Buckeye Title Hopes Put On Hold as Hoosiers Rally Late
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tthe Buckeyes could have clinched a share of their first Big Ten Championship since 2009 with a win on Friday night,. Instead, a pair of Indiana runs in the ninth inning tied the ballgame, and five more in the tenth gave the Hoosiers the 7-2 win, and their own share of the conference title.
"We aren’t happy and we have a sour taste in our mouth but we still have a chance for a share of a championship," Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We have one game with Jaron Long on the mound playing for a Big Ten title and we’re excited for our opportunity tomorrow."
Ohio State (34-20, 15-8) got a very strong performance from starting pitcher Brian King, who gave up four hits and zero runs over 6.2 innings.
Despite scattering four base hits in the first two innings, the Buckeyes weren't able to plate any runs until the fourth inning when a Mike Carroll single up the middle brought home Pat Porter, who doubled to lead off the inning.
Aaron Gretz followed with a single. A Troy Kuhn base hit then scored Carroll. Other than that, however, Indiana starter Aaron Slegers was solid. He gave up nine hits over 8.1 innings, only allowing two earned runs.
Buckeye reliever Brett McKinney came in for King in the top of the seventh with two outs and stuck out Ricky Alfonso on a high fastball to end the inning. He faced one batter in the eight before giving way to Ryan Riga, who walked the first batter he faced, and then forced a ground out to Kyle Schwarber.
Rather than allow Riga to face a third batter, Beals called for Buckeye closer Trace Dempsey with two outs in the eighth. Dempsey quickly struck out Sam Travis to end the inning.
Scott Donley opened the ninth with a single for the Hoosiers. He was immediately doubled home by Michael Basil. Basil stole third and soon scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Dempsey would eventually close out the inning before any more damage was done.
The Buckeyes then went down softly in the ninth, setting the stage for the Hoosiers' five-run outburst against OSU pitcher Greg Greve in the tenth, which was capped by a Nick Ramos grand slam.
"I love this team," Dempsey said after the game. "There was not one guy in that dugout that didn't pick me up and say, 'Be ready to go tomorrow.' That's why we're so successful. Obviously, that's not how I wanted it to go. I had three outs to win the Big Ten Championship. There's no excuses, I just choked."
Ohio State and Indiana will play again on Saturday at 4:05 pm. The series is still on the line, but more importantly, so is the Big Ten Championship. With a win, Ohio State can still claim a share of the conference title.
"This team has been resilient all year long," Beals said. "We've got an opportunity to do it again tomorrow. As bad as this tastes right now, we've got a one-game playoff for a championship tomorrow."
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