May 3, 2018

Ohio State Heads to Illinois for Key B1G Series

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CHAMPAGIAN, Ill. – The Ohio State baseball team travels to Illinois for an important three-game Big Ten series Friday-Sunday at Illinois Field. The Buckeyes (28-14, 9-6 B1G) sit in sixth place in the league standings, one game behind the Illini (26-14, 10-5 B1G) with three weeks to go in the 2018 regular season.

Ohio State stands at No. 47 in the RPI, three spots behind Illinois. The Buckeyes won a home series over nationally-ranked Indiana two weeks ago in Columbus and took the final game of the series against No. 21 Minnesota last weekend. The Scarlet and Gray has had one of the toughest stretches in the conference over the last month and will face a Top 5 league opponent for the third straight weekend. Ohio State has gone 6-3 in its last nine league games.

WEEKEND ROTATION
Friday: LHP Connor Curlis (5-3, 3.67 ERA) vs. LHP Andy Fisher (4-1, 3.86 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Ryan Feltner (4-2, 3.90 ERA vs. RHP Quinn Snarskis (4-1, 3.13 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Adam Niemeyer (3-2, 5.92 ERA) vs. RHP Ty Weber (4-2, 3.52 ERA)

FOLLOW THE ACTION
Live stats links can be found by going to the schedule page of Ohio State Baseball on OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter via @OhioState_BASE. All three games will be streamed on BTN Plus ($). The series can be heard on the radio at AM 1460 ESPN. Matt Andrews and Bob Spears will have the call.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL

– Ohio State is 28-14 overall and 9-6 in league play heading into weekend No. 12 of the college baseball season. According to Baseball America, the Buckeyes have had the fourth-best turnaround in the country in 2018 after finishing 22-34 a year ago.

– The Buckeyes are 13-7 in away games and 4-2 in league road games.

– Ohio State is 102-101-2 all-time against Illinois. The Illini have the edge in Champaign, with a 54-46 record.

– Ohio State won two of three games against Ohio State in 2016, the last time the teams met. Illinois has won three straight series against Ohio State in Champaign dating back to 2011.

– Only seven members on the 2018 roster have played Illinois in their collegiate career. Seth Kinker has thrown 4.1 scoreless innings of relief with one strikeout and one walk in four appearances vs. the Illini.

– Senior reliever Seth Kinker is the Big Ten leader in ERA (1.08). He is 6-1 with nine saves in 20 appearances with 41 strikeouts to four walks in 41.2 innings pitched. He has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings of work

– Last time out in Big Ten play, Ohio State rallied to beat No. 21 Minnesota, 6-5, in walk-off fashion on Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium to avoid a series sweep by the Golden Gophers. Kobie Foppe and Noah McGowan both scored on an error at first base by Minnesota to end the game.

– Last time out, Ohio State fell, 12-11, at Ball State on Wednesday. The Cardinals scored nine unanswered runs in the home win. Kobie Foppe went 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored.

– Kobie Foppe is currently on a team-high 25-game reached base streak. It’s the longest reached base streak by a Buckeye in two years (Nick Sergakis, 28; 2016).

– The Buckeyes sit in the Top 5 in multiple Big Ten offensive categories, including first in RBI (263), second in batting (.292), runs scored (291), hits (428), third in on-base percentage (.388) and fourth in slugging (.423).

– The OSU pitching staff has combined for a 3.91 ERA, good for fifth in the league. The staff came into the week second in the conference in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.42).

– Senior Noah McGowan is tied for first with Bren Spillane in the Big Ten in doubles (17) and RBI (49), second in hits (64), third in batting (.390), third in slugging (.652), sixth in on-base percentage (.465) and seventh in runs scored (39) and home runs (8).

– Dominic Canzone is third in runs scored (41) and hits (61).

– Head coach Greg Beals is four wins shy of 500 in his coaching career. His career record sits at 496-395-1 in 16 seasons.

– The 2018 Buckeyes return 22 letterwinners this season, including 13 members from the 2016 Big Ten championship team. The team welcomed 10 newcomers last fall.

– The team had 26 OSU Scholar-Athletes for the 2017-18 academic year.

#VOTE4KINKER
Seth Kinker is one of 10 finalists for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced last week. Kinker, who has made 99 career appearances and leads the Big Ten in ERA at 1.08, is majoring in sport industry. He is from Huntington, W. Va., and Cabell-Midland High School. Fans can vote for Seth Kinker on the award’s official website at www.seniorclassaward.com through May 28. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner. This year’s Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2018 College World Series® in June.

OHIO STATE AS OF LATE
The team is 6-4 in the last 10 games. The team is hitting .279 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 55 RBI. Noah McGowan is batting .368 with two doubles, one homer and seven RBI, while Kobie Foppe is hitting .323 with six RBI. The OSU pitching staff has a 4.60 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 92.0 innings pitched.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
ILLINOIS
2018 Record: 26-14 (10-5 B1G)
Team Stats: .270, 82 2B, 43 HR, .435 slugging %, 53-for-66 SB, .982 fielding %
Top Hitter: Bren Spillane, .423, 41 R, 17 2B, 16 HR, 49 RBI, .954 slugging %, 14-for-20 SB
Top Pitcher: Joey Gerber, 0-1, 2.95 ERA, 36 K, 7 BB, 21.1 IP, 13 saves
Last Time Out: Defeated Southern Illinois, 9-1, in Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday

RPI UPDATE
Ohio State sits at No. 47 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings, which were released on Wednesday. The Buckeyes are the fourth-highest ranked team in the Big Ten. Ohio State has five wins over Top 50 RPI teams.

UP NEXT
Ohio State concludes the 2018 home schedule with a five-game homestand next week in Columbus. The Buckeyes host Campbell in a two-game midweek series May 8-9 before wrapping up the Big Ten home slate with a three-game series against Purdue May 11-13 at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. All five games will be streamed on BTN Plus ($)