Significant to the Buckeyes’ start is the fact of health, and early production from names like Trey Lipsey and Mitch Okuley. And can all the new faces pay dividends sooner, than later?
If you could change anything about the 2023 season from a physical perspective, it would certainly be the issue of health. As with every level of baseball, the old adage is particularly true when it comes to college baseball. The best ability…is availability!
Early injuries took a toll, and dictated more than just the everyday lineup for at least half the season – Trey Lipsey, Isaiah Coupet, Kade Kern, pitchers Tim Baird and Josh Timmerman. You have to have your guys to play and win.
Some of those injured are back restored, poised for another year, along with a six-year Buckeye who at his best has proven to be as hard an out as any lefthanded hitter in the Big Ten.
But we start with…..
Junior outfielder, Trey Lipsey…One of the biggest blows of 2023 was the loss of Trey Lipsey to the Buckeye lineup in the season’s first weekend.
He pulled a groin muscle running out a ball to first base and missed the next two months. Lost with him were some impressive numbers from 2022, his freshman season when Lipsey hit .293 with 7 homers, drove in 26 runs, and compiled an on base percentage of .461!
By consensus the fastest Buckeye on the roster at the time, he stole 14 bases in 17 attempts while playing a stellar left field, running down fly balls as easily as he beat out ground balls for hits. He played error-free baseball while recording 84 putouts.
Playing for less than a half season upon his return last year, he struggled to regain his stroke at the plate, but eventually hit .252 with 3 homers and 28 RBIs in just 163 at bats.
If he’s right in 2024, Lipsey represents one of the best on-base threats in the Big Ten, and one of the best corner outfielders. But his greatest ability will be, you guessed it…his availability!
Graduate outfielder, Mitchell Okuley…One of the most popular Buckeyes since arriving on campus, Okuley returns for a sixth year thanks to graduate school, and his Covid eligibility year.
A career .250 hitter as a Buckeye, that career has been marked by his ups and downs. In 2023, he never got untracked until the last three weeks in the season, finishing with a .237 average, drove in 34 runs, and led the Buckeyes in home runs with 9.
But in 2022, his junior year, he came on after another slow start to bat .375 for the final month of the season, with 8 homers, 30 RBIs, 37 runs scored, and finished at .287.
An excellent fielder, he has a career fielding mark of over .980 as the Buckeyes’ right fielder.
Okuley has enjoyed some monster days at the plate – a 3-hit performance against Illinois last April 30…a five hit series against Nebraska in 2022 in which he collected a pair of home runs…a pair of 3-hit games against Iowa and Maryland that same year…and three multi-hit games and three home runs in the final five games of the 2022 season.
An excellent student, he is a multi-year Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (2022, ’23), a three-time Academic All-Big Ten (2021, ’22, ’23), and a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete (2020, ’21, ’22, ’23)
The pride of Olentangy Liberty High School, he has graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Senior pitcher, Tim Baird…Like Trey Lipsey, righthander Tim Baird’s greatest ability in 2023 was availability. A hard thrower from North Royalton, Ohio, his Ohio State career has been marked by injury, which is unfortunate, because when he’s healthy he can throw, and he can throw hard.
But the ability to remain healthy has been his issue….he appeared in one game in 2023 before missing the remainder of the season.
However, in 2022 he did pitch in 17 games, striking out 25 hitters in 20.1 innings, compiling a 2-1 record.
In his most impressive Buckeye outing, he threw a scoreless inning against Wright State in 2022 in which he struck out four hitters – dominant.
Senior pitcher, Logan Jones…Logan Jones waited a long time to have his impact as a Buckeye, and when he got some opportunity in 2023 he made the most of it.
Jones, from Canton, Ohio, via Lincoln Trail College, made nine appearances for the Buckeyes, recording a save while compiling a 3.72 average.
A sinker/slider pitcher, he struck out 12 hitters over 9.2 innings.
A graduate of Canton Glenoak High School, he began his college career as an Ohio University Bobcat, making nine starts as a freshman with a 3-2 record.
In 2022, he pitched at Lincoln Trail Community College, making 12 appearances, had a 3-3 record, and struck out 46 hitters in 43.1 innings pitched.
Freshman infielder, Nolan Farley…Farley is another of the five West Coast recruits on the Buckeyes roster in 2024.
From Encinitas, California (San Diego area), he graduated from La Costa Canyon High School where he was a three-time letter winner.
A state champion at La Costa, he finished his high school career with a batting average of .330.
Projected to provide depth in the Buckeyes infield, he is the brother of Ohio State softball player, Kaitlyn Farley.
Junior infielder, Nick Giamarusti…In the process of finding more athletic depth for the roster in 2024, the Buckeyes found John A. Logan transfer Nick Giamarusti (Gee-uh-muh-roo-stee), from Chicago.
After an impressive high school career at Notre Dame College Prep, Giamarusti played 23 games in his college freshman season for the Pitt Panthers.
Transferring to John A. Logan Junior College in 2023, he put up some impressive numbers, batting .347, with 13 home runs, 20 doubles, 46 RBIs and 80 runs scored.
A multi-tool player, he runs well and stole 41 bases in 43 attempts last year.
In his official Ohio State roster biography, Giamarusti set a Prep Baseball Report Future Games 60-yard dash record (6.22 seconds).
Junior outfielder, Zach Freeman…The first time I laid eyes on Zach Freeman was in a 2022 fall baseball intersquad game and he dazzled, driving line drives to the gaps, chasing down balls in the outfield, and giving every indication that he’d be a core contributor during the 2023 season.
As it turned out he played in one game, one at bat, and had one double, a line drive to the gap in left center against Grand Canyon…before leaving the game with a back injury. He never played again in 2023.
But, he’s back, rehabilitated, with a desire to play and contribute. A transfer from the University of San Francisco, his tools (pre-injury) as an outfielder were impressive, plus he added the dimension of speed to the Buckeyes’ lineup. There are reasons why he came 3,000 miles east to play baseball.
He just needs to be healthy.