Time: 6pm EST
Location: Chain O’Lakes Field in Winter Haven, FL (former spring training home of the Cleveland Indians)
Follow the Action: GameTracker and Live Audio (http://iuhoosiers.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/ind-m-basebl-body.html)
Projected Starters: Indiana – Blake Monar (2-0, 4.42 ERA), Ohio State – Alex Wimmers (3-0, 2.52 ERA)
Since tomorrow is the one and only regular season matchup against Ohio State for the Hoosiers, we thought it would be nice to preview the game for our loyal readers.
Ohio State comes into the game ranked 22nd nationally with the best record in the Big Ten at 13-2. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in team batting average (.357), slugging percentage (.573), runs scored (169), hits (213), runs batted in (153), and homeruns (26). However, Ohio State is not a very patient hitting team as they rank last in the Big Ten in walks with only 43 on the season. On the mound, the Buckeyes rank near the middle of the pack in almost every major statistical pitching category. Their team ERA sits at 5.57, and they are susceptible to the long ball as the Buckeye pitching staff has surrendered the most homeruns of any Big Ten team so far this season (19). Clearly, Ohio State wins a lot of games by simply outslugging its opponents.
At the plate, Ohio State is led by junior outfielder Zach Hurley and sophomore catcher Dan Burkhart. Hurley was ranked by Baseball America as the Big Ten’s third-best pro prospect, and he currently ranks in the conference’s top ten in batting average (.414), slugging percentage (.671), runs scored (18), hits (29), total bases (47), triples (3) and runs batted in (26). Meanwhile, Burkhart was the first true freshman to start at catcher for the Buckeyes since 1989, and he currently ranks among the Big Ten’s top ten in slugging percentage (.734), runs scored (19), hits (26), runs batted in (25), triples (3), and total bases (47).
On the mound, IU will likely face sophomore right-hander Alex Wimmers. Wimmers is 3-0 on the season and ranks in the top ten among Big Ten pitchers in earned run average (2.52), opposing batting average (.237), and strikeouts (33). In his last outing on March 13, Wimmers threw a complete game and struck out 15 against Pittsburgh, earning him Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week Honors. Wimmers will certainly be a tough test for the Hoosiers if indeed he does get the nod for the Buckeyes.
Freshman left-hander Blake Monar will be on the mound for the Hoosiers, so this could shape up to be a good ole’ pitcher’s duel. Monar, who was drafted in the 26th round by the Yankees in the spring, currently ranks third in the conference in opposing batting average (.185) and is first in hits allowed (12). He has only allowed one extra-base hit on the season (a double against Jacksonville State) in 18.1 innings pitched, and he will be looking to move his record to 3-0.
IU’s offensive prowess has been well-documented on this blog, so it will be interesting to see what prevails in tomorrow’s tilt with the Buckeyes. Will the Hoosier batsmen be able to score off of Wimmers as he comes off a very impressive performance against Pittsburgh? Will Monar be able to quiet Ohio State’s hot bats? Will the defense limit the errors that have plagued them in a number of games this season? Let’s hope that IU can build off of this morning’s well-rounded performance and add another victory to the win column.