Buckeyes on Opposite Ends on Pair of 6-2 Outcomes as Season Comes to an End
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes entered the Big Ten Tournament on Friday as occupants of the losers' bracket, meaning that it was win or go home for the rest of the year.
Led by a strong outing from starting pitcher Brian King, who went six innings and gave up just two runs, Ohio State defeated Nebraska 6-2 to open the day. The victory over the Huskers meant that Michigan State was up next, and despite a strong start early, the Buckeyes simply didn't have enough late and lost to the Spartans by the same 6-2 score.
"Not to make any excuses, but I felt like we ran out of gas," Buckeye head coach Greg Beals said. "We just didn't have any juice left in the game."
Ohio State had juice earlier against Nebraska, however, and got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning. Josh Dezse doubled down the left field line and Patrick Porter followed that up with a single, which pushed Dezse to third. A sacrifice fly by David Corna scored Dezse. The Buckeyes then quickly loaded the bases and Tim Wetzel walked in a run to make it 2-0.
Dylan Vogt came on in relief of Husker starter Dexter Spitsnogle, who went only 1.2 innings, giving up three hits, two walks and two earned runs. Vogt closed the door on the inning, not allowing anybody else to come around to score.
Buckeye starter Brian King cruised along, though he did get into a bit of trouble in the fourth inning as the Huskers mounted a two-out rally with a double and a single, but Kale Kiser popped out to end the inning.
Kirby Pellant responded for Ohio State in the bottom half of the inning, leading off with a triple, and then scoring on a Greg Solomon single to left field, making it 3-0.
Nebraska finally got to King in the sixth inning when a double and a single brought in a pair of runs with nobody out. However, King got out of trouble with a 3-2 Buckeye lead still intact. He finally left after six innings, having given up just six hits and two earned runs while walking three and striking out four.
Ohio State added another run in the seventh, and more in the eighth when Corna singled and was then brought home by a Pellant triple. A Greg Solomon sacrifice fly scored Pellant, who went 3-3 on the day, making it 6-2. Josh Dezse came on to pitch the ninth and held the Huskers scoreless, striking out two in the process. The 6-2 win kept the Buckeyes from being eliminated and set up a game against Michigan State.
Trace Dempsey got the start on the mound for the Buckeyes against the Spartans, and began the game masterfully. In fact, the game's first runs didn't cross the plate until Ohio State got a pair in the fifth inning. Catcher Aaron Gretz, who went 3-3 on the day with an RBI, singled through the left side, scoring Corna. Gretz then scored later in the inning on an RBI single from Mike Carroll.
The Spartans came right back in the bottom half of the fifth when Dempsey hit Justin Scanlon to lead off the inning, and then Jordan Keur singled to put men on first and second. A single from Ryan Krill scored Scanlon, which chased Dempsey from the game and brought in Wednesday's hero Brett McKinney.
"Trace Dempsey did a good job," said Beals, "but he got up to around 80 pitches, and that's a lot for a guy who's been pitching in the bullpen most of the year. He gave us a great effort."
Pickens was the first batter to face McKinney and he immediately smashed an RBI double down the right field line to tie the game at 2-2.
An inning later, the Spartans put three more runs on the scoreboard despite recording just two hits. Andrew Armstrong replaced McKinney, who pitched just 0.2 innings and gave up three earned runs.
"Give Michigan State credit, they hung in there," Beals said. "They kept scratching and clawing and they finally busted out and got a few runs to get ahead of us."
Michigan State added an insurance run in the eighth inning, but it was apparent that no more runs were needed.
With the 6-2 Spartan win, Michigan State advances in the Big Ten Tournament and sends Ohio State home until 2013.
"We've got to continue to get better," Beals said, looking towards next season. "We're nowhere near where we want to be."
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