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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 05/02/2011 1:36 PM
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Baseball
Buckeyes Register Unforgettable Weekend Against Wolverines
By John Porentas

Ohio State director of sports information Jerry Emig just shook his head.

Emig had just noticed that Buckeye catcher Greg Solomon had shown up to the postgame interview wearing the tee-shirt he had worn under his game jersey. It was scarlet, no problem there, but on it in big gray letters were the words "Muck Fishigan".

It's kind of what you would expect after any game pitting Ohio State against Michigan, but what made this a bit unusual is that Solomon has precious little experience with The Rivalry. Until he came to Ohio last fall to become a member of the OSU baseball team he had been a life-long resident of Arizona, a place where the OSU vs. Michigan rivalry isn't exactly the hot commodity that it is in the midwest.

"I'm still learning about it," said Solomon of what some have called the greatest rivalry in sports.

"A year ago I didn't care one way or another about Ohio State or Michigan, but now that I'm here I'm learning about the rivalry and everything about Ohio State and Michigan. It's awesome to be a part of the win."

Winning is what the Buckeyes did this weekend, first soundly defeating the Wolverines by a 7-2 score on Friday, but then absolutely ripping the hearts out of them in the Saturday doubleheader. Both games went to extra innings, and both games went to the Buckeyes. In both games the Wolverines held a lead or were tied late in the game, but in both games the Buckeyes found a way to come back and steal the win, in the process earning a series sweep over the Wolverines for the first time ever in Bill Davis stadium and for the first time in 15 years.

Unlike Solomon who came to Ohio from afar and is just learning about the rivalry, Buckeye senior third baseman Matt Streng grew up in the Columbus area and understands the significance of the accomplishment fully.

"It's unbelievable," said Streng.

"We've never swept Michigan since I've been here. I've grown up in Columbus, lived here my whole life. I know all about the rivalry in all sports. We've actually struggled with them in the past. We took two out of three a couple of years ago, but to sweep them in my senior year at our place is really special."

Sweeping the Michigan series is one thing, but the way they finished off the sweep in the double header was nothing short of spectacular.

In game one of the twin bill the Wolverines put three runs on the board in the top of the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie and take a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

The Buckeyes looked like dead meat, but found a way to come back and tie the game. Three singles and a past ball put a run on the board and two runners on base with one out. First baseman Josh Dezse then delivered an ultra-clutch double to score both runners and tie the game.

It was still anybody's game, but in the 11th inning the Buckeyes found a way to scratch out a run and send the Wolverines to the dugout a devastated team. With two outs and runners at second and third, Streng hit the ball deep into the hole to the shortstop. OSU runner Dan DeLucia crossed the plate, but what remained to be seen was whether the run would count. If Streng was thrown out at first, the run would not count and the game would go into the 12th inning, but it didn't happen that way. Streng hustled down the line and beat the throw on a close play to give OSU the dramatic walk off win.

Michigan's catcher is disgusted as the Buckeyes rush the field to celebrate their win in game one of the doubleheader
Photo by Jim Davidson
1

 

"This team keeps scrapping and clawing," said OSU Head Coach Greg Beals.

"The people that come out and watch us play have to like how our guys go about it and like the effort that they're giving."

Game two was even better.

Michigan had posted a two-run eight inning to erase a two-run OSU lead. For all the world, it looked like the Wolverines had seized the momentum and would salvage one game in the series. The Buckeyes would have none of it.

Greg Solomon scrambles to his feet after sliding into third.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Solomon slides into home with the winning run.
Photo by Jim Davidson

Solomon doubled after one was out. He then attempted to take third on a ground ball off the bat of shortstop Tyler Engel, but the throw to third base was wild. Solomon slid into third, and while the Wolverines were racing to retrieve the errant throw, Solomon leapt to his feet and streaked toward home and slid across the plate with the winning run. The Wolverines just stood and stared in stunned disbelief at the wild celebration taking place on the field as the jubilant Buckeyes went bonkers at home plate.

"When you're facing a guy with that Maize and Blue on, you're zoned in, you're ready to go," said Dezse.

"These last two (wins) in walk off style, that's the best way to win a ball game.

"I was standing on the side of the dugout just bracing everybody, trying to keep them from running on the field, and when he (Solomon) finally scored it was like a moshpit. It was something I'll never forget. I'm surprised we didn't go down dogpile style. People were getting stepped on, people were getting punched, but you don't care because you're just going nuts. It was awesome. It was fun."

It was fitting that Solomon, our "Much Fishigan" man from Arizona, was the runner who scored.

"The adrenaline was going through my body and going through everybody's body," said Solomon of the final play of the series.

"Once they overthrew the ball toward the dugout I knew I was running home.

Brian DeLucia hugs Greg Solomon after Solomon scores the game winning and series sweeping run.
Photo by Jim Davidson

"Once I slid and I knew I was safe I just sat there, looking at Brian DeLucia giving me a big hug, and it was fun just being in the middle of the dog pile."

It was a moment that will be hard to forget for any of the nearly 3,000 who attended the doubleheader. For those who were on the field, it was one of those precious moments that happen rarely in life, but when they do, are almost indescribable.

"It's a tough feeling to describe," said Streng.

"You're just so excited. You run over, you look at your coach, and he comes over, he gives you a big hug, and you see the whole team running at you. To do that twice in day is pretty cool because that doesn't happen twice in a season usually, and to do it against your biggest rival is a great feeling.

It was much the same for Dezse.

"Winning and beating your rival, obviously you want to win every game, but when you can come out here and sweep that team from up north, there's no feeling like it," he said.

Buckeyes erupt in spontaneous celebration after sweeping the Wolverines.
Photo by Jim Davidson
2

OSU's starting pitcher in the game was Greg Greve, a promising freshman who has struggled at times this season, but turned in his best performance of the year by far against the Wolverines, going seven innings, striking out seven, and allowing just one run. You got the feeling it was no accident that his best came forward against Michigan.

"I've been an Ohio State fan my whole life. I'm from the Cleveland area, so I kind of grew up with that hatred for Michigan," said Greve.

"They're a great program with a lot of tradition just like Ohio State. They've got good teams, so that makes it even better to come out here and sweep them. It's a weekend that I'll never forget as a Buckeye."

Gleeful Buckeyes head to the dugout after their series sweep of the Wolverines..
Photo by Jim Davidson
3

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