Buckeyes Lose Heartbreaker to Hawkeyes 9-8
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — What appeared to start out as an Iowa runaway became an Ohio State runaway then turned into a 9-8 Hawkeyes (20-27, 9-11) comeback win over the Buckeyes (22-24, 10-10) in ten innings on Saturday afternoon.
Iowa, trailing 8-4 in the top of the ninth inning and facing Ohio State closer Josh Dezse, scored four runs in the inning to tie the game. Dezse, who came into the game having struck out 12 of his last 14 batters, walked three, gave up three hits and allowed four runs to score.
"We were in a really good situation there with a four-run lead and our closer in the ball game,” said Buckeye coach Greg Beals.
“Josh Dezse has been lights out for about the last three weeks. And tonight was just one of those games. He didn't have his stuff, didn't have command of his pitches and the game got away from us.”
It wasn't the first time the game got away from Ohio State, however.
Buckeye starter Brett McKinney opened the contest by striking out the side in the first inning. Ohio State scored a run in the bottom half of the inning following a throwing error by third baseman Chett Zeise.
The Hawkeyes answered right back in the second when Phil Keppler bunted Tyson Blaser home to tie the game at 1-1.
Both teams went quietly in the third, and it appeared Iowa was going quietly in the fourth as McKinney got the first two Hawkeye batters out. Then a walk, a double, a wild pitch, an error, and another double scored three for Iowa, making it 4-1.
Ohio State cut it to 4-2 in the bottom half of the fourth when Brad Hallberg hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Matt Streng. They made it 4-3 in the fifth when Ryan Cypret singled home Brian DeLucia.
McKinney pitched a perfect sixth inning before finally giving way to reliever Andrew Armstrong. McKinney threw 6.0 innings and gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out nine.
The Buckeyes came to the plate in the seventh inning and scratched out a run to tie the game. Tim Wetzel singled, then ran through a stop sign at third base to score on a Cypret single that was booted by right fielder Taylor Zeutenhorst.
After a Dezse walk, Iowa brought in reliever Tim Fangman, who popped Streng out on the first pitch he threw. Then, with a 1-2 count, catcher Greg Solomon blasted one over the left-field wall for a three-run homerun giving the Buckeyes a 7-4 lead and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
After a quiet eighth inning for Iowa, Ohio State tacked on another run when Cypret grounded out to the shortstop with the bases loaded, scoring Hallberg to make it 8-4.
Dezse came on in the ninth, but never looked comfortable. He gave up a single, then walked three of the next four batters he faced, forcing in a run and making it 8-5. With the bases still loaded, Blaser singled to centerfield to make it 8-6.
Zeise then singled over the shortstop's glove, but because of how close the play was to being made, the runner at second base got a late start. Wetzel threw to third to get the force out, but his throw was wild and went into the Buckeye dugout, which allowed the Hawkeyes to tie the game at 8-8.
Theron Minium then came into the game for Dezse after 0.1 innings pitched. He retired the two batters he faced, and kept the game tied.
“Once you put your closer in the game, it's tough to go get somebody,” Beals said. “We finally did and Theron did a good job getting us out of that inning.”
With a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, the Buckeyes went down in order.
Iowa led off their inning with a Kurt Lee single. He was then bunted over to second. A single by Zach McCool to left field moved Lee to third, where he was being held by the Iowa third base coach, but a fielding error by David Corna allowed McCool to score to make it 9-8.
Ohio State went down in order in the bottom of the tenth to end the game.
"We didn't play very good, quite honestly,” Beals admitted.
“We fought hard as a team to get into position to win the game, but overall we didn't play very good. We didn't execute a few things on offense. Obviously the four errors are not good. We walked seven guys. We didn't play a very clean baseball game. We were still in a great position even with that, and we just couldn't put this one away."
The third game of the series is set for 1:05 pm on Sunday and is approaching must-win status if the Buckeyes want to secure a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, which takes only the top six teams in the conference.
"Tomorrow's a big game,” said Beals.
“We're still absolutely in this tournament race. We're at .500. If we can stick around that .500 mark, I think we've got a really good chance of being in the tournament. Tomorrow's a huge game for the tournament race."
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