16-13, 1-2). OSU cruised in two midweek games against Ohio and Toledo that resulted in 31 hits for the Buckeyes, and coach Greg Beals said after feeling the pressure last weekend, the team has to step up against another one of the Big Ten’s top teams.
“They were picked to be second in our conference preseason, so we’ve got to go defend ourselves. We didn’t have a good conference weekend last weekend and we can’t afford to have two bad weekends in a row in conference,” Beals said.
Junior catcher Connor Sabanosh said the team realizes how important this weekend is if it wants to make a run at winning the Big Ten.
“It’s going to be a big series for us after the tough three losses against Indiana,” Sabanosh said. “We’re really looking forward to our hitting to continue, these last two games have been big for us pounding out some hits and some runs. So we’re looking forward to keep it going through the weekend.”
Pitching is key for OSU — the team is 13-0 when leading after seven innings and 17-2 when limiting opponents to five runs. Freshman pitcher Zach Farmer said heading into another Big Ten series, the pitchers have to build on the momentum they gained this week.
“We’re on a roll right now and we just have to keep it going,” Farmer said.
Against Indiana, pitchers were trying too hard and not sticking to the game plan, Sabanosh said.
“Last weekend I thought they left a few too many balls over the middle of the plate. We have our best success working down on the corners,” Sabanosh said. “I think if they can stick with their game plan working down on the zone, we’ll be pretty effective out there.”
In his first year at OSU after playing two years at a junior college, Sabanosh said he is excited to see what the Big Ten games look like on the road.
“I’m hoping for a big one. It’s been fun on the road,” Sabanosh said. “We’ve been fortunate. The Oregon series was a lot of fun, great energy in the crowd. I’m really looking forward to the Nebraska series and I’m expecting a big crowd.”
Beals said he expects the series to be exciting.
“It’s a very good college baseball atmosphere there,” Beals said. “We’re going to have a good challenge here. We’re going on the road to play a good team.”
First pitch in Lincoln is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Friday.