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Baseball: Ohio State will host Northwestern in Big Ten home opener

The Ohio State baseball team huddles up prior to the start of their game against Hawaii on March 23. Ohio State won 7-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

The Ohio State baseball team will try and correct midweek mistakes when it turns its focus to Northwestern.

Bill Davis Stadium has not been kind to Ohio State’s foes this season, as teams have only been able to win three times in 10 attempts. The Buckeyes (16-13, 2-1 Big Ten) will hope to continue this trend against the Wildcats (11-14, 1-2 Big Ten).

Ohio State will play eight of its next nine games at home. Coming off a loss to Cincinnati, the team will be focused on the preparation for Friday’s game, head coach Greg Beals said.

“The mindset of the team is to have a really good practice [on Thursday] and come out with the mentality that we are going to get into somebody on Friday,” Beals said.

The Wildcats have fared poorly away from Evanston, Illinois. The team has a 5-12 road record this season.

Despite this struggle, Northwestern has won five of its past six games. This stretch included two shutouts and a positive run margin of 23.

Over this stretch, the team’s big players have stepped up.  

The offensive leader for Northwestern is senior shortstop Jack Dunn. The senior has hit .500 over his past six games to bring his batting average up to .380. He leads the team with 18 RBI and a .496 on-base percentage.

The second-best batting average on the team belongs to the senior’s younger brother: David Dunn. The redshirt freshman center fielder has hit .337 this season.

The duo has also combined to steal 15 bags throughout the year. Northwestern has stolen 40 bases in 49 attempts.

Like many of Ohio State’s past opponents, the Wildcats do not bring the threat of the longball to the table. Senior first baseman Willie Bourbon leads the team with only three home runs.

The same cannot be said for Northwestern’s opponents this season. As a team, the Wildcats have given up 24 home runs this season.

An individual specifically plagued by the longball is junior pitcher Hank Christie. The right-hander has allowed eight home runs, including four home runs against Missouri on March 9.

Junior pitcher Nick Paciorek has made the most appearances of any Northwestern pitcher with 10. Paciorek has a team-high three saves and a 2.45 ERA.

Ohio State is coming off a sloppy pitching performance against Cincinnati. The Buckeyes walked seven and hit two batters throughout the course of the game.

The focus is to get three wins against Northwestern, and this will be best accomplished by cleaning up the mistakes made in Wednesday’s game, according to Ohio State freshman pitcher TJ Brock.

“We want to come out pound the strike zone and hit fastballs,” Brock said.

The Buckeyes took two of three against Rutgers to open Big Ten play. The matchup against Northwestern will provide the Buckeyes another opportunity to grow and develop more consistency on the field.

“We have a lot to prove. We have a lot we can show people,” Ohio State freshman pitcher Mitch Milheim said. “I think the best is ahead of us for the Big Ten schedule.”

Ohio State will open the series against Northwestern at 6:35 p.m. on Friday. The following games will be played at 3:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

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