The Ohio University baseball team (1-4) returns to action on Friday as it heads to Cary, N.C. for the 2013 Irish Classic. The Bobcats will begin a three-game stretch against No. 24 Virginia Tech (Friday, 3:30 p.m.), Rhode Island (Saturday, Noon) and Massachusetts (Sunday, 1 p.m.). The 2013 Irish Classic will be held inside the USA Baseball Training Complex.
NOTING THE BOBCATS
-Freshman right-hander Jake Miller helped the Bobcats to their first win this past Saturday as he logged 8.0 innings, struck out seven and allowed just one run.
-Following his performance, Miller was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Pitcher of the Week.
-Miller's 3.46 earned run average is the lowest among all Ohio starters.
-Sophomore Brice Nikithser leads Ohio with a .375 batting average.
-Sophomore Jake Madsen and junior Garrett Black lead the Bobcats with six hits apiece.
-Ohio tallied 13 hits against Illinois and Boston College last week in the Keith LeClair Classic. Both hit totals are season-high marks.
-As a team, Ohio is batting .222, but has a solid .314 average with runners in scoring position.
-Rob Smith begins his first year as head coach, replacing Joe Carbone, who served on the bench for the past 24 years.
-Ohio returns six starters from last year's squad, which finished the year with a 28-29 record.
-The Bobcats were ranked in the top five of the Mid-American Conference in 12 offensive categories and 11 pitching categories at the end of the 2012 season.
-Ohio finished the year ranked second in the MAC in team ERA 3.73.
-In 2012, Madsen, Tyler Wells and Cody Gaertner all batted over .300 a year ago.
-Ohio lost all three of its starters from a year ago in the form of Jason Moulton, Brent Choban and Seth Streich.
-Ohio's 2013 schedule will feature six teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and four conference champions from a year ago.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK
Ohio went 1-2 last week at the 2013 Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., falling 11-6 to Illinois in the first game of its doubleheader. In the second game of the twinbill, Ohio was shutout for the second time this season as it dropped a 7-0 decision to New Mexico State. In the tournament finale, the `Cats dominated Boston College 8-1, leading the entire way. During the three-game stretch, Ohio batted .291 as a team and outhit its opponent 32-25. Junior Garrett Black led the offensive effort as he hit at a .462 clip. The Bobcat pitching staff tallied a 6.23 earned run average with freshman starter Jake Miller, leading the way with a 1.12 ERA.
Ohio will faceoff against Virginia Tech for the 23rd time in school history on Friday. The Hokies lead the all-time series 14-8. In the last meeting, Ohio dropped a 6-1 decision in Athens. Ohio's meetings with Rhode Island and Massachusetts will mark the first all-time meetings with the Rams and Minutemen, respectively.
SCOUTING VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies enter this weekend's tournament ranked in the latest Baseball America Top 25 Poll. Virginia Tech has not been ranked in the Top 25 since the end of the 2010 season. The Hokies earned the ranking after they jumped out to an 8-1 start. In its eight wins, Virginia Tech posted wins over Kent State, UNC-Wilmington, Holy Cross, Delaware and Radford. On Friday against Ohio, the Hokies will be in search of their fifth-straight win. Offensively, Virginia Tech is batting .326 as a team with sophomore catcher Mark Zagunis leading the way with a .432 batting average. On the mound, the Hokies have a staff ERA of 3.83. Virginia Tech starters have logged a combine 33.2 innings in six starts.
SCOUTING RHODE ISLAND
The Rams enter this weekend's tournament after dropping their first eight games. However URI's losses came against Nationally-Ranked squads Florida State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. In fact, Rhode Island will have played 10 of 11 games against ranked opponents after this weekend. The Rams are led by Preseason All-American Jeff Roy, who became the first-ever URI player to earn such accolades. In 2012, Roy was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Teammates Pat Fortunato, Pat Quinn and Tim Caputo were also named to the All-League squad a year ago and all three of them return to the fold this spring. Rhode Island was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Standings.
The Minutemen's trip to Cary, N.C. will be their first action of the 2013 season. UMass returns virtually all of its offense from last year with eight of nine position starters returning, the lone exception being four-year starting catcher Tom Conley. In addition, UMass brings back 87 percent of its runs scored, 86 percent of its hits and 82 percent of its RBI. Eight returnees had 100-plus at bats last year, with junior Rob McLam falling just shy at 98 at bats last season. McLam led the Minutemen in batting average last year at .337 (33-for-98) followed by assistant captain senior Rich Graef's .333 average (46-for-138). Fellow senior assistant captain Anthony Serino is the squad's top returning RBI guy with 25 last season. UMass was picked to finish 10th in the 2013 Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll.
Ohio remains in North Carolina next week as it heads to High Point for the start of a two-game series, beginning on Tuesday at 4 p.m.