With a revamped starting rotation and a handful of fresh, new faces on the mound, Ohio State came into the season needing a steady hand behind the plate. The Buckeyes' catchers were expected to manage the staff, play solid defense, and hold opposing baserunners in check.
Offense was a secondary concern for Greg Beals' signal callers, but it turned out that it was with their bats that Ohio State's catching tandem made their biggest contribution on the season.
We continue our recap of the Buckeyes' season by taking a look at the men behind the masks.
Aaron Gretz, C
Ohio State entered the season with the luxury of having an experienced signal caller behind the plate to assist a very young pitching staff. Aaron Gretz came into the season having started 59 games at catcher in his first two collegiate seasons, The Minnesota product had also shown some pop with the bat, and it was hoped that his offense would improve.
Gretz started 33 games behind the dish for the Buckeyes in 2014, mostly against right-handed pitching, and put up solid offensive numbers. He batted .284 with 12 runs scored, seven doubles, and 12 RBIs. Gretz also displayed a quality arm on defense, throwing out 10 of 28 would-be base stealers.
As his final season in Columbus approaches, Gretz is likely to continue just as he has the past three, providing solid defense and leadership behind the plate and supplying offense against right-handed pitchers. The platoon situation that Beals put into play this season should be a feature in 2015 as well.
Connor Sabanosh, C
After an extremely successful junior college career in Arizona, Sabanosh arrived in Columbus slated to be the backup, but forced his way into the lineup on a more regular basis due to his approach at the plate. After winning a NJCAA DII Rawlings Gold Glove award a season ago, the offense was appreciated, if not expected.
Sabanosh hit .291 while making 25 starts behind the dish, adding 12 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, and nine runs batted in, while mostly playing against left-handed pitching. This production at the dish made a platoon situation possible for Beals, but Sabanosh's defense lagged a bit behind his bat, as he threw out just 6 of 27 baserunners attempting to steal.
If the defense can improve, Sabanosh may be able to force his way onto the field a little more often as a senior. The offense is certainly there, and with a young pitching staff, veteran leadership will be as important as ever behind the plate.