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Michigan baseball team hosts Ohio State for 2nd straight rivalry weekend series

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The Wolverines host the Buckeyes at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

After gaining momentum against a struggling Michigan State team this past weekend, the Michigan Wolverines baseball team looks ahead to this weekend’s series against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The series kicks off today at 1 p.m. at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor. The following two games will be played on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Buckeyes sit in 11th place in the Big Ten, coming into the series with a 2-8 conference record; their only two wins came against Michigan State. They have a 12-21 overall record, with very few competitive wins in their non-conference schedule. Their best wins came against West Virginia and Army. They have lost to several mid major teams in the process like Toledo, UNC Wilmington (three times), Campbell, Texas State (three times) and Dayton.

OSU’s last conference game was a 16-1 loss to Maryland, which was the final leg of the Terrapins’ sweep of that series. Michigan looks to continue that dominance in Ann Arbor.

Buckeyes to Watch

Two Ohio State bats stand out above the rest as its main offensive players to watch. The first is senior infielder Marcus Ernst, who is one of two players to start each of their 33 games. He has racked up a team-leading 43 hits in his 123 at-bats, earning him a .350 batting average, which is best on the team. He has also walked 28 times, making him a consistent threat to reach base.

Another Buckeye to watch is another senior infielder, Zach Dezenzo — the other player to start each of the 33 games the Buckeyes have played. Dezenzo leads the team in at-bats (131), home runs (9), runs batted in (28), runs scored (29), slugging percentage (.557) and total bases (73). He is hitting .275 this season.

As for the pitchers, left-hander Isaiah Coupet is the ace of the Buckeye’s staff. He boasts a 4.46 ERA in eight starts. He has thrown 40.1 innings, surrendering 31 hits, 20 earned runs and striking out 64 batters. Opposing batters are hitting a mere. 200 against him.

The bullpen is bookended by closer Ethan Hammerberg, who has been rock solid for the Buckeyes so far this year. He has a 3.38 ERA, and has struck out 35 batters in his 24 innings of work. He has three saves in his 16 appearances.

Keys to Victory

The Wolverines should take care of the Buckeyes if they play the same baseball they have been playing recently. The offensive surge they had against Michigan State last weekend should propel them into a series with a team of similar talent.

Michigan’s pitching staff, which only gave up 11 runs in the three games against Michigan State last weekend, must continue their dominance over lesser, top-heavy offenses. If they are able to do that and the offense continues to produce at the clip they have in the past two series, Michigan should have no problem taking its second straight rivalry series.