Strong Outing For Long Leads Bucks to 2-1 Win
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Buckeye centerfielder Tim Wetzel dropped down a safety squeeze to the right side of the infield, scoring catcher Greg Solomon from third to give Ohio State the go-ahead run and the 2-1 lead that would eventually be the game's final score.
"That's why we compete as athletes," said Wetzel of his bunt. "That's why we're at this level. You want those situations. I was thankful he (coach Greg Beals) put the bunt sign down because I really wanted to do it."
The Ohio State win gives Minnesota their first conference loss this year, and moves the Buckeyes to 16-12 on the season and 3-4 in conference play. The Gophers drop to 17-14 and 3-1 in the Big Ten.
Runs were going to be hard to come by for the Buckeyes with a stiff wind blowing in and Gophers ace T.J. Oakes on the mound. However, Ohio State starter Jaron Long proved more than capable of holding his own against one of the Big Ten's best.
In fact, the pitchers completely controlled the first three innings with very little trouble. In the fourth, however, the Buckeyes finally broke through.
After Brad Hallberg walked, Josh Dezse came in and drilled a shot to left center that fell short of the wall for a double, scoring Hallberg all the way from first.
Long kept the Buckeyes churning along, however, and Minnesota didn't draw blood until the eighth inning when they manufactured a run via a Matt Puhl walk and a two-out single by Andy Henkemeyer.
The Buckeyes answered in the bottom half of the inning with Wetzel's squeeze, then called on closer Josh Dezse to shut the door on the Gophers to secure the Ohio State victory.
"How about Dezse," Beals said. "He hits the double to score the first run, and then comes in and closes the ballgame. That's what we want the big fella to do."
It was Dezse's first save of the year. Long went eight innings for the win, moving him to 2-1 on the season with a 2.20 ERA. As the team's new Friday night starter, he is relishing his role.
"When you win on Friday, it's awesome because it takes a lot of pressure off your team and you kind of get the momentum going your way, and I feel like we did that tonight."
"His last two outings have been dominating," Beals said.
"Jaron's got weapons. It's been his changeup, but tonight it was the cutter/slider that he uses. He pitched extremely well. He just knows what he's doing, and he gets a feel for the opponent. He's a guy that out-executes. He doesn't overpower anybody, he beats you with execution."
"I love catching him," Solomon said of Long. "He's a good pitcher. He hits his spots. His changeup and his cutter are always on. He's experienced, coming out of junior college, in facing a different kind of athlete. It's fun to catch him."
Beals was expecting a pitcher's duel, advising those who would listen before the game that it might be a 90-minute game tonight. Instead, it clocked in at 1:45.
Game two of the series is set for 3:05 pm on Saturday at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.
- Jaron Long set a career high with eight strikeouts.
- The game was completed in a brisk one hour and 45 minutes, marking the shortest contest of the season.
- Jaron Long and Josh Dezse combined to hold the Gophers to three hits, a season low for Ohio State pitching.
- The Buckeyes are now 12-0 when leading after seven innings and 11-0 when outhitting the opponent.
- Josh Dezse has reached base safely in 27 of 28 contests this season.
- The bottom six hitters in the Minnesota lineup were a combined 0-for-17 against Buckeye pitching.
- Patrick Porter singled to extend his hitting streak to three games.
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