Buckeye Bats, Bullpen Best Spartans 9-8
By Tony Gerdeman
With the wind whipping throughout, the
Buckeyes (14-15, 4-4) managed to overcome a four-run deficit and then
a three-run deficit in their 9-8 come from behind win over the
first-place Spartans (22-9, 6-2) on Saturday afternoon.
Buckeye leadoff hitter Brian DeLucia
went 2-3 on the day, collecting three RBIs in the process. Center
fielder Tim Wetzel went 2-5, including the game-winning RBI single in
the eighth inning.
Ohio State had their work cut out for
them from the outset when Buckeye starter Brett McKinney gave up a
grand slam to the fourth batter he faced. That homerun by
Torsten Boss was then followed by a double from Jared Hook, but
McKinney got the next three batters before any further damage was
One of Buckeye head coach Greg Beals'
main talking points to his team is overcoming adversity and they
went right to work in the bottom half of the first inning. With two
outs, Ryan Cypret singled and then came home on a Josh Dezse double
to make it 4-1 Spartans.
After a quiet top half of the second,
the Buckeyes really started overcoming adversity when Brad Hallberg
and David Corna led off the inning with base hits. Both
scored on a Matt Streng double.
Shortstop Tyler Engle bunted
Streng over to third and DeLucia's sacrifice fly brought Streng home,
tying the game at 4-4.
“It's definitely a shocker,” said
Wetzel of falling down 4-0 after just one inning.
“You never want that to happen. But
we've been really good about picking eachother up lately. And we
just kind of rallied around it and just knew that we had to get some
back. And in the bottom of the second we came right back and tied it
The third inning was quiet. Both
teams went three up and three down, but things got crazy again in the
With two outs in the inning, Michigan
State managed a single and a double that brought in a run. Then
following a walk, Boss hit a fly ball to Corna who committed a
wind-aided error allowing two more runs to score, making
it 7-4 Spartans.
“The wind was blowing hard,”
“It was blowing out, and sometimes it
was blowing the ball down faster because the wind was actually
driving the ball down. I think Corna saw it, he thought it was going
to be up in the air, calls it, comes after it, and the wind just
drove it down faster. It's a play we gotta make, obviously the wind
is a factor in it, but the wind was blowing that way all day and it
was blowing that way for both teams. We gave them two runs there,
and fortunately our offense and our bullpen guys were able to
They wasted no time in doing so.
In the ensuing half-inning, with Hallberg on third following a walk
and a single, and Streng on first following a fielder's choice, Engle
hit a double to centerfield, scoring Hallberg and moving Streng to
third. DeLucia then singled home both Streng and Engle to tie the
ballgame at 7-7.
The Buckeyes weren't done. DeLucia
moved to second on a Wetzel ground out and scored on a Cypret
single. That happened to be the final straw for Spartan starter Tony
Bucciferro, who came into this game with an 0.53 ERA in his two Big
Ten games and 2.05 ERA and 6-1 record overall. His final line for
the game was 3.2 innings pitched, ten hits and eight earned runs.
“Our hitters were good all day
today,” Beals said.
“I really liked our approach
offensively. We got a lot of hits against a guy whose numbers have
been very, very good. We chased him out of the ballgame early. We
rallied off a bunch of hits and were able to get back in that
ballgame. We got punched in the mouth in that first inning with
those four runs right out of the gate, but our guys handled that
adversity and kept fighting back.”
McKinney went one more inning. His day was done after five innings pitched. The Buckeyes then went
to their matchup bullpen, with Theron Minium coming into the game in
the sixth inning. He immediately gave up two singles before forcing
a double-play ground out that scored the tying run for the Spartans.
Minium walked two more in the seventh
inning before giving way to David Fathalikhani who proceeded to
throw a wild pitch and walk Justin Scanlon to load the bases. Jeff
Kinley then hit a slow grounder to Cypret who tossed it over to Engle
at second. Engle threw to first to get the double play, but
his throw was late. Scanlon, however, was called for a very
controversial interference trying to break up the play which gave the Buckeyes the double play
they were looking for, ending the inning.
The Spartans went 1-2-3 in the eighth. Andrew Armstrong came in for Fathalikhani for the final out of
With the game still tied at 8-8, Tyler
Engle led the eighth inning off with a single. Engle advanced to
second on a DeLucia sacrifice bunt. On the first pitch that he
saw, Wetzel singled to right field, bringing Engel home for the
eventual winning run.
“It was a change up, which I actually
surprised myself that I hit that well because usually I'm a little
out in front of those,” Wetzel said of the pitch he hit.
Armstrong came out for the ninth
inning and struck out Boss before hitting pinch hitter Andy Johnson.
Jared Strayer came in for Armstrong and induced a foul out to
Joel Fisher. Grant Newsome, who came in as a pinch runner for the
pinch hitter Johnson, was then gunned down by catcher Greg Solomon on an attempted steal to end the game.
Armstrong collected the win in his 0.2
innings pitched. Strayer earned his second save of the season. With
the wind howling out for most of the game, the bullpen pitched four
innings of two-hit ball and only gave up one earned run.
“It's good to see our team bounce
back,” said Beals.
“Before the game we got together and
talked about the fact that we've played good games and been in good
games, we just haven't found a way to win and get some of the
situational hits. What this team needs to do is just learn how to
win. We're playing good enough and we have ourselves in all of the
games, just find a way to win the baseball game.
The Buckeyes next play on Sunday at
1:05 pm in the rubber match of this series.
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