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Nebraska Baseball Series Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

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The Huskers head to Columbus for the first time since 2012

2016 Big Ten Baseball Tourney: Final Shots!

After a 13-2 midweek thrashing of the Omaha Mavericks, the Nebraska Cornhuskers 24-15-1 (7-4-1 Big Ten) hit the road for a conference series against the Ohio State Buckeyes 16-24 (4-8 Big Ten). Nebraska has hosted the Buckeyes three times, most recently 2015 with the Buckeyes taking the series in Lincoln.

Ohio State has had an unexpected rough time this season. Many had the Buckeyes easily in the conference tournament, but currently the Buckeyes sit in 11th place, a game and a half behind the current eighth seed Rutgers. Ohio State sits 164th in RPI, meaning a Nebraska sweep would be key for the Huskers to gain ground.

Taking a look at the Buckeyes statistics, they hit just .243 as a team. As a team they have tagged 31 long balls on the season and get on base at a solid .343 clip as they have drawn 171 walks as a team. Ohio State has struck out an eye popping 323 times.

Only a pair of Buckeyes hit over .300, with freshman Dominic Canzone leading the way with a .347 average. Canzone was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week the week of April 10th and has a .429 average over his last ten games. The other batter to watch would be Tre’ Gantt who bats a solid .310 while leading the Big Ten in walks with 27 on the season.

Ohio State has named Yianni Pavlopoulos their Friday night starter while Jake Post will get the start on Sunday. Pavlopoulous is perhaps the biggest question mark on the team as he shut down Oregon State and earned a win in the first weekend of the season. After that, he has been tagged and had his ERA inflate to 6.39. Nebraska should be able to take a Friday night game against a struggling Pavlopoulos.

As for Post, he is a starter that Darin Erstad and crew have seen before. The Huskers walked off post in 2014 when Tanner Lubach singled and drove in Blake Headley to complete a sweep of Ohio State. Ben Miller is the only Huskers who has seen Post and is 1-4 against him lifetime. Post has done well against weak teams this season, but struggles against offenses who have even a bit of life.

Ohio State has not named a Sunday starter. The list of options could include Connor Curlis, Austin Woodby, Adam Neimeyer, or another arm. No one out of the Ohio State pen except Seth Kinker has an ERA below 3.00. Kinker will be the closer, should that be needed. He has an exceptional 36 to 9 strikeout to walk ratio and is a solid relief pitcher in what is a weak bullpen.

Other things to note about the Buckeyes, are how poor defesivley they are. With 53 errors as a team, the Buckeyes are fielding just .965 compared to Nebraska who has 32 errors and fields .979. The left side of the Buckeye infield has combined for 25 errors between Jalen Washington and Brad Cherry so expect the Huskers to posssibly test both players this weekend.

After winning three of their first four series against Big Ten Tournament quality teams, this is a series Nebraska should sweep. Hohensee against Pavlopoulous is a matchup that Nebraska feels great about and Meyers on Sunday is undefeated this season. Burkamper against Post will be the matchup to worry about if the Huskers are going to get a sweep.