Buckeyes Manufacture Win Over Gophers 5-3
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State (17-12, 4-4) used patient bats, timely hitting, and a most unfortunate Minnesota error to scrape out five hits and seven walks, in order to secure a 5-3 win over the Gophers (17-15, 3-2). In doing so, theBuckeyes have assured themselves a series win and will play to sweep the three-game series on Sunday.
After Minnesota had taken the lead 3-2 in the third inning, an error by Gopher centerfielder Troy Larson would lead to two unearned runs by the Buckeyes, which just happened to end up being the difference in the game.
"We played a clean game of baseball," said coach Greg Beals.
"No walks, no errors. We threw a lot of strikes, and we made all of the plays on defense. We made a throw out at the plate. We had a diving play at second base. We had a double play in the eighth inning. We made some high quality plays and we didn't make any errors on defense."
The Buckeyes' brand of clean baseball lead to two runs in the first inning. DH Brad Hutton led off with a walk, then advanced to third on a ground-rule double from Greg Solomon. After a Kirby Pellant ground out and a Tim Wetzel walk, Ryan Cypret bounced into a fielder's choice, which scored Hutton.
With men on first and third and two outs, the Buckeyes then executed a double steal which saw Cypret stay alive in a run down long enough to let Solomon steal home and give Ohio State the 2-0 lead.
The Gophers answered back with three runs in the fourth inning after Buckeye starter Brian King gave up three hits, a balk, a stolen base, and also hit two batters before finally calming down and holding Minnesota to just three runs in the inning.
"I didn't really execute my pitches to the best of my ability," King said.
"It just kind of snowballed. I got a few hits here and there, and hit a few people. Basically, I didn't execute when I should have. [After the inning] they just said that it was a new inning the next inning, so just go out there, and we're gonna put some runs up for you, which they did. So it worked out."
"He fought his way through that," Beals said of his Saturday starter, "and it was great to see him go scoreless for three innings after that."
The Buckeyes came to bat in the fourth inning and loaded the bases thanks in large part to Larson's outfield error. Hutton then came to the plate and walked on a 3-2 pitch, scoring the tying run.
Greg Solomon then followed up with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Corna and giving the Buckeyes the 4-3 lead.
After the Buckeyes regained the lead, King calmed down and only gave up three hits over his final three innings, but not before Ohio State scored an insurance run when Dezse came home on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.
"We didn't lights out just hammer the ball and have homeruns or anything like that, but we had really good at bats," Dezse said.
"We had key walks in key situations. We had a double steal that was very well executed that led to a run. The baserunning was key today, especially with just how we got on base today."
King then turned it over to the Buckeye bullpen. David Fathalikhani came into the game in the eighth inning, and immediately induced a ground out from catcher Kurt Schlangen.
After a Dan Olinger single, he got Matt Puhl to ground into a double play to end the inning. Dezse then came into close out the Gophers in the ninth.
After a strikeout and then a ground out to start the inning, Minnesota first baseman Ryan Abrahamson singled up the middle to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of right fielder Bobby Juan.
Juan then hit a 2-2 pitch to Pellant at shortstop. Pellant outraced Abrahamson to second base for the final out of the ball game.
King pitched 7.0 innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. The win moves him to 3-3 on the season.
"I felt really good going in," King said. "The arm felt good. My fastball and my changeup were the two pitches that I had the most confidence in. My curveball was good, but I just couldn't get it in the strike zone."
For his part, Dezse picked up his second save of the season, and he gave credit to a tweak of his mechanics, as well as his mindset.
"I was just dipping a little bit with the back shoulder, but now I feel smooth," he explained.
"I'm not going out there thinking that I'm going to gas every hitter. You can't strike them out on the first pitch. I'm just trying to get on top of hitters with that first strike. Then when I get a little bit deeper in the count, that's where I can amp it out. That's been working so far."
"Working so far" explains the Buckeyes fairly well in this series, which Ohio State has now won. The Buckeyes will now turn their attention towards a sweep of the Gophers. The third game of the series will take place Sunday at 12:05 pm at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.
- The Buckeyes are now 13-0 when leading after seven innings.
- Dezse has reached base safely in 28 of 29 contests this season.
- Porter singled to extend his hitting streak to four games.
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