In the case of Ohio State third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic, it was fitting that winter refused to go away in March and April because his bat was in something of an ice age.
The team lost junior first baseman Josh Dezse for the season to a back injury, and a lot was riding on Bosiokovic, a freshman, to immediately add pop to the lineup.
Bosiokovic, though, managed three hits in his first 24 at-bats. He drove in two runs.
“It sure was bad,’’ said Bosiokovic, who graduated from Delaware. “I was so nervous, but that was natural. Then I took a step back and said it’s the same game I’ve played all my life. The distance between the bases was the same. The distance between home plate and the mound was the same. I just took a deep breath and kept playing.’’
The third trip of the spring was when Bosiokovic started to break through. He went 1 for 3 against Connecticut and Central Michigan, 4 for 6 with six RBI against Harvard and 2 for 3 with three RBI against Ball State in earning Big Ten player of the week honors.
There have been ups and downs, but Bosiokovic has been riveted in the No. 5 spot in the order for a team that has won 10 of its past 12 games and is 33-15 overall.
Bosiokovic, who is 6 feet 6 and 195 pounds, tied for the team lead in home runs (four), ranks second in RBI (31) and third in batting average (.287) going into a three-game series against 10th-ranked Oregon (37-11) at 6:35 tonight in Bill Davis Stadium. He has played in all but two games.
“I expected him to come in here and play every day,’’ coach Greg Beals said. “I had no expectations about numbers, but they are solid. And he’s in the middle of our lineup. We’re not hiding him.’’
The difference for Bosiokovic, Beals said, is that he is learning how to handle breaking pitches.
“The quality of breaking balls in college is a big difference,’’ Beals said. “His strikeout numbers are a little high, and that’s not unusual for a freshman. He’s getting his fair share of breaking balls, and that’s part of a player’s evolution.’’
Bosiokovic has struck out 45 times in 164 at-bats, but is coming through in conference play. He was 5 for 11 against Northwestern, 4 for 13 against Illinois and 4 for 12 against Nebraska. The Buckeyes won each series.
“I just had to relax,’’ he said. “It’s starting to happen for me. All the guys on the team said they started like this. The game is so much faster.’’
Breaking balls arrive at the plate slower than other pitches, and he has learned to be patient.
“That’s all I saw at first was breaking balls,’’ he said. “I’d swing at a bad pitch and they’d throw it again. They will attack you.’’
Senior left fielder Joey Ciamacco of Hilliard Davidson said veterans have tried to help Bosiokovic.
“We’re there for him,’’ he said. “Jacob is a gifted player. He has all the tools. I never saw him press. At least he didn’t show it. Pitching at this level is so much tougher.’’