Marcus Ernst (28) makes contact with the pitch during the March 24 contest against Hawaii at Nick Swisher Field. The Buckeyes suffered a 15-3 loss. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The Lantern

In a pivotal point of the season, Ohio State will host its toughest test when rival Michigan comes to Columbus for a three-game series this weekend.

Ohio State (18-16, 2-4 Big Ten) will begin its series Friday against the leaders of the Big Ten. No. 25 Michigan (23-9, 4-1, Big Ten) has excelled in every aspect of the game this season.

The Wolverines will ride into the series with eight wins in their past 10 games. They are ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State is sitting at No. 9.

Despite the importance of the series in conference play, Ohio State will not dwell on the need to climb the conference ladder.

“It’s rivalry. Throw all the records out. Throw it all out,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said.

Michigan has the numbers to back up its record.

With a team ERA of 3.11, the best in the Big Ten, Michigan has dominated on the mound. The team has blanked opponents on six different occasions.

It all starts with the three starting pitchers for Michigan.

Junior pitcher Tommy Henry has a 1.67 ERA this season. His 6-2 record has been helped along by his 5.91 strikeout to walk ratio with an average outing of over 6.2 innings .

Michigan junior pitcher Karl Kauffmann is second on the team with a 2.29 ERA and has five wins.

The final weekend starter is sophomore pitcher Jeff Criswell. The right-handed pitcher has a 3.46 ERA, but he leads the team with 20 walks.

The offense for the Wolverines has contributed to their success, as well, leading the conference with a .290 average along with a .474 slugging percentage. Michigan also leads the conference with 73 doubles.

Junior outfielder Jordan Brewer leads the Wolverines with a .355 batting average, knocking in a team-high 33 RBI.

Brewer is tied with sophomore outfielder Jesse Franklin with nine home runs. The Wolverines have hit 36 home runs this season and average 6.84 runs a game.

Despite the overwhelming numbers, the Buckeyes are not shying away from the challenge.

“Losing to them isn’t an option, so we’re going to put our best foot forward,” junior right fielder Dominic Canzone said. “We’re going to do the best we can and stay within ourselves and keep battling.”

The rivalry is 165-105-1 in favor of Michigan, but Ohio State has won seven of the past nine meetings. Beals is 6-0 against Michigan at Bill Davis Stadium.

“There’s not a whole lot more you need to say than Ohio State, Michigan. Let’s go,” Beals said.

The series between Ohio State and Michigan will begin Friday at 6:35 p.m. This will be followed by a game at 2:05 p.m. Saturday and a finale at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.