Buckeyes Meekly Bow Out of Tournament
By John Porentas
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn - In a game that summed up their season the Buckeyes were eliminated from the Big Ten tournament when they were shutout by Nebraska 5-0.
OSU lacked offense all year, even in their wins. Pitching took them a long way, but when they played against better competion, the glaring weakness of lack of offensive punch took its toll. That was especially evident in the last two weeks of the season when they played a gauntlet of nationally-ranked teams that included Georgia Tech, Oregon, Loiusville, and Indiana. The Buckeyes were 2-8 against those teams and simply could not score enough runs to win.
"We're incredibly disappointed in the results of today and the results of the tournament and the results of the last two weeks," said Head Coach Greg Beals.
"We weren't able to get it done yet again today."
OSU starter Jaron Long pitched well enough to win against Nebraska, but just didn't get the run support from the offense. Long had one rocky inning, the fourth, in which he gave up three runs. He gave up just five total hits in seven complete innings, He struck out three while walking just one.
"I thought the offense was going to pull around. It just didn't end up happening," said Long.
It was a typical frustrating day for the OSU offense. In the first inning they moved a runner to third with none out, but could not score him. In the third they put runners at second and third with one out, and again failed to score. A rally of any kind in either of those innings may have changed the complexion of the game, but the Buckeye batting order could not produce the big hit. It all added up to another punchless performance on offense and another loss against a quality opponent.
"This is disappointing," said Beals.
"We were in position to do something and put Ohio State baseball back in championship form. We had a missed opportunity this year."
The Buckeyes are squarely on the NCAA bubble now. As a result, there is a good chance that their season is over. Though they still remain hopeful of an NCAA at-large bid, there was a tendancy to look to the future after the loss to Nebraska.
"Our hitters, we have got to execute better as we move forward in the program," said Beals.
"We have recruited diligently on the mound and we have recruited for speed which plays defense and we've got to do better on the offensive side of things."
Beals felt that this year's Buckeye batting order may have psyched itself out some.
"We identified ourselves as a pitching and defense team after our spring break and after we had been out and played 15 or 20 times and we learned a little bit about ourselves.
"Since we identified ourselves as a pitching and defense strong team, and we are that, and I think that took a little bit of edge off of our hitters in the way that they felt if we scored a couple of runs our pitchers are going to win the game as opposed to always being in an offensive mindset.
"That just snowballed. Then we saw the competition that we saw in the last couple of weeks and our offense at times was just suffocating to our team, to our duggout and to the momentum of games."
"I still have a very bad taste in my mouth and the back of my head is spinning for the future."