Series Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes (19-8-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

By Ben Harris

In their second Big Ten series of 2016, Maryland (15-15), will play host to Ohio State this weekend on Friday and Sunday. Due to pending inclement weather, Saturday’s game has been pushed up, forcing a doubleheader on Friday.

A blistering hot Ohio State squad rolls into College Park, Maryland, for the first time in three-quarters of a century. Despite having their season-long seven-game winning streak snapped Tuesday by Kent State, the Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 14 games. Tuesday’s loss was their first in a midweek game since 2014 (16 straight wins).

Ohio State enters their first road Big Ten series holding the fourth-highest win total in the conference at 19-8-1. The Buckeyes pose a peculiar problem for Maryland: they both flex their offensive power and wreak havoc on the basepaths. To boot, their pitching staff has struck out more than another other in the conference.

Their two-pronged attack proves difficult matchup for a Maryland club that has allowed the second most steals (34) and most home runs (22) in the conference.

Leading the conference with 34 home runs, the Ohio State offense trots out five hitters tied for sixth or better on the Big Ten’s home run leaderboard, headlined by the league leader Jacob Bosiokovic (9).

Expect a slugfest this weekend as the Terps themselves have launched the third-most homers in the Big Ten.

The redshirt junior Bosiokovic is merely the Buckeyes’ top artillery. Third baseman Nick Sergakis – the only Big Ten hitter leading the conference in three different offensive categories (hits, doubles and total bases) – leads his team in batting average (.398) and on base percentage (.466). The only slash line category in which Sergakis ohio-state-seriesdoesn’t lead his team is slugging, where his .655 percentage is good for fifth in the Big Ten.

Ronnie Dawson, Baseball America’s No. 4 Big Ten prospect, is tied for tops on the team with 18 extra base hits with fellow outfielder Bosiokovic. Dawson is second in the conference with three triples on the year.

Ohio State ranks 28 in the country with 47 stolen bases. Only one other team in the top 50 has been caught stealing as few times as the Buckeyes (7).

The aforementioned pitching staff ranks top 10 nationally in both strikeout-to-walk ratio (sixth, 3.39) and walks allowed per nine innings (eighth, 2.54). All three probable starting pitchers for Ohio State have struck out at least 32 batters and walked nine or fewer.

Maryland’s head coach John Szefc will mix up the weekend rotation for the first time this season, slotting Mike Shawaryn in the Sunday spot and bumping up his two thriving sophomore arms. Taylor Bloom will start Game 1, with Brian Shaffer set to take the mound for Game 2.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

FRI at 1:30

ohio-state.png 11595753.jpeg  vs. 1Bloom  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo

LHP Tanner Tully (4-1, 2.53 ERA) vs. RHP Taylor Bloom (4-2, 2.36)

The first of two left-handers the Terps will face Friday is Tanner Tully. The junior earned his second win of the season after allowing two runs over 5.1 innings against then-No. 19 Coastal Carolina in late February. The newly promoted Taylor Bloom will open the series with the most innings pitched in the Big Ten (49.2) in search of his fifth win. Maryland has alternated wins and losses in Bloom’s starts this season, winning his Saturday start against High Point last weekend 13-5. If either starter receives the victory, it will tie the conference lead.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

FRI at 5:30

ohio-state.png 11593675.jpeg vs. 1Shaffer  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo

LHP John Havird (2-1, 3.86) vs. RHP Brian Shaffer (3-2, 2.74)

Usually Ohio State’s Sunday starter, John Havird will get the call for the back end of Friday’s doubleheader. A transfer from Mesa Community College in his second and senior season in Columbus, Ohio, Havird has transitioned to full time starter for Ohio State with 39.2 innings under his belt in seven starts. Brian Shaffer has been a revelation for Szefc this season, posting a 1.62 ERA in his last four starts. He will take the mound in the second game Friday, looking for his fourth win in his last five starts.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

SUN at 1:00

ohio-state.png 11595741.jpeg vs. 1Shawaryn  1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo

RHP Adam Niemeyer (2-1, 3.48) vs. RHP Mike Shawaryn (2-3, 4.15)

The redshirt sophomore Adam Niemeyer will start Sunday’s series final against Maryland’s former Friday starter Mike Shawaryn. Niemeyer has struck out 41 in 41.1 innings, walking just four. Shawaryn leaves his Friday role for the first time since his freshman year after struggling as of late. The junior has lacked command, allowing 16 earned runs in his last five starts. After tossing just one wild pitch in 116 innings last season, he’s thrown four in 31.2 innings this year.

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