Looking for upgrades across the lineup and the spectrum of Buckeye baseball in 2024, opening weekend – opening day – will be something short of exhibition baseball.
Columbus, OH – Keep this in mind as the baseball Buckeyes depart in two days for Arizona and the start of the 2024 baseball season.
Opening weekend is no exhibition. Hard and fast, the reality of Mosiello baseball 2.0 is about to greet them head-on with a three-game set featuring Boston College (Friday), Brigham Young (Saturday), and 12-time national champion Southern California on Sunday.
This is how Mosiello wants it, this is how he planned it, and if it turns out to be a yellow brick road so much the better.
“There’s a lot of reasons for the strength of our early schedule,” he said last week. “We want to give our players the best experience in their lifetime, baseball-wise, that includes the best venues, and the best teams for the sake of our player development. I want to see what we’re made of.”
And that’s going to start with opening day opponent, Boston College, a member of the baseball-rich ACC, who made a strong showing last year in the NCAA regional before falling to Alabama in the regional final.
The Eagles finished 37-20, return a strong core, and are guided by first-year coach Joe Interdonato. They hit .271 as a team in 2023 and pitched to a 5.41 earned run average, and return 6’8″ starter John West, who posted a 5-3 mark last year in 13 starts (4.50 ERA) and 68 innings. Teammate Eric Schroeder posted a 6-4 in 62 innings, so the Eagles have some experienced depth on the mound.
Game two on Saturday features Brigham Young University, a perennial baseball success now playing in the Big 12 Conference, but fell to 24-28 last year in what turned out to he a development season. The Cougars hit – always have – posting a .284 team mark in 2023…but opposing teams hit, as well, batting .309 against the BYU staff, which pitched to a 7.41 earned average for the season. The Buckeyes last played BYU in 2022 in the Snowbird Classic, in Port Charlotte, Florida, losing 9-6.
Game three on Saturday features an interesting matchup between the Buckeyes and Southern Cal, coached by Andy Stankiewicz in his second year, who flipped the Trojans from last in the PAC 12 in 2022 (24-28) to fourth in 2023, finishing 11 games over .500 (34-23). Ironically, Stankiewicz and Mosiello not only know each other, but grew up together in the same southern California community, and share a life-long relationship on and off the baseball field.
And that’s where the niceties end, because USC returns a respectable nucleus of talent from their ’23 roster, and they’re projected to pitch well. Collectively, the Trojans held opposing bats to just a .244 average last year, while the USC offense hit at a .285 clip.
For the sake of comparison on all three games, the Buckeyes finished the 2023 season with a team batting average of .271, while the pitching staff made a miraculous turnaround after an unsettling start, finishing with a 5.63 ERA. The opposition ended up hitting .255 by the end of the season, down 40 points from the beginning of the Big Ten schedule in March.
Who will pitch this weekend?
In the video interview posted last week, Mosiello named Landon Beidelschies, Colin Purcell, and Gavin Bruni as his weekend starters for now, but cautioned, as well, that starting pitching could be a fluid journey before things settle out. Like with many college teams playing this weekend, it looms as the great unknown. And in that respect, it’s fair to think about these first three games in the respect of being an exhibition…because the game’s hard enough to play when you have thirty games under your belt. The unknown is over the top, for everyone.
However, the impact is far from an exhibition because in ‘Mo’s” words, recruiting, national exposure, and RPI relative to post-season tournament consideration are vital factors in who you play…anytime you play!
It’s called the MLB Classic, and according to what’s posted online the games will be televised on the MLB network.
It’s the only thing casual – predictable – about this year’s opening weekend!