'This is a group worth following': New-look Ohio State baseball returns with winning formula
Fifteen games into his Ohio State baseball coaching career, Bill Mosiello already had something tangible to remember it by.
In the Buckeyes’ team meeting room at Bill Davis Stadium sits a large, leather wrestling-style belt, awarded for their first-place finish at the Frisco College Baseball Classic. OSU won the round-robin tournament by sandwiching a loss to California between victories over Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
“I actually thought it was a joke at first,” Mosiello said. “But I wouldn’t mind hoisting a few more of those.”
The belt marked a turnaround. After losing five of its first seven games, Ohio State went on a tear and brings a winning record into its home opener against Dayton Friday night.
But Mosiello isn't satisfied with the early-season results. They don't match his sky-high expectations for the program, and he admits he dreamed the Buckeyes would enter their home opener undefeated and ranked in the top 20 nationally.
“You couldn’t have exceeded what I believe we could do,” Mosiello said. “So of course it’s crushing now to me, but it’s part of it. You are where you are, and you have to continue to get better.”
Mosiello is trying to bring the same winning culture he felt as an assistant at TCU to his new home.
And with the Buckeyes, Mosiello is starting with the same formula.
What Bill Mosiello learned from TCU football
The idea was simple: Just do what TCU football was already doing.
As a member of the Horned Frogs’ coaching staff from 2014-22, Mosiello would walk through the school’s football offices, seeing the team’s plan to win each Saturday, outlining what the Horned Frogs needed to do week in and week out to be successful.
“So I came up with my own formula,” Mosiello recalled.
For Mosiello, success in baseball means emphasizing patience at the plate and aggressiveness on the base paths, while also limiting mistakes on defense.
That formula helped win seven Big 12 titles in nine seasons along with four College World Series appearances.
So when Mosiello took over at Ohio State, he brought the same approach, devoting an entire wall in the team meeting room to a game-by-game progress report on walks, errors and stolen bases. He also measured the “Extra 90,” which is his phrase for runners getting on or moving up bases based on mistakes made by opposing defenses.
Last season, Ohio State had the second-fewest number of stolen bases and stolen base attempts in the Big Ten while posting the worst fielding percentage in the conference and allowing 6.49 earned runs per game.
These areas remain a work in progress. Going into the weekend, Ohio State's batters have drawn 91 walks, the third most in the Big Ten. OSU has attempted to steal a base 30 times, and there are only three league teams that have attempted to steal more, two of which have played more games. Ohio State has also recorded 19 errors in 15 games.
Fifth-year infielder Marcus Ernst and his teammates may still be adjusting to their coach's system.
“There are things we’re still learning,” Ernst said. “Everybody is in this new program, in this new style of program we’re adapting. It’s just growth day in and day out.”
And while growth takes time, Mosiello's standards do not wane.
“It takes what it takes,” Mosiello said. “Now in my heart, I have to understand and accept it’s not always going to be perfect, especially when you have a new team, especially when you have a new group that’s trying to learn (and) play a different style of baseball. But baseball is baseball. You throw strikes, you put the ball in play and you catch the ball.”
What will Ohio State baseball look like during its home schedule?
Cole Andrews, who transferred from Miami (OH), is one of 18 newcomers to the program, either as a member of the freshman class or as a transfer. And he’s excited about what the Buckeyes will showcase against the Flyers in their first home game.
“Fans are going to see a relentless team,” Andrews said. “It’s something we preach day in and day out. Just a team that goes about the game the right way and does all the little things the right way.”
But even before Mosiello takes the field with Ohio State in Columbus, he knows people are already paying attention, getting consistent positive feedback from college coaches and recruits from across the country.
Mosiello knows Ohio State’s potential is not a secret. And he’s excited for Buckeye fans to see what his team can do.
“It’s going to be important they come and watch us early and say ‘Hey, this is a neat group, man,’ ” Mosiello said. “‘This is a group worth following.’”
Ohio State opens its home schedule 6 p.m. Friday against Dayton.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State baseball begins 2023 home schedule