Superb Pitching for Buckeyes Leads to Doubleheader Sweep Over Northwestern
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Needing every win they can get to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes took the first two games of a weekend series from Northwestern on Saturday thanks to a pitching staff that allowed just 13 hits and two earned runs in a doubleheader performance.
Ace Jaron Long went eight innings in the first game, giving up eight hits and just one earned run. Brian King followed that in game two by throwing a complete game and taking a perfect game into the eighth inning.
"This is exactly what we needed," coach Greg Beals said. "We need to continue to take care of business and two wins today puts us right back in the thick of things.
"I was really impressed with the way Jaron Long competed and got us through eight innings and Brian King had all three pitches working tonight. I knew he was going to be tough from the start and it was great to see him take the perfect game into the eighth."
Northwestern got the scoring started in the second inning. Colby Everett led off the inning with a base hit and was then sacrificed over to second base. A groundout to third moved Everett to third base, and then a single brought him home to score.
Pitcher Jaron Long
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes finally responded in the fourth inning. Josh Dezse was hit by Northwestern starter Francis Brooke to lead off the inning and an infield single by Mike Carroll put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Brad Hallberg then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error by Brooke allowed Dezse to score the Buckeyes’ first run of the game. After a lineout by Patrick Porter, David Corna grounded out to third and Carroll came around to score the go-ahead run as Hallberg was caught in a rundown between second and third.
Scoring for both teams was scarce following the fourth inning. Despite not having his best stuff, Buckeye starter Jaron Long found a way to keep the Wildcats off of the scoreboard all the way through the eighth inning.
"I didn't really have a good feel out there early," said Long, who moves to 5-2 on the season with the win. "My two-seamer was really moving a lot, to the point where I wasn't really commanding it very well and I was missing. My cutter was just not very good at all. It was just one of those days where I didn't have very good stuff and I had to go out there and find ways to get guys out."
Ohio State added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Tim Wetzel scored on a Carroll single to make it 3-1. Josh Dezse came on in the top of the ninth and closed things out for the Buckeyes, securing his fifth save of the year.
Ohio State didn't waste much time in the second game, plating a pair of runs in the second inning when David Corna hit an RBI double, and then scored on an error one batter later.
Pitcher Brian King
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes then did one run better in the third inning. Ryan Cypret led off by getting hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a ground out, and then tagged up and moved to third on a fly out. Cypret then scored on a Hallberg infield single.
Following a Patrick Porter single, David Corna brought both Porter and Hallberg home with his second double of the evening, making it 5-0 Buckeyes.
Ohio State added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings, but the Buckeyes had more than they needed with starter Brian King on the mound.
King, who didn't allow a runner in the first seven innings, was having quite the opposite outing of game one starter Jaron Long, despite similar results.
"I had all three pitches today and I could put them where I wanted," King said. "I could keep them off balance, which really helped to keep them from hitting the ball hard."
Northwestern's Colby Everett finally broke up the perfect game with a single to centerfield to lead off the eighth inning. Everett would eventually come around to score after two more base hits, making it 7-1.
King came out for the ninth inning, and after giving up a lead off single, retired the next three batters he faced to get the win and move to 4-3 on the season. He went nine innings and gave up just four hits and one earned run.
Interestingly, this wasn't King's first bout with a no hitter.
"Me and Greg (Solomon), we threw one back at our junior college at Paradise Valley. It was exciting while it was going on, but we needed the win for the team. It was in the back of my head, but it's a tough thing to do. Once it gets broken up, you just gotta start pitching your game again, and pitch to win."
It also wasn't the first time that Northwestern's Colby Everett and Brian King met up with a no hitter on the line.
“Colby Everett is from Arizona," catcher Greg Solomon explained, "and he played in the same conference in high school as Brian, and Brian had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning, and Colby actually broke that one up in that game also."
Corna led the way for the Buckeye offense, going 2-3 at the plate with four RBIs. Every starter reached base for the Buckeyes, as they pounded out eleven hits and walked four times.
With the wins, the Buckeyes move to 26-20 and 10-10 in the Big Ten. At the moment they are in seventh place, needing to reach at least sixth place by the end of the season to secure a Big Ten Tournament bid.
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