COLUMBUS, Ohio – After concluding its fourth-consecutive road trip to start the 2020 season with a 3-2 mark over five games in Florida, the Ohio State baseball team saw its season come to an unexpected end after the Big Ten Conference cancelled all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year because of the worldwide, Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Buckeyes (6-8), who played their first 14 contests on the road, were set to open their home schedule against Liberty last Friday night before the news broke Thursday.
“Life got real for a bunch of guys in our locker room,” Greg Beals, the Buckeyes’ 10th-year head coach, said of the cancellation. “While baseball is such a big part of our life…it’s not our whole life. The decisions that were made had life implications, so reality punched us in the gut. It was a tough day, and an emotional day for 35 guys.
The next step is to let the dust settle, wrap our minds around this, and then attack the future,” Beals added. “We learned that all players will be granted an additional year of eligibility from the NCAA because of this, so that’s some good news. The most important thing out of this decision to me is that of the individual player. Those guys graduate every year and move on, but now some will have another, different opportunity to continue playing baseball.”
Multiple Buckeyes were off to a hot start through the first 14 games while a handful of others were just getting things going over their five-game swing in the Sunshine State to end the season.
Junior catcher Dillon Dingler was tied with Indiana’s Grant Richardson for the Big Ten lead with five home runs and his .760 slugging percentage ranked second in the conference and 23rd nationally. Dingler hit all five of his long balls in the last five games, going 10-for-21 while adding two doubles, 11 RBI and eight runs scored. The North Canton, Ohio, native posted an 1.828 OPS in his last five games and was riding a team-best seven-game hitting streak. In the Buckeyes’ win at North Florida March 10, Dingler became the first Buckeye in three years to hit three long balls in one game.
Redshirt sophomore Seth Lonsway also ranked among the best in the Big Ten and nationally when the season came to a halt. The left-hander led the nation with 21.0 strikeouts per nine innings and tied for second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally with 42 total strikeouts. Through four starts, Lonsway was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and the 42 strikeouts while limiting opponents to a .175 average in 18.0 innings pitched.
As a team, the Buckeyes led the country with 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings ahead of Texas A&M’s 12.5. In addition, junior catcher Brent Todys ranked 23rd nationally with 1.08 walks per contest and senior right-hander Joe Gahm led the Big Ten with nine appearances, including seven scoreless outings on the mound.
A number of other Buckeyes had started to put together solid campaigns including:
Sophomore third baseman Nick Erwin
– 7-for-16 with a home run, seven RBI and three runs scored during five-game hitting streak to end the season
Sophomore outfielder Nolan Clegg
– 8-for-17 (.471) with three doubles, four runs scored and an RBI in his last five games, upping his batting average to .333 during a five-game hitting streak
Junior left-hander Griffan Smith
– 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched over four starts
– Allowed one earned run while striking out 10 in 11.1 innings pitched in last two starts
Sophomore right-hander Garrett Burhenn
– 12.23 strikeouts per nine innings ranked seventh in the Big Ten while 29 total strikeouts ranked sixth
– 7.25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked third in the conference
– 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 13 K, 0 BB in 13-1 win over Harvard in last appearance March 7
Senior first baseman/outfielder Conner Pohl
– Hit safely in last five games, going 6-for-20 with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and three runs scored
Junior utilityman Sam Wilson
– Was riding a six-game hitting streak (8-for-22) with a double and three RBI to end the season