Ohio State pitching coach Mike Stafford, left, has the Buckeyes with the country’s No. 7 ERA
The numbers are staggering, statistics where one couldn’t be blamed for believing what’s read is a typo. Entering this weekend’s series between Illinois and Ohio State, the two nationally-ranked teams are led by two of the nation’s top pitching staffs.
The 2.31 collective ERA of Illini pitchers rank fifth in the county, Ohio State’s 2.59 mark is the seventh-lowest. Illinois is the nation’s fourth-best team in WHIP, Ohio State 14th and the Illini are the No. 3 team in strikeout-to-walk ratio, the Buckeyes No.14. Each team features an elite staff with the microscopic numbers fueling the ranking next to each team’s name.
With the two most recent Big Ten Freshmen of the Year toeing the rubber to open the series, Illinois junior left-hander Kevin Duchene squaring off against Ohio State sophomore southpaw Tanner Tully, runs are expected to be at a premium. As a clash with conference championship and national tournament seeding implications is set to begin, the men behind the prolific pitching prowess, Illinois assistant coach Drew Dickinson and Ohio State assistant coach Mike Stafford, are far from alike but each has arrived at the same point, leading a premier unit.