COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State baseball team will take on Western Michigan in a four-game series starting Friday in Port Charlotte, Fla. First pitch Friday is slated for 3 p.m. at Charlotte Sports Park while Saturday’s doubleheader and the single game Sunday are set for noon at North Charlotte Regional Park.

The series kicks off the 84-game Snowbird Classic that will take place over the next month.

 This Week in Ohio State Baseball

Ohio State (1-2 overall; 0-0 Big Ten Conference) vs. Western Michigan (1-3 overall; 0-0 MAC)

Game 4

  • § Friday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m.
  • § Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Games 5-6

  • § Saturday, Feb. 26, Noon (DH)
  • § North Charlotte Regional Park, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Game 7

  • § Sunday, Feb. 27, Noon
  • § North Charlotte Regional Park, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Live Stats  Click on the Live Stats link above

Ohio State Today  Ohio State completed play at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge Feb. 18-20 with a 1-2 record and plenty of positive vibes in the wake of the 8-7 win in 11 innings over a strong St. John’s team that had led at one point, 7-1, and already owned convincing wins over Minnesota and Michigan in the tournament.

The win over St. John’s – a total team effort with 16 hits and eight consecutive scoreless innings by the pitching staff – came after Ohio State played well in a 2-0 Game 2 loss to No. 20 Louisville, a game where starter Dean Wolosiansky pitched 6.2 solid innings of baseball by allowing just one earned run and scattering five hits. Ohio State opened the Challenge by building a 5-0 lead against Cincinnati only to “down-shift” in the words of coach Greg Beals and ultimately lose, 11-5.

New In the Dugout  Greg Beals is in his first season as head coach of the Buckeyes after being named to the position June 17, 2010. He comes to Ohio State after eight seasons and 243 wins at Ball State.

Beals brought with him to Ohio State his pitching coach and recruiting coordinator the last seven years with him at Ball State, Ohio State graduate Mike Stafford. Chris Holick, from Westlake, Ohio and a Kent State grad, is the other assistant while Josh Newman, a 32-game winner for the Buckeyes in the early 2000s former pitcher for the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, is the team’s volunteer assistant coach. 

Scouting the Broncos  Under the direction of first-year head coach Billy Gernon, Western Michigan went 1-3 over the opening weekend of the season in Lubbock, Texas. Junior right-hander Brian Stroud picked up a win over Utah Valley, tossing seven innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. The Broncos are led offensively by infielder Patrick Duncan, who rinished the weekend with a .357 average (5-for-14) with two RBI.

Ohio State trails the all-time series with WMU, 37-56-1, but head coach Greg Beals held a 16-7 advantage over the Broncos while at Ball State.

Say Hey Dezse  Freshman closer/designated hitter Josh Dezse was named the Big Ten Conference’s first baseball Freshman of the Week for his efforts this weekend. Dezse led the team in batting (.583; 7 for 12) and he also made two relief appearances, including working 2.0 scoreless innings and picking up the win over St. John’s.

Strayer Out 4-to-6 Weeks  Jared Strayer, a key go-to reliever for the Buckeyes, has a broken bone in his lower right arm and will be sidelined from four-to-six weeks, according to Ohio State coach Greg Beals. “This is an unfortunate situation for Jared,” Beals said. “He has worked extremely hard to and we were counting on him to be one of our main guys out of the bullpen, and he was looking forward to being one of our key guys. This is the second consecutive year Strayer will miss time during the season. Last year he missed about a month after having arthroscopic surgery in March and, after he returned, he posted a fine 3.30 ERA in 27.2 innings with 15 strikeouts and only six walks.

Tyler’s Time  Tyler Engle had a fine opening weekend at the plate. He hit .500 (5 for 10) with three walks and a sac bunt for a team-best .643 on-base pct. He not only had two multi-hit games (after having nine total last year), but he had one two-hit inning: the fifth vs. St. John’s. He also scored a run and drove in a run in the biggest inning of the year for the Ohio State team. 

A Real Handful  Five of Ohio State’s relief pitchers combined for a 1.50 earned run average in 12.0 innings pitched. Brett McKinney (3.1 perfect innings pitched for a 0.00 ERA) and Dezse (3.0 IP and a 3.00 ERA) were most impressive pitching on consecutive days. Andrew Armstrong and David Fathalikhani didn’t allow a run in 2.0 and 1.0 innings pitched, respectively, and Jared Strayer had a 3.38 ERA after 2.2 innings pitched.

Seven First-Time Starters  CF Tim Wetzel, DH Josh Dezse, LF David Corna, C Greg Solomon, C Steel Russell, LF Joe Ciamacco and RHP Greg Greve each made their first Ohio State start last weekend.

Hitting the Road  The Buckeyes play their first 21 games on the road before the home opener against Xavier March 29. Included in the road swing are 10 games in Florida, three in North Carolina and eight games in California over Spring Break.

Vets and Rookies  Eighteen players who were with the team last year return and there are 15 student-athletes who were new to the team when fall baseball practice started. The returnees include 12 lettermen. Tyler Engle has made a team-high 140 starts with Matt Streng (91) and Brian DeLucia (77) next on the list. 

Buckeye Brothers  Two sets of brothers are on the team. Ben and Josh Bokor are true freshmen twins – Josh is older, by three minutes – from Gahanna and Brad and Blake Hutton are from Orlando, Fla. Brad is a junior and Blake is a true freshman.

Hear Games on 1460 AM The Fan  Commencing with the start of Big Ten Conference play, 1460 AM The Fan will carry 28 regular season games and all of the Buckeyes’ post-season tournament action. The veteran Buckeye announcer Frank Fraas will handle most of the play-by-play with Marty Bannister taking over for most of the road Big Ten games.

On Deck  The Buckeyes face Army, Western Carolina and Akron March 4-6 in Forest City, N.C.

The attached “Notes” pdf is like a bases-loaded situation of a13-13 ballgame in the top of the seventh inning: full of stats and notes and statistics and fun stuff to look at, study and think about.

Coach Greg Beals previews the upcoming weekend in the attached video clip.