Buckeyes Exact Revenge With 3-2 Over #16 Oklahoma State
By Tony Gerdeman
The Buckeyes (22-22) got five solid innings from starting pitcher John Kuchno and four innings of three-hit ball from their bullpen in a 3-2 rebound win over #16 Oklahoma State (32-16) on Wednesday evening.
The Ohio State offense only managed five base hits on the day. More importantly, however, the Cowboys only managed seven base hits of their own after launching 20 the night before.
Oklahoma State started the game just like they did Tuesday evening, scoring early in the first inning. Dane Phillips singled and was then doubled home by Zach Johnson, who entered the game with a .349 average and eight homeruns.
The next five innings, however, turned into a pitcher's duel.
Cowboys starting pitcher Jason Hursh pitched six strong innings, giving up just two hits. Of the 20 batters he faced, he forced 13 ground outs.
But Kuchno matched Hursh nearly pitch for pitch. Even when Oklahoma State managed to threaten—as they did when Luis Uribe led off the fifth inning with a double, he was able to pitch himself out of the inning.
Buckeye head coach Greg Beals wanted Kuchno to give them five good innings, and that's exactly what he did.
“The story line was the pitching staff pitching on the bottom of the strike zone,” said the Ohio State skipper.
“Tonight we were on the bottom of the zone and we held them at bay. John Kuchno's start was exactly what we were looking for. That's the potential that we saw in John. Hopefully he can build on that. He could have a bright future ahead of him if he keeps pitching like that.”
Greg Greve came into the game for the Buckeyes in the sixth inning and gave up back-to-back doubles to Johnson and Jared Womack, making it 2-0 Cowboys. He was able to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage however.
After a perfect seventh inning of relief from Jared Strayer Ohio State finally answered in the bottom half of the inning. Tim Wetzel led off with a single which finally chased Hursh out of the game. Ryan Cypret then singled as well, and both players moved up a base when Uribe fumbled with the ball in the outfield.
Consecutive ground outs by Josh Dezse and Matt Streng would score both Wetzel and Cypret, tying the game at 2-2 after seven.
“Scrappy, no doubt,” Beals said of his offense.
“We get hits, and then we moved the ball with some ground balls to score some runs. Our hitters are learning how to do what they need to do in order to be productive.”
The scrappiness would continue in the eighth inning. After Strayer and Andrew Armstrong combined for a perfect inning in relief, Brad Hallberg led off the bottom of the inning with a walk. He was then pinch run for by Joe Ciamacco.
A sacrifice bunt from Tyler Engle moved Ciamacco to second. Brian DeLucia then walked, and Wetzel followed with a single to load the bases.
A Cypret sacrifice fly to centerfield brought Ciamacco home to take the 3-2 lead.
Dezse took the mound to close the game out in the ninth. He faced four batters and struck out three of them to finish the game and notch his third save of the season. He topped out at 100 mph on the radar gun.
“It's nice having a closer,” said Beals.
“Championship teams have closers. We have a closer. It shortens the game for the manager and the pitching staff. You've seen Josh from the start of the season until now, how he has matured on the mound. The ability's always there, but now the confidence and the comfort is there. He's taking the game to people right now.”
“That is the first time I've done that,” Dezse said of reaching 100 mph.
“I knew I was throwing hard, and I felt really well. I came off and one of our managers yelled at me and gave up the triple-digit sign, so I was pretty pumped.”
Dezse would have never had the opportunity if it wasn't for those first five innings from Kuchno.
“It was just a heck of an opportunity against a great team and I wanted to take full advantage of it,” said the Buckeyes' starter.
“Just that fearless kind of attitude. Got nothing to lose, and I knew I could keep us in it.”
“It was awesome to come back into the locker room and just relish in the fact that Josh hit a 100. And it was just great to shake everyone's hands and be a part of something. I'm usually watching, and to actually be a part of it, it just feels really good.”
The win was definitely a welcome sight for a team that had been completely pummeled just one night before.
“Give our guys a lot of credit for bouncing back,” said Beals. “They showed a lot of gumption and competitiveness after last night's game to come back and play as good as we played tonight.
“After last night, another bad game tonight would have been detrimental moving into the weekend. It was big for our team to play a really good, clean game of baseball. Win or lose, we played really clean. The win is icing on the cake, and something that's going to bump us into the weekend and into conference play.”
Armstrong picked up the win with his two-thirds of an inning pitched. He moves to 2-0 on the season.
Up next for the Buckeyes is their final conference home stand of the season as Iowa (18-27, 7-11) comes to town. Ohio State is currently tied for third place in the Big Ten with a 10-8 conference record.
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