After 11 consecutive games at home and a 12-2 record posted for the month of March, the Ohio State baseball team is hitting the road and looking to continue its offensive success.
Two of those home wins came against Toledo and Akron earlier this week. The Buckeyes (16-6, 2-1) are now set to jump back into conference play with a three-game series against Rutgers (7-14, 2-1), over the weekend in Piscataway, N.J.
Coach Greg Beals said he is confident in the team’s capability to win and is proud of the Buckeyes’ success so far.
“We have a four-game winning streak and we won opening weekend with Michigan State, 2-1, so we are in a good spot in Big Ten play,” Beals said. “It’s very early, but we are in a good spot.”
This weekend will mark the first meeting between the two schools in 11 years, and is set to be the first time OSU has visited Rutgers.
“We are excited about seeing a new campus in our conference, but most importantly, we have to go take care of business and win a road series,” Beals said.
Beals selected senior pitcher Ryan Riga to start in Sunday’s game against the Scarlet Knights. Riga has thrown 20 straight scoreless innings and is close to matching the school record of 22.1 innings set by Bob Spears in 1995.
“He’s a senior, he knows exactly what he’s doing and hopefully he stays consistent,” Beals said. “If he gives up a run, he gives up a run, but we are confident he’s going to give us a quality start.”
With nine positions on the field and many players eager to play ball, a few Buckeyes are fighting to stay in the lineup. However, junior first baseman Zach Ratcliff isn’t too concerned with the process.
“The big thing about it is just playing loose. Even if you play well, you could be sitting the next day so just go out there and have fun,” Ratcliff said. “At the end of the day it’s baseball, it’s a pretty fun game and you’ve got to stay loose.”
Ratcliff added that for OSU to accomplish its win total of 40 or more games, it will need to take Rutgers seriously.
“We know this year we have something special going,” Ratcliff said. “We have a lot of talent, we’ve got some young guys who are stepping up for us, too, and we definitely know we can make a run at the Big Ten hopefully in the postseason.”
First pitch against Rutgers is set for Friday at 3:05 p.m. at Bainton Field. Saturday and Sunday start times are scheduled for 1 p.m.