After dropping the first game against the Gophers on Thursday (22-22, 13-11), the Buckeyes (25-25, 13-11) came back to win the final two games of their season-ending must-win series.
Buckeyes Secure Tourney Spot With Series Win at Minnesota
By Tony Gerdeman
The series win was the first ever for Ohio State in Minneapolis and grants the Buckeyes the Big Ten Tournament berth that they missed out on last season.
"I’m so proud of the guys and what they have accomplished together so far this season,” said coach Greg Beals. "The development of this young and inexperienced team has been excellent, and winning on the road in an environment that has not been good for this program in the past is huge."
The series got an early Thursday start with a double-header. Game one was a pitchers' duel between Ohio State's Drew Rucinski and Minnesota's T.J. Oakes., and neither hurler wanted to give way.
Rucinski gave up three hits in his 8.1 innings of pitching, and all three happened in the third and fourth innings where Minnesota scored two runs.
The Buckeyes answered those two runs quickly with a run in the fifth inning that came from a David Corna leadoff double and then a Brian DeLucia fielder's choice.
Ryan Cypret led off the sixth inning with a single, and after advancing to second on a ground out, scored via a Matt Streng single to tie the game at 2-2.
Both offenses were quiet until the bottom of the ninth. Rucinski walked the first man he faced, and was then replaced by Andrew Armstrong. Armstrong then balked the runner to second.
After a Gopher sacrifice bunt, an infield single scored the winning run, making it 3-2 Minnesota.
With their backs against the wall, the Buckeyes came out in game two knowing that the need for a win couldn't be underestimated.
Unfortunately for them, the Gophers got on the board first with a two-out triple, followed by a single to make it 1-0 after one-half of an inning.
That would be all of the runs the Minnesota bats would manage on the day, however. Starting pitcher Brett McKinney went six innings, and gave up just four hits and one earned run for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes finally got their offense going in the fifth inning when David Corna led off with a double. Brad Hallberg singled, and then Tyler Engle tripled to centerfield to bring in both Corna and Hallberg. Engle then scored on a DeLucia ground out, making it 3-1.
The Buckeyes added two more in the seventh when Engle led off with a double, and was eventually brought home on a Josh Dezse single. A Streng single then brought home Cypret to make it 5-1, which would be the final score.
McKinney earned the win for Ohio State, moving his record to 3-3 on the season. Cypret, Dezse, Streng, Hallberg and Engle all had two hits on the night.
The rubber game was set to be played on Friday, but it was rained out and moved to Saturday. The Saturday game was also in jeopardy because of rain, but they finally got the first pitch thrown after a two-hour delay.
Not to be deterred by the weather, the Buckeyes saved their best for last. Freshman pitcher Greg Greve, who started last Sunday's rain-interrupted win over the Hawkeyes, got the call for Ohio State and he didn't disappoint.
Greve pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just six hits while striking out five. Only two runners reached second base against him.
The Buckeyes got their first run of the game in the fourth inning when Dezse reached on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly. Dezse then struck again in the sixth inning by hitting a two-run homerun over the wall in left-center, making it 3-0.
Dezse then came to the mound in the ninth to close it out for Ohio State. He allowed one hit in earning his fifth save of the season.
Greve got the win, moving his record to 3-2. He has not given up a run in his last 13 innings pitched.
Ohio State will meet up with the Gophers again on Wednesday at 12:05 pm in the first round of the Big Ten baseball tournament at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus.
All games will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
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