COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 6 seed Ohio State baseball team topped No. 4 seed Nebraska, 6-2, in the first game of the day but fell to No. 5 seed Michigan State, 6-2, in an elimination game Friday afternoon at Huntington Park. The second game Friday was the Buckeyes’ third game in 24 hours as Ohio State concluded its season with a 33-27 overall record.
“It was very difficult coming back from the 7:05 p.m. game last night to play the two games starting at 12:05 p.m. today, but I’m really proud of how our guys responded,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We played Purdue last night and Nebraska in the first game today and those are two tough ballgames to come back from. The team battled all day and I am proud of how we competed in this tournament but the bottom line is that our program needs to continue to grow from here.”
Game 1 vs. Nebraska
The Buckeyes took the lead with two in the bottom of the second against Nebraska starter Dexter Spitsnogle. Josh Dezse blooped a double down the right field line with one down, moved to third on a single to center by Patrick Porter and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by David Corna. After Kirby Pellant singled and Greg Solomon was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Tim Wetzel walked to score Porter for the 2-0 Ohio State lead.
Ohio State added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth against reliever Dylan Vogt when Pellant tripled into right-center to lead off the inning and Greg Solomon followed with an RBI single to left to push the lead to 3-0.
Nebraska threatened in the top of the fifth against Ohio State starter Brian King when a pair of errors put runners at the corners with one out but King induced a 6-4-3 double play by Chad Christensen to end the threat and preserve the 3-0 advantage.
The Cornhuskers were able to get on the board with a pair in the top of the sixth. Josh Scheffert walked to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI double to right-center by Richard Stock. Kash Kalkowski then chopped a single up the middle to plate Stock to cut the Ohio State lead to 3-2.
The Buckeyes then responded with a run in the bottom of the seventh when Wetzel singled up the middle to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Cypret and came around to score on a two-base error by Scheffert at third base on a ground ball by Brad Hallberg.
Ohio State added two more against Nebraska reliever Travis Huber in the bottom of the eighth. Corna singled through the left side to lead off the inning and Pellant followed with his second triple of the day to right-center to score Corna. Solomon then capped the scoring at 6-2 with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Pellant.
The Ohio State bullpen took over for King in the seventh as Greg Greve tossed 1.2 scoreless innings and Andrew Armstrong recorded the final out of the eighth before Dezse pitches a scoreless ninth to end it.
Pellant finished the game 3-for-3 with two triples, two runs scored an RBI and a career-high seven total bases. King picked up the win to move to 5-5 on the season, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out four over 6.0 innings pitched.
Game 2 vs. Michigan State
After two scoreless innings, the Buckeyes threatened against Michigan State starter David Garner with runners at the corners and two out in the top of the third after Aaron Gretz singled with one down and Cypret reached on an infield single. However, the Spartans were able to sniff out a first and third play as Cypret got in a rundown between first and second and Gretz was caught off third base to end the inning.
Ohio State starter Trace Dempsey loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the frame but the freshman right-hander induced a 6-4-3 double play by John Martinez to keep the game scoreless.
The Spartans threatened again in the bottom of the fourth, putting the first two on base on a walk and a single but Joel Fisher was unable to get a sacrifice bunt down and struck out and Anthony Checky and Ryan Jones followed with fly outs to end the rally.
Ohio State took the lead in the top of the fifth when Corna reached on an infield single to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pellant and scored on a single through the left side by Gretz. After Wetzel flew out, Cypret reached on an error and Hallberg walked to load the bases with two down before Mike Carroll lined a single into right to score Gretz but Cypret was thrown out from right field by Jimmy Pickens as the Buckeyes took the 2-0 advantage.
The Spartans answered right back to tie it with two in the bottom of the frame. Justin Scanlon was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and a Jordan Keur single but runners on first and second with nobody out. Scanlon then moved to third and, after a foul out by Martinez, Ryan Krill singled to center to make it a one-run game before Brett McKinney came on to relieve Dempsey. Pickens then doubled down the right-field line to score Keur and tie the game at 2-2.
Michigan State then took the lead with three in the bottom of the sixth. An Anthony Cheky walk and a single when Jones hustled on the throw put runners on second and third with nobody out for the Spartans before Keur drove in Cheky with an RBI fielder’s choice. McKinney was then relieved by Armstrong before Torsten Boss plated Jones with a sacrifice fly to left. After a single and a walk loaded the bases, Pickens was hit by a pitch to push the Spartan lead to 5-2.
After Garner recorded the first out of the seventh inning, Michigan State reliever Bryce Jenney came on to induce an inning-ending double play by Cypret before tossing a scoreless eighth.
Michigan State tacked on another run on a Krill single in the bottom of the eighth and Jenney came back out for the ninth, allowed a pair of baserunners but was able to get Cypret to foul out to end it.
Gretz went 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored while Dempsey pitched well in his second career start, allowing two earned runs while striking out a pair over 4.2 innings.
– Josh Dezse reached base safely in 53 of 58 games played this season.
– Kirby Pellant recorded his team-high third triple of the season in the fourth inning against Nebraska.
– Pellant tied his career high with three hits against Nebraska. He also recorded a career-best seven total bases.
– Gretz tallied a career-high three hits against Michigan State.
– Andrew Armstrong finished his career tied for second on the Ohio State all-time list with 92 appearances.
– Kirby Pellant finished the season with 31 stolen bases, good for fifth on the OSU single-season list.
– The Buckeyes won multiple games in the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 2007.