Greg Beals' first season as Ohio State's head coach came to an end on Friday as the Buckeyes (26-27) lost 9-4 to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-23).
Buckeyes' Season Ends in 9-4 Loss To Gophers in Big Ten Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman
Minnesota had four players contribute two RBIs in the win, all of them infielders. They combined to go 7-16 with two homeruns and eight RBIs.
With OSU having taken three in a row from the Gophers, including a 5-3 win in the first round of the tournament, Minnesota came out mentally charged for the game with Ohio State. The real question was how ready the Buckeyes would be.
After finishing up around 11:30 pm the night before, the Buckeyes had to pull a quick turnaround to meet the 12:05 pm start time, and it wasn't easy.
“I wasn't concerned about them being mentally-prepared to compete," said Beals. "I was just concerned with how alive their bodies were going to be."
“It was rough," admitted catcher Greg Solomon, who caught all three games the Buckeyes played in the tournament, and also took a wicked blow in a collision at the plate Thursday night.
"We had six hours of sleep, or so. It's just a grind. Coach talks about the grind every day, and dealing with adversity, and that's what we needed to do today.”
Greg Greve got the start on the mound for Ohio State, and entered the game with 13 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
He made it through the first two innings with his streak intact, but in the third inning he finally proved to be human. With two outs and men on second and third, he threw a wild pitch and allowed Matt Puhl to score, snapping his scoreless streak at 15.2 innings pitched.
But that run was all the Gophers could manage for the immediate future. The Buckeyes finally got their own ball rolling in the bottom of the fifth, and it all came with two outs.
Solomon got things going with a single to centerfield, and Tyler Engle followed that up with a single of his own. Brian DeLucia doubled down the left-field line, scoring Solomon.
Tim Wetzel came to the plate and singled home both Engle and DeLucia, making it 3-1 Buckeyes.
The Ohio State offensive outburst apparently woke the Gophers out of their daze, because when they finally came to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, they took no prisoners.
A single and a walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt, left two men in scoring position for Nick O'Shea, who singled both runners home to tie the game at 3-3.
Kyle Geason then came to the plate and hit a two-run homerun over the left-field wall to make it 5-3. Troy Larson was next up for the Gophers, and promptly tripled to left center to end Greve's day.
“They figured him out," Beals said of his pitcher.
"The ball got up in the zone a little bit. They got some big hits. That's an offense that we've held at bay for four games, and that sixth inning I think was four games of offense they threw at us all in one inning.”
Theron Minium came in for Greve. The first batter he faced, Matt Puhl, took an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for the second two-run homerun of the inning, making it 7-3.
Ohio State added a run in the sixth, and the Gophers got two more in the eighth for good measure.
“It's really not about numbers today," Beals said after the game.
"Obviously the day didn't go the way we wanted it to go. We hoped to stay in the tournament longer than we did, but it didn't work out that way for us. But on days like today, you look back at the body of work that we had this year. I told the guys that I was proud of how far we came as a team in my first year. Just what we were able to get accomplished on the field as a team, and as student-athletes.”
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