Buckeyes Lose Heartbreaker 5-4 to Boilers, Relegated to Loser's Bracket
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Ten Player of the Year Kevin Plawecki took the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning down the left field line, sneaking it inside the foul pole for a two-run homerun that gave Purdue a 4-3 lead. A manufactured insurance run one inning later would prove to be the difference in the Boilers' 5-4 win.
Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Joe Haase went eight innings, scattering six hits and giving up three earned runs. He moves to 10-1 on the season. Closer Nick Wittgren picked up his tenth save of the year after a tension-filled ninth inning.
“It was a tough loss for us tonight,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “It was a very well-played, competitive college baseball game. The top-seeded team and the hometown team went head-to-head in a one-run ballgame. We weren’t able to come out on top but I really like where our guys are at as a team and how we played the game.”
The Buckeyes got off to a fast start when Tim Wetzel and Ryan Cypret led off the game with consecutive singles. After a pop out to the catcher by Brad Hallberg, Mike Carroll bunted Wetzel home to get Ohio State on the scoreboard and the Buckeyes left the top of the inning with a 1-0 lead.
Purdue answered the Buckeyes in the bottom half of the inning. After a ground out by leadoff batter Tyler Spillner, starting pitcher John Kuchno hit Eric Charles. Charles advanced to third on a Cameron Perkins single to shortstop. Kevin Plawecki, who went 2-3 on the night with three RBIs, then hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Charles and tying the score.
The Purdue bats stayed hot in the second with a double and single followed by a botched double play attempt by shortstop Kirby Pellant that scored David Miller. Pellant redeemed himself when Charles bounced a double-play ball to the shortstop and the Buckeyes were able to convert, getting out of the inning having given up just one run.
After the Boilers left the bases loaded in the fifth inning, the Buckeyes came back in the sixth to score a run when Carroll hit his first career triple, scoring Hallberg to tie the game. Josh Dezse then doubled Carroll home to give the Buckeyes the 3-2 lead.
It was a short-lived lead, however, as the Boilermakers put two on the board in the bottom of the seventh when Plawecki sent a homerun down the left field line to give Purdue the 4-3 lead.
The homer chased Kuchno from the game, having pitched six innings, giving up ten hits and four runs, three earned.
“John Kuchno is a great competitor, and he got after it today,” Beals said of his sophomore hurler, who fell to 8-4 on the season. “Sure, he’d like to have some pitches back here and there, but I thought the ball Plawecki hit was a quality pitch.”
Purdue added another in the eighth when Talbott scored from third on a fielder's choice to make it 5-3 heading to the ninth.
Boiler closer Nick Wittgren came on to finish the Buckeyes, but walked Carroll to start the inning. Wittgren stuck Dezse out looking, bringing Patrick Porter to the plate. Carroll advanced to second thanks to a wild pitch and Porter walked. David Corna flew out to right field, but then Pellant bounced one through the hole into left field, bringing home Carroll to make it 5-4. Wittgren was able to strike out catcher Aaron Gretz, however, ending the game and giving the Boilers the 5-4 win.
Give those guys credit,” Beals said. “Joe Haase competed the way that he does, makes those pitches very well, kept us off balance in the middle of the game very well. And then the player of the year, their catcher, got a big hit and it ended up being the difference in the ballgame.”
The Buckeyes have to be back at Huntington Park early Friday for a 12:05 pm elimination game against Nebraska. The winner will face Michigan State at 3:35 pm.
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