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Baseball: Tre Gantt tries to find his identity as a player

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Then-junior outfielder Tre’ Gantt is greeted by teammates outside the dugout after scoring a run over the weekend in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Surprise, Arizona. Credit: Courtesy of Press Pros Magazine

Junior outfielder Tre Gantt knows who he is as a baseball player. Now, as the Ohio State baseball team continues its rigorous baseball season, he is trying to refigure his identity offensively near the top of the lineup.

Since April 1, Gantt has a batting average of .192, crossing home plate only four times in those games. Losing five of their last eight games, the Buckeyes thrive when Gantt is excelling offensively, winning every game in which he has scored in during this stretch.

In 29 of his 33 games starting for the Buckeyes, Gantt has hit in the No. 1 spot. Through this, the centerfielder has grasped a better idea of what the leadoff man is supposed to do for his club.

“I think the main thing for a leadoff hitter is definitely getting on base,” Gantt said. “Getting on base is the most important thing and letting the guys behind you do their thing, move you over and hit you in.”

Redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff is one of those middle-of-the-order hitters who reaps the benefits of having Gantt on base.

“In that first inning, if we can get Tre (Gantt) on, it normally leads to good things,” Ratcliff said. “He’s really our spark plug and gets us going in games.”

Coach Greg Beals said Gantt’s style of play is perfect for the top of the lineup. Beals described him as a prototypical centerfielder, relying on his speed in every part of his game.

Once Gantt gets on base, his game revolves around creating havoc on the basepaths.

“Once I get on base, my speed really takes over,” Gantt said. “Whether that’s going from first to third on a base hit or scoring from second.”

Gantt shows his speed in multiple ways. He has seven doubles and two triples and is second on the team with 50 total bases. Gantt is also second behind senior shortstop Jalen Washington with six stolen bases on nine attempts.

Sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell usually doesn’t have to deal with Gantt on base as a catcher. However, Barnwell can see how valuable he is on the bases even from the batter’s box.

“When he gets on first base, you always have to be ready for him to take second base and even take third,” Barnwell said. “As a catcher, whenever you get someone like Tre on base, it totally changes how you have to approach controlling the running game.”

Struggling to get on base in these last couple of weeks, Gantt can attribute that to his

“My tendency is to get a little wild with my swing and try to do too much,” Gantt said. “That’s the main thing, trying not to do too much. Just know who I am and hit the ball and play hard.”

Volunteer video coordinator Matt Angle understands from past experiences what Gantt is going through. When he was an outfielder at OSU from 2005 to 2007, Angle played a very similar offensive game to Gantt, relying on on-base percentage and speed to be successful.

Drawing from video he has watched of Gantt throughout the season, Angle wants him to utilize his speed and contact ability a bit more in his at bats.

“Sometimes it’s just pitch selection, being a little bit more aggressive on the pitches that he wants to hit, staying in on the bunt a little bit longer,” Angle said. “Earlier in the year, he was getting out of the box a little too early and his speed is fast enough that if he just places it in the right spot in the field, it will work out down the line.”

Finding an identity is something that every baseball player goes through. Gantt says it is a priority to find your niche as a player and stay with it for the success of the team.

“I think everyone tries to push themselves a little too much and that’s when things start to go wrong,” Gantt said. “When everyone sticks to who they are as a player, everything will fall into place.”

When Gantt embraces who he is as a ballplayer, Beals said it only helps his team.

“When Tre goes, we go,” Beals said. “When he’s playing good, we are playing pretty good. He’s a key part of this ball club and we need him.”

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