An unproven Ohio State squad will begin its 2019 campaign in Florida.
Ohio State will face off against Seton Hall in a three-game series as part of the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. The series begins Friday and will feature two talented pitching staffs.
Ohio State comes into this season with plenty of unproven talent on the mound. The early part of the season will provide much needed experience to some young arms that have not seen a lot of game action.
“[There is] nothing quite like real game. Different colors for the opponent on the other side. Fans. Scoreboard. The whole nine yards. You can’t simulate that part,” head coach Greg Beals said. “We’re as ready as we can be with a young pitching staff for that element though.”
The blue and white uniforms Ohio State will see across the diamond will feature a strong pitching staff led by junior Ricky DeVito. The 2018 Big East Pitcher of the Year boasted a 1.88 ERA and punched out 67 batters for a team that ranked 16th in the country in strikeouts per nine innings.
Although the Pirates lost their then-senior closer Matt Leon and two starters from the previous season, Beals is certain Seton Hall will not lack confidence in its staff.
“I think they probably feel pretty good about their starting rotation. We are going to see quality starting pitching for sure,” Beals said.
The Pirates are coming off a 30-20-1 season, in which they finished No. 2 in the Big East.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Seth Lonsway will make his first collegiate start Friday for the Buckeyes.
“[Lonsway] throws hard. He’s got a pretty dirty curveball,” senior second baseman Kobie Foppe said. “As long as he just stays consistent with that fastball and keeping it within the strike zone, I think that he is going to have a great year and throw a lot of strikes and have a lot of strikeouts.”
The Ohio State pitching staff will go up against a Seton Hall offense that lost a lot of fire power from a season ago.
Then-senior Rob Dadona posted a .323 batting average, and the other three Pirates that posted an above .300 batting average in 2018 have since moved on from the team.
Beals emphasized the need for the defense and offense to back up the pitching staff.
“With a young pitching staff, we are going to need to support them. We’re going to need to support them by making plays,” Beals said. “We’re going to need to support them by scoring some runs and creating some space, so they can settle into ball games.”
These early games will serve as a leaping off point for the rest of the season. Sophomore pitcher Griffan Smith noted the importance of the early trips to Florida and Texas.
“I think we set the tone in those first few weekends for the rest of the season,” Smith said.
Although Ohio State comes into the season with an inexperienced pitching staff and a veteran defense, Beals wants the season to be approached by the collective unit.
“It’s a team effort,” Beals said. “This season is not going to be about returning starters on the offense and defense and a young pitching staff. It’s going to be about the Ohio State Buckeyes. We know who we are. We know what we have got to do, and we are going to play together.”
Ohio State faces off against Seton Hall in Port Charlotte, Florida, at 2 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday.