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Last updated: 03/29/2011 11:40 PM

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Baseball
Timely Hitting and Lively Pitching Lead Buckeyes over Musketeers in Home Opener
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — After 17 games away from Bill Davis Stadium, the Buckeyes (8-10) finally made their way back to the old homestead, and did it with a 4-1 win over Xavier (16-10) in their home opener.

Brett McKinney pitched five solid innings, giving up two hits and one earned run, all of which came in his fifth and final inning. The Buckeye bullpen pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits in the process.

“What you saw is really what I believe in from a pitching staff,” said head coach Greg Beals.

“You saw us mix and match a lot. You saw us go with combinations with the matchups—the righties with the righties, the lefties versus the lefties. We've got some guys in our bullpen that are capable of pitching that way. And that's how we're going to use our pitching staff a lot.”

The Buckeyes scored three runs in the third inning, each run coming with two outs. Left-fielder David Corna started the inning out innocently enough by getting hit by a pitch, but that was quickly followed by a Tyler Engle single. After a Brian DeLucia strikeout, freshman Tim Wetzel singled to centerfield to load the bases.

Following a Ryan Cypret strikeout, freshman DH Josh Dezse came to the plate looking to make something happen. He took a 1-2 pitch and dropped it into right field, scoring two runs in the process.

“It was a slider, down and away,” he said.

“I didn't want to strike out and I didn't want to let my team down. I just tried to put the ball in play, and a good thing happened.”

Wetzel would then score on a wild pitch to cap the inning's scoring.

After four hitless innings, McKinney came out for the fifth inning and immediately gave up his first hit of the game. He then followed that up with a walk. He struck the next two batters out, but threw a wild pitch and then gave up an RBI single, putting Xavier on the scoreboard for the first time all night.

He forced a flyout for the third out and was met at the dugout by his teammates, who were appreciative of such an outing from the sophomore.

“To me the story is Brett McKinney setting the tempo on the mound,” said Beals.

“He really gave our team a comfort knowing that we've got a guy on the mound that's dealing, and there's not a lot of pressure on us offensively, let's let things happen. McKinney really set the tempo for us.”

“I felt really good,” McKinney said of his pregame bullpen work.

“It's probably the best bullpen I've thrown before a game in a while. I had three pitches going early, so I felt pretty comfortable going out to start the game.”

While it was his start that set the tone, it was the way he ended his outing that solidified it.

“I didn't want a big inning," he said.

"They scored the first run, and I didn't want to give up a run, but once they scored the first one, I had to put a stop to it. I didn't want to give up a big inning and get their momentum back. I felt like we had all of the momentum on our side, so I was just trying to keep it that way.”

Theron Minium came on in relief of McKinney and pitched a perfect sixth inning, striking out two. He gave up a single to his first batter in the seventh and was replaced by David Fathalikhani, who enticed a double play on the first pitch he threw.

“It makes a coach look smart when you go get a guy and he rolls a double play ball right away,” quipped Beals.

The Buckeyes added an insurance run in the bottom half of the seventh after catcher Greg Solomon tripled and then scored on a wild pitch. Jared Strayer closed out the ninth to earn his first save. McKinney got the win, moving his record to 1-1 on the season.

“It's great,” Beals said of being back home.

“It's nice to be at home in the friendly confines of your own ballpark and with your own people. Having the students out, that's awesome. That type of support is what Buckeye Nation is known for, and that really means something to our players.”

Box Score


Game Notes


- Ohio State is 12-3 all-time in home openers at Bill Davis Stadium.

- The Buckeyes have won their last seven home openers dating back to 2005.

- McKinney threw first pitch strikes to 13 of his first 14 batters faced. The sophomore did not allow a hit until his 14th batter of the game led off the fifth inning.

- The Buckeyes held Xavier's top four hitters (and top four in the lineup) to just one hit in 12 at-bats with three strikeouts.

- The three Buckeyes making their first appearances in Bill Davis Stadium (Tim Wetzel, Josh Dezse and Greg Solomon) combined for four of the Buckeyes' seven hits, two RBI and two runs scored.

- The Buckeyes threw just 110 pitches in the game...a solid effort out of the pitching staff.

- The Ohio State bullpen tossed 4.0 scoreless innings, striking out four and giving up three hits.

- Only three Xavier batters had a hit in the game: Bruening had three hits and Phil Bauer and Elwell each had a hit apiece.

- Ohio State moves to 29-8 all-time against the Musketeers.

- Big Ten Conference play opens this weekend at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State hosts Northwestern at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 3:05 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday. The game Sunday will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. The Friday and Saturday games will be streamed to the internet at BigTenNetwork.com. A small fee will be charged.

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