Despite winning seven of its past nine games, the Ohio State baseball team will try to do something this weekend that it hasn’t done since March 3: win a road game.
The Buckeyes have found their stride at home and will hope to continue their red-hot offense in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Friday when Ohio State (14-11) will open Big Ten conference play against Rutgers (6-15).
“We did it here at home,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “Next test is let’s take it on the road and do it at Rutgers.”
In their past five road games, the Buckeyes have been outscored 42 to 25. The team’s last road win came against Bethune Cookman when Ohio State defeated the Wildcats 16-9 on March 3.
Rutgers has not found much success this season, but the Scarlet Knights won both their games at home this season.
Despite a team batting average of .230, the future looks bright for Rutgers. The team’s top three batters are all underclassmen.
Redshirt freshman Tim Dezzi leads the Scarlet Knights with a .342 batting average. Despite his tendency to get hits, Dezzi has only knocked in seven runs on the season.
Leading the team with five extra base hits is center fielder Mike Nyisztor. The sophomore is hitting .307 on the season with four RBI. Freshman catcher Peter Serruto is the third and final player to hit above the .300 benchmark for the Scarlet Knights.
The Rutgers lineup, unlike Ohio State’s offense, does not contain power, hitting five home runs this season.
The Buckeyes have hit five times as many home runs, 12 of which came in their nine-game homestand.
To combat Ohio State’s explosive bats is a Rutgers pitching staff that has only allowed opponents to go yard eight times this season.
The staff is led by sophomore pitcher Harry Rutkowski. The ace holds a 2.50 ERA and is averaging just under six strikeouts a game.
Rutkowski allowed five earned runs in his first start on the season, but has only five earned runs combined in his past five starts.
The sophomore is coming off his best performance of the season against Indiana State. He was able to go seven innings and surrendered only one run.
Rutgers also has two strong relievers to lean on for success on the mound. Redshirt junior pitcher Steven Acosta holds a 2.40 ERA in 10 appearances.
Redshirt junior pitcher Tommy Genuario also boasts a strong resume this season. He has made 12 appearances out of the bullpen and holds a 2.45 ERA.
These pitchers will be put to the test against an Ohio State squad that hit .321 at home. Senior left fielder Brady Cherry hit .457 over the past nine games, and junior right fielder Dominic Canzone tallied three home runs and a .382 batting average over that same stretch.
“I feel like we’re getting it going again, and we are starting to really mesh together as a team,” junior pitcher Jake Vance said.
The Big Ten conference presents a new test for the Buckeyes, but the momentum built in their homestand is real, according to Canzone.
“The Big Ten is one of the hardest conferences to play in, but at the same time, we’re prepared,” Canzone said. “We’re ready to play, and we’re all clicking right now, so I think we’re going to have a good weekend.”
The Buckeyes will open up the three-game series with a 2 p.m. game Friday. This will be followed by a game at 1 p.m. Saturday and a finale at noon Sunday.