Buckeyes Lose to No. 10 Louisville 6-3
Beals still upbeat despite recent losses
By John Porentas
The murderer's row portion of OSU's out of conference schedule ended Tuesday night with a 6-3 loss to No. 10 Louisville. Louisville's Coco Johnson provided all the offense the Cardinals needed with a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run round tripper later in the game that went over the wall in deep center field just to the left of the 400 foot sign.
The Cardinal pitching staff entered the game with a 2.40 ERA, fourth-best in the nation, and averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, tops in the NCAA. The Buckeyes managed three runs against them, their first runs scored since the series opener against Oregon last Friday. Trailing 6-3, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two down in the eighth inning, but closer Nick Burdi, he of the 92 mph slider and 100 mph fastball, slammed the door on them.
Last weekend, the Buckeyes faced an Oregon pitching staff with very similar kind of numbers. They put just one run on the board in three games against Oregon. The net result was an 0-4 stretch for the Buckeyes in their matchups with Oregon and Louisville.
So why play such a tough non-conference schedule at this time of year? OSU Head Coach Greg Beals says he is not at all sorry for the way he scheduled, because despite the four losses, Beals feels his team is better off for having faced top-flight teams and top-flight pitching. .
"What we hope is that when they see pitching from Indiana is that they'll be like 'Ok'. The Indiana pitching staff is good but it's not going to be like 'Oh, I haven't seen that before,'" Beals said after the loss to Louisville.
For Beals, the main event is yet to come, because his team has a chance to claim a regular-season league championship, and for him, that is the goal. The non-conference games were a means to sharpen his team to achieve that goal, and he has no second thoughts for having made the schedule that way despite the losses.
"No, I don't," said Beals when asked if he had any regrets.
"It's all going to be determined by this weekend.
"There's a very, very strong possibility that the Buckeyes are going to be in a pile on that field on Saturday night. (celebrating a championship)
"That exists, and nobody will remember a thing (about the losses) if we do that.
"We'll be Big Ten champions if we win two out of three games this weekend, and nobody will remember a thing.
"We'll take a picture and we'll put it on the wall in the office. That's a fact."
The Buckeyes are currently in a three-way tie for second in the league with Minnesota and Nebraska. The second place teams are just one game back of league-leading Indiana, so the Buckeyes control not only their own fate, but also the fate of the Cornhuskers and Gophers. If the Buckeyes sweep Indiana, the are guaranteed at least a portion of the title no matter what else happens. If they win two, the only thing that could keep them out of first is if Minnesota should sweep Michigan or Nebraska should sweep Illinois.
The bottom line is that the Buckeyes control their own destiny, and Beals likes it that way.
"I told the guys in the huddle out in the outfield (after the Louisville game), if I had told you in our meeting on August 25 that you would have a three-game set with Indiana, at home, win two, win the Big Ten, would you put all your chips in? I don't care what else happens, what our record is, I don't care anything about the season, you get a three game set with Indiana, winner takes all. Are you in on that or not? There were all 'Chips in, coach.'"
Beals likes his team's chances, and a big part of that confidence goes back to the tough schedule they just plowed through.
"We've got a three-game set her at home to decide it all, and we're not going to see anything, we're not going to be surprised by anything, because of what we've seen the last couple weeks," said Beals.