The past series for the Ohio State baseball team was like riding a rollercoaster. It climbed that first hill and got to the peak with a comeback win against then-No. 16 Southern Miss Golden Eagles, then zipped to the valley with a loss to an Eastern Michigan team that was 3-8.
The Buckeyes (7-4) will try to reach the peak and sustain the ride when they travel to Conway, South Carolina, to play in the Coastal Carolina Tournament.
“We’ve got talent,” Ohio State junior second baseman Brady Cherry said. “[Beating Southern Miss] wasn’t a fluke. We’ve got to be able to maintain the same level of intensity every day.”
Upon arriving in Conway, Ohio State will face High Point (5-6) twice before taking on No. 24 Coastal Carolina (10-3) for two more games. The two teams present very different sets of challenges for the Buckeyes.
The Panthers have a losing record in a season full of ups and downs. Losing their first three games, the Panthers rebounded with a four-game win streak before losing three of the next four.
High Point’s top starting pitchers, sophomore Drew Daczkowski and senior Jordan Sergent, possess a sub-3.65 ERA this season. The pair is supported by a defense with a .966 fielding percentage on the year.
Scoring runs for the pitching staff has proved to the the issue, with the team posting a combined .243 batting average. Despite the team’s collective struggles, redshirt junior catcher Daniel Millwee has found success. Beginning the year off the bench, Millwee went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in his first start against North Carolina A&T and never looked back. He is batting .400 with a pair of home runs and 13 RBIs, all team-leading statistics.
“We need to make sure we take care of High Point,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We can’t look ahead to Coastal Carolina.”
Junior Connor Curlis, who is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 16 strikeouts, will again lead off the weekend for the Buckeyes. Redshirt senior Yianni Pavlopoulos (1-1, 2.84 ERA) will go Saturday, moving ahead of junior Ryan Feltner (1-0, 6.75) and redshirt senior Adam Niemeyer (0-2, 8.03) in the rotation for this weekend.
“We’re looking at matchups as much as we’re looking at one, two, three, four in a rotation,” Beals said. “High Point’s got a high level of right-handed hitters in their lineup, Pavlopoulos bodes better against a right-handed hitter.”
Ohio State plays the High Point Panthers at 11 a.m. Friday and again at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Buckeyes take on No. 24 Coastal Carolina as the second half of a doubleheader at 3 p.m. Saturday, and then again at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Chanticleers bat .290 as a team, with six starters sitting above the .300 mark. Perhaps the most exciting hitter isn’t even among those six, senior first baseman Kevin Woodall Jr. Why? He’s one of just seven players in the country to have hit seven home runs to this point in the season.
There’s a good chance the Buckeyes will face junior Jason Bilous in the first meeting between the two squads, a pitcher who is holding hitters to a .176 batting average. Plate discipline could be a key. Bilous leads the 2016 national champions in strikeouts, but also leads them in walks — more than twice as many as anyone else on the team in the latter category.