One could sum up the Ohio State baseball team’s performance last weekend with two statistics: 35 runs scored in the first three games, and 12 fielding errors across all four.
With the exception of when it faced Oregon State pitcher Grant Gambrell in the final game of the weekend road trip, the Ohio State offense showed potential to be a machine this weekend in Surprise, Arizona. The Buckeyes travel there to take part in the Cox Diamond Invitational, where they will meet three teams that average at least six runs per game.
“I think everybody, at one point, was feeling like the ball that was coming in was a volleyball,” sophomore third baseman Conner Pohl said. “Everybody was spraying it to both fields.”
Moving forward, the Buckeyes (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten) have a lot of room for improvement on defense. Head coach Greg Beals said his infielders need to work on finishing plays, though he acknowledged early season blemishes are bound to happen.
“Early in the season we just haven’t had as many reps and live opportunity to take that ground ball with base runner running down the line,” Beals said.
Game 1: Nicholls State
Ohio State opens this weekend with a matchup against the Nicholls State Colonels (1-6, 0-0 Southland) at 3 p.m. Friday. The Colonels already have six games in the loss column, but four of those were decided by three runs or less.
Junior Connor Curlis, who is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA through two starts this year, will take the mound first for the Buckeyes on Saturday.
Game 2: Southern Miss
The No. 16 Southern Miss Golden Eagles (6-2, 0-0 Conference USA) will take the field against the Buckeyes at 4 p.m. Saturday
Taking the mound to start against an offense Beals called “strong” will be junior Ryan Feltner. The player rated as the Big Ten’s top prospect by D1Baseball.com prior to the season has a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings. Southern Miss has scored more than nine runs in a game all but twice this season, so Feltner will need to maintain control to keep the Buckeyes in striking distance.
Game 3: Eastern Michigan
The Eastern Michigan Eagles present an opportunity for the Buckeyes to keep producing at a high rate offensively. They have a team ERA of 9.09.
As a whole, the Eagles are sitting at 1-7 at this point in the season, though much like the Colonels, all but two of those losses were decided by two runs or less.
Starting for the Buckeyes will be redshirt senior Adam Niemeyer (0-1, 5.00 ERA), but fellow redshirt senior starter Yianni Pavlopoulos (1-1, 4.00 ERA) will split time with him, Beals said. It’s part of an ongoing competition.
“Those guys are gonna get two or three more chances to prove who’s gonna be the Sunday starter [for Big Ten play],” Beals said.