Talkin’ Baseball: Buckeyes Struggle with Weather, Gophers in Minnesota
By Andrew Lind
The weather in Ohio finally took a turn for the better this week, but the Ohio State baseball team wasn’t around to experience much of it, at least not over the weekend.
Cold temperatures, freezing rain and even snow interrupted their weekend plans up In Minneapolis. After multiple game delays, the Buckeyes eventually dropped two out of three games in the inaugural series at Minnesota’s Siebert Field.
Game 1: Gophers 7, Buckeyes 0
Photo by Jim Davidson
With snow showers in the area, Friday night’s game was in jeopardy from the start. The game opened with ace Jaron Long on the mound for the Buckeyes. He was coming off of a rough outing against Michigan State where he struggled with his command. He allowed a season-high eight hits over six innings against the Spartans, but this time out, Long was back to his usual self.
Both starting pitchers cruised early on until the Gophers were able to break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth. Star infielder Dan Olinger started the scoring with an RBI single to center. He quickly got a good jump off of Long and swiped second base. Long was almost out of the inning with minimal damage, but a two-out RBI double scored Olinger and an error by centerfielder Joe Ciamacco brought around another, pushing the Gophers lead to 3-0.
As the snow began to fall, it was almost impossible to see the baseball. Ohio State’s Greg Beals and Minnesota’s John Anderson decided it was best to finish the game as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.
As Friday showed, plans don’t always work out.
After a delay of almost 20 hours, starting pitcher Jaron Long was unable to continue what he started, so the Buckeyes would rely on Brett McKinney to keep the deficit at three. The day started out great, as McKinney started his outing with a strikeout, but struggled to keep the Gophers off the bases after that. A triple, double and two singles allowed the home team to extend their lead to 6-0.
Minnesota added another run in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Tyler Giannonatti to cap the scoring at 7-0.
Game 2: Buckeyes 5, Gophers 2
As soon as Game 1 was finished, the umpires announced that second game of the doubleheader would be delayed because of rain. After the immediate threat passed, the teams took the field in hopes of getting a complete game in before more storms came through Minneapolis.
Unlike the first game, when the Buckeye bats were as cold as the weather, the team came out swinging. The Buckeyes wasted no time getting on the board when Kirby Pellant’s triple brought home a run and Brad Hallberg followed with an RBI groundout, scoring Pellant. Ohio State tacked on three more runs in the top of the third, pushing the lead to 5-0.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Minnesota was finally able to string something together off of Ohio State starter Brad Goldberg in the bottom of the inning, but only managed to score a single run before the game was suspended because of heavy rain.
At the time of the delay, Goldberg was in line for his team-leading fifth win of the season.
When the game resumed on Sunday morning, the sun shining was a welcome sight for both teams. Even with the higher temperatures, the bats went cold. In the final five frames, the Buckeyes were never able to extend their lead and the Gophers were never able to string together any hits to get back into the game.
Three Ohio State relievers combined to throw five innings of one run ball after the delay, with only score coming on a wild pitch, cutting the Ohio State lead and capping the scoring at 5-2. Trace Dempsey retired the side in the bottom of the 9th, earning his Big Ten-leading 10th save of the season.
Game 3: Gophers 1, Buckeyes 0
Without the threat of rain or snow, game two of Sunday’s doubleheader was sure to finish without delay. Ohio State starter Brian King and Minnesota starter D.J. Snelten came out strong, cruising through five scoreless innings.
Like the other Buckeyes’ starters, King was back to his usual ways, tossing seven innings and allowed only one run. That run came in the bottom of the sixth when second basemen Tony Skjefte led off the inning with a solo homerun over the left field fence.
However, Snelten was slightly better, as he picked up the complete game shutout. Snelten gave up only one hit and retired the last 17 batters he faced as he led the Gophers to the series win with a 1-0 victory in the finale.
Midweek Baseball: Buckeyes 9, Mountaineers 0
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes returned home to face the West Virginia Mountaineers on Tuesday night. The Mountaineers came into the game on a three game losing streak after dropping their Big 12 home opener to Baylor, so the game looked to be an easy rebound from a rough weekend for the Buckeyes.
After pitching an inning on Saturday, Brett McKinney took the mound for his usual midweek start. McKinney rebounded from his rough outing, allowing one hit and striking out six before giving way to Jaron Long in the sixth.
Pitching continues to be the strong suit for the Buckeyes as Long and three other pitchers, including Big Ten saves leader Trace Dempsey, combined to toss four scoreless innings in relief.
Ciamacco passed the Buckeyes offensively, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, as the Buckeyes crushed the Mountaineers 9-0. With the win, the Buckeyes improved to 20-10 on the season.
Wednesday, the Buckeyes host the Marshall Thundering Herd in another midweek contest, set for 6:35 p.m. at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. Marshall enters the game with a 13-18 record, but won their series against the 19th ranked Houston Cougars over the weekend.