Todd Avery / For The Lantern
Coming off its fifth consecutive win, the surging Ohio State baseball team will try to extend its winning streak at the Bright House Invitational.
After starting the season 0-2, the Buckeyes (5-2) seem to be putting things together, leading the Big Ten in runs scored with 52 and placing third with a 3.38 earned-run average after the first two weekends of action.
Coach Greg Beals said he has been pleased with the all-around play of his team to this point.
“I think we’ve done a little bit of everything. We’ve been able to establish the running game on offense. I think our starting pitching this past weekend was solid and the one game we didn’t get great starting pitching, we had great bullpen work,” he said. “We’ve just been able to establish the things that we really want to establish which is our base running, hitting doubles and pounding the strike zone with first pitch strikes with our pitching staff. Whenever we had a problem with one phase, something else picked it up so we were able to pick each other up also.”
The Buckeyes swept the weekly Big Ten awards as sophomore catcher Aaron Gretz won Big Ten Player of the Week, redshirt senior pitcher Brad Goldberg earned his second-consecutive Pitcher of the Week award and freshman infielder Troy Kuhn took home Freshman of the Week honors.
In three starts over the weekend, Gretz went 5-for-10 with three doubles, six runs scored and three RBI. He is the first Buckeye to earn Big Ten Player of the Week since junior pitcher and first baseman Josh Dezse won the award on May 2.
“It’s definitely a big honor considering all the great players in the Big Ten,” Gretz said. “To be named player of the week, you know, it’s a great honor but more importantly our team won four games in a row last weekend, so that’s the main thing.”
Goldberg won his second game in as many starts, tossing 6.1 scoreless frames and striking out a career-high 10 batters in a 13-2 win against Mount St. Mary’s Saturday. In his 13.1 innings of work this season, he has yet to surrender a run, giving up just two hits and tallying 17 strikeouts.
Making his first two collegiate starts, Kuhn went 6-for-8 with four RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Senior infielder Kirby Pellant said that the key to the team’s hot streak can be accredited to its unity.
“Everyone’s buying in,” he said. “Our confidence, starting from the top of the order to the end of the order, has been huge. This year our team has really been picking each other up. We’ve been really supporting everyone at bat, pitching and defensively. If a guy messes up then we’re right there to pick him back up. That’s been the key so far.”
But in order to keep the team’s streak alive, Beals said the team needs to maintain a certain mentality.
“I think we have to develop a kind of a swagger about ourselves, a confidence level that knows that we can do it day in and day out and understand that there’s going to be a point of adversity in a game and in the season,” Beals said. “We need know that we can work through that adversity and still succeed on a given day.”
The Buckeyes will look to stay hot when they travel to DeLand, Fla., over the weekend to take on Connecticut, Stetson and Central Michigan in three consecutive days. The first game is set for Friday at 1 p.m. against the Huskies.