COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball team opens Big Ten play this weekend against the defending Big Ten regular season champion Nebraska at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes (17-7, 0-0 B1G) have won nine of their last 10 games, while the Huskers (13-12, 1-2 B1G) travel to Columbus after dropping a midweek contest at Creighton last Tuesday.
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. The game Friday will be live on BTN and BTN2Go. Game Nos. 2 and 3 will be on BTN Plus ($). All three games of the series vs. the Huskers can also be heard on AM 1460 ESPN.
– Ohio State is 17-7 overall heading into the first weekend of conference play. The Buckeyes are 6-1 at home.
– Last time out, the Buckeyes blew out Toledo, 19-4, last Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium. It marked the longest home margin of victory by an OSU squad in exactly 10 years. Conner Pohl went 3-for-3 with a home run and a career-high six RBI, while Jake Vance picked up his second win of the season.
– The team is hitting .298 as team with 74 extra-base hits and 20-for-24 in stolen bases.
– The team ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring (7.79), on-base percentage (.394), runs scored (187), RBI (171), walks (125), second in batting average (.298), hits (253), doubles (47) and third in slugging (.441) and home runs (21).
– The OSU pitching staff has combined for a 3.85 ERA, which is fourth-best in the league. The group has collected 195 strikeouts, which is third-best in the conference.
– Senior Noah McGowan is leading the team with a .404 average. He is tied with Dominic Canzone with the most hits in the league (38). He is second in the Big Ten in RBI (32) and runs scored (26). The OSU first baseman is third in batting average, slugging (.681) and on-base percentage (.478). McGowan was named National Player of the Week to open the 2018 campaign.
– Canzone is first in runs scored (27) and hits (38) and fifth in batting average (.365). Senior Tyler Cowles is fifth in RBI (25) and seventh in hits (31).
– Junior starting pitcher Connor Curlis is 4-0 with a 3.45 ERA with 37 strikeouts and nine walks in 34.1 innings pitched.
– Senior reliever Seth Kinker is 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 10 appearances. The Senior CLASS Award Candidate is the only pitcher in the nation with at least four saves and four wins.
– The 2018 Buckeyes return 22 letterwinners this season, including 13 members from the 2016 Big Ten championship team. The team welcomed 10 newcomers in the fall.
– The Scarlet and Gray racked up the frequent flyer miles, opening the 2018 season with 17-straight road games. The Buckeyes were in state of Florida two times and also visited Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina. The team flew a combine 7,516 miles across the country over the first five weeks of the season.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
2018 Record: 13-12
Team Stats: .260, .30 2B, 13 HR, 13-for-16 SB
Top Hitter: Scott Schreiber, .364, 24 R, 36 H, 8 2B, 6 HR, 22 RBI
Top Pitcher: Luis Alvarado, 1-2, 3.24 ERA, 34 K, 12 BB, 33.1 IP
Last Time Out: Loss at Creighton, 3-1
22ND SEASON AT BILL DAVIS STADIUM
Ohio State is 352-183 all-time at Bill Davis Stadium for a fine .655 winning percentage. Ohio State is 180-111 vs. the Big Ten Conference at home.
HOME, SWEET HOME
– Ohio State is hitting .314 with 16 doubles, four doubles, four triples and four home runs.
– The team is outscoring opponents, 58-28, in seven games at Bill Davis Stadium.
– Canzone is hitting .481 with 11 runs scored and eight RBI, while Brady Cherry has five doubles, one triple and six RBI. Cowles has driven in a team-high nine runs.
– The OSU pitching staff has combined for 2.82 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 67.0 IP. Kinker is 2-0 with 12 strikeouts and no walks in 13.1 innings pitched.
SCOUTING THE HUSKERS
Nebraska is 13-12 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten play. The Huskers dropped two of three games at home to Minnesota last weekend in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskers are hitting .260 as a team with 30 doubles and 13 home runs, while the NU pitching staff has a 4.62 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 220.0 innings pitched. Scott Schreiber leads the team with a .364 average with eight doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI. Luis Alvarado is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched.
LAST TIME OUT
The Buckeyes blew out in-state foe Toledo, 19-4, to push to 10 games over the .500 mark for the first time this year at 17-7 overall. The midweek win over the Rockets (6-15) marked the biggest home margin of victory in exactly 10 years since the 2008 squad beat Penn State, 15-0, March 28, 2008. Sophomore third baseman Conner Pohl led the charge, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, home run and career-high six RBI. Senior first baseman Noah McGowan also had a three-hit game with two runs scored, two RBI, one walk and one double. Junior second baseman Brady Cherry scored three times and the two Buckeye catchers of Jacob Barnwell and Dillon Dingler drove in a combined five runs. On the mound, sophomore right-handed starter Jake Vance improved to 2-1 in a controlled start, throwing 4.1 innings on one run, no earned, with one walk and three strikeouts. He scattered four hits in his second start of 2018.
NATIONAL STAT RANKINGS
Ohio State ranks in the Top 50 in the nation in several statistical categories, including 16th in scoring (7.8), 23rd in runs scored (187), 25th in batting average (.298), 35th in on-bae percentage (.394), 38th in slugging (.441), 39th in walks (125) and 43rd in hits (253).
Noah McGowan is 21st in the country in RBI (32), 16th in RBI per game (1.33) and 39th in total bases (64). Dominic Canzone is 41st in runs scored (27) and 48th in hits (38).
The team ranks in the Top 3 in multiple categories, including first in scoring (7.8) and on-base percentage (.394) and second in walks (125), batting average (.298) and hits (253), third in ERA (3.85), slugging (.441) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.2).
McGowan sits in the Top 5 in seven different batting categories: second in RBI (32), hits (38), doubles (9) and runs scored (26), third in batting (.404), slugging (.681) and on-base (.476). Canzone is first in runs scored (27) and second in hits (38). Cowles is fifth in RBI (25) and seventh in doubles (8). Cherry is second in doubles (9) and Pohl is seventh in RBI (24). On the mound, Curlis is third in wins (4) and Kinker is third in wins (4) and fourth in saves (4).