The Gophers baseball team enters Big Ten play this weekend with a record of 5-19.

But going into a three-game series at Ohio State, which begins Friday, there are some reasons for the team to be cautiously optimistic.

"We're making progress," said coach John Anderson, who is in his 42nd season as the Gophers coach. "I like our group. This is the youngest position lineup I've put on the field. Our schedule has been a challenge and we've faced good teams. We've played good defense all season and we've been pitching well."

Since starting the season 2-12, the Gophers have won three of their past seven games, including a 3-0 shutout over Creighton last Saturday in Omaha, Neb. That was their first shutout of the season.

Sophomore righthander George Klassen pitched the first six innings of that game for his first career win. He has a scoreless streak of 13 ⅔ innings.

Over the last eight games, the Gophers pitching staff has a 3.58 ERA. For the season, the team ERA is 5.45. The Gophers' ERA last season was 6.56 and it was 8.09 in 2021.

Overall, the Gophers have been competitive. Twelve of their losses have been by three runs or fewer, with seven of the losses by two runs or fewer.

Offensively, the Gophers have been led by Boston Merila, who is hitting .318, and Brett Bateman, hitting .302. Jake Perry leads the team with 15 RBI.

"We haven't had a sustained offense," Anderson said. "That's the challenge for us."

The Gophers are hitting .247 as a team and just .213 with runners in scoring position.

Ohio State opened its conference schedule last weekend with a three-game series at Indiana. The Buckeyes, who had won eight of nine going into the series, were swept by the Hoosiers, 14-6, 9-6 and 7-5.