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Baseball: Ohio State faces hot-hitting, cold-pitching Xavier

Ohio State senior utility player Brady Cherry (1) swings at a ball during the game against Michigan on April 12. Ohio State won 10-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

The Ohio State baseball team will aim to end an up-and-down homestretch on a positive note.

Tuesday will mark Ohio State’s ninth home game in its past 10 games, and the Buckeyes (20-17, 4-5 Big Ten) have only won three of their eight games at Bill Davis Stadium over this stretch. A battle-tested Xavier (14-22, 5-1 Big East) squad will travel to Columbus for a bout with the Buckeyes.

After a five-game skid that included a sweep by Northwestern at home, Ohio State has righted the ship, to an extent. The Buckeyes have taken four of their past five games, including a big series win over rival Michigan.

Despite their record, the Musketeers have experience that could prove invaluable. Xavier has played No. 8 Louisville, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 17 North Carolina, going 1-6 in those matchups.

Xavier has shown the potential to play with top-flight teams. The Musketeers played a three-game series at then-No. 13 Texas where the run differential was only three.

In terms of Xavier’s offensive lineup, no single player sticks out; the strength is in the team’s balance. Five Musketeers are hitting within the range of .286 to .301.

Junior infielder and pitcher Conor Grammes leads the team with a .301 average. Grammes has started on the mound nine times to earn a 5.53 ERA.

Redshirt senior outfielder Jake Shepski has a team-high 24 RBI, while hitting .292 on the season.

Behind a team batting average of .265, the Musketeers have scored an average of 5.36 runs a game.

On the mound, Xavier has struggled mightily. With a team ERA of 6.71, the Musketeers only have two pitchers with an ERA below 5.50.

The pitching staff is prone to allowing the long ball, allowing 47 home runs this season.

This could prove advantageous for an Ohio State team that has hit 34 home runs this season.

Senior Sam Czabala leads the team with a 1.19 ERA and .147 opponent batting average. The left-hander has pitched 22.2 innings in 12 appearances.

The other pitcher with a sub-5.50 ERA is freshman Lane Flamm, who has a 3.55 ERA and a team-high four saves in 16 appearances.

Ohio State will host Xavier at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.

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