Todd Avery / Lantern photographer
In college baseball, a team’s best pitcher usually starts the Friday night game of a weekend series to begin the series with a win. For Ohio State baseball (22-18, 7-8 Big Ten) that ace is sophomore transfer, Jaron Long.
Long, in his first year with the Buckeyes, started the first game of each weekend series in Big Ten play this season. Long said he likes being the Friday-night starter for the Buckeyes and starting the series off on a good note.
“It’s definitely a nice honor,” Long said. “Any time you can win on Friday it makes it a lot easier and kind of puts (the other team) on their back heels and press a little more. Any time you can win on Friday it’s great to set the tone.”
OSU baseball coach Greg Beals said Long is “our guy” after Long pitched a complete game in a 10-2 win against Nebraska April 13.
“He’s proven that he’s our guy,” Beals said of Long, who is from Scottsdale, Ariz. “He’s earned the respect and confidence of our team.”
One of Long’s teammates, junior catcher Greg Solomon, said Long has had a good season.
“He’s been doing great for a long time now,” Solomon said. “I love catching him. He’s a competitor, and for him to know and have confidence in all his pitches is a great way for him to get people out. He’s a good player.”
Long began the season as a relief pitcher for the Buckeyes. Beals said after a good appearance, he knew Long had turned the corner as a pitcher.
“We knew that he had the ability and that he has a knack for knowing how to pitch,” Beals said. “It took us a couple weekends to see him out there doing it and putting it into play. Once we saw him at Georgia Tech, when we saw him in four or five innings in relief of shutdown baseball, we said OK this guy has it figured out.”
In his most recent start against Illinois Friday night, Long pitched six innings in a 9-1 loss and allowed five runs on nine hits. He also struck out five batters with two walks. On the season Long is 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA, has two complete games and 49 strikeouts to eight walks.
Beals said Long had big starts for the Buckeyes throughout the season and sees improvement in his game.
“He’s had big starts like Michigan on a Friday night in Florida as his first collegiate start,” Beals said. “He also had opening day at Nick Swisher field. (Swisher) is a big friend of his and his parents, so that was special for him. He also had opening day in the Big Ten conference. He’s had some pretty big starts and he’s quickly becoming seasoned.”
The Buckeyes won their last game Sunday, 10-4 ,against the Fighting Illini. OSU’s next game is at home Wednesday against Bowling Green at 6:35 p.m.