Greg Beals was not worried about Ohio State’s chances of making the NCAA baseball tournament.
Ending the season with a No. 37 RPI ranking, navigating through the loser’s bracket to get to a semifinal game against No. 1 Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes were in a prime position to earn its first national tournament bid since 2016.
However, without any control over whether a tournament bid was in his team’s future, there was a level of anticipation as the names on the bracket were being read.
“I felt really good about our chances coming into today, but your destiny is in the hands of a committee. So you are not 100 percent, you don’t feel great,” Beals said. “So, when you see your name up on the board, a pretty good fist pump went out and then I went into immediate competitive mode.”
Ohio State will travel to Greenville, North Carolina, as a No. 3 seed to take on No. 2 South Carolina in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes will join No. 1 East Carolina and No. 4 University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Greenville regional.
Right-handed pitcher Seth Kinker said there was a collective excitement between him and his teammates when Ohio State’s name popped up on the bracket.
“There were a lot of different projections and you look at those projections and you don’t really know where you are going to go,” Kinker said. “Then you finally see it and you are like yeah, that is satisfying and now you can take the weight off your shoulders.”
After losing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to Purdue, the Buckeyes, much like their 2016 conference tournament run, eliminated both Iowa and Michigan in the loser’s bracket before eventually falling to the Golden Gophers in the semifinals.
Even though the team came out of Omaha without a conference championship, the mentality stays the same for Ohio State heading into its regional.
“After we lost our last game in the Big Ten Tournament, [Beals] said, ‘Look, this season is over now. This is a start of a new season,’” senior infielder Noah McGowan said. “Everyone is starting out 0-0 basically and the goal is to end your season with a win, so that is our mindset going into the regional.”
McGowan said the two wins against the Hawkeyes and the Wolverines created a belief in the Ohio State locker room that they can play with anyone in the nation, a confidence that whichever team the Buckeyes face in the NCAA tournament will be one they can keep up with.
That is where Beals’ mind went as soon as he saw his team’s name on the screen. Amidst the cheers and celebration by his players and coaches, Ohio State’s head coach delegated game plans to each of his assistant coaches for the potential opponents in the regional.
For Beals, he is excited to be in the NCAA tournament. Now, he knows he and his team have a job to do.
“We are certainly very, very happy to be in the tournament, but, make no mistake about it, we are going to East Carolina to win a regional,” Beals said. “That’s our mission.”
No. 3 Ohio State will open up tournament play at 2 p.m. Friday against No. 2 South Carolina.