Buckeyes back on track

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 04/19/2013 7:21 PM
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Talkin’ Baseball: Ohio State Gets Back on Track
By Andrew Lind

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State baseball team traveled to Nebraska over the weekend to take on the surprise of the early Big Ten season, the Cornhuskers. 

In their first ever Big Ten trip to Lincoln, the Buckeyes took two of three in the most crucial series of the season thus far.

Nebraska came into the weekend second in the Big Ten, with a 7-2 record in conference play. However, their overall record was not so impressive, with 13 wins and 17 losses on the season.

Ohio State entered the three weekend contests fifth in the Big Ten, struggling once they got into conference play. At 21-10 (5-4 Big Ten), the Buckeyes hoped that a relatively unfamiliar opponent – new to the conference – could help right the ship.

Game 1: Cornhuskers 11, Buckeyes 2

Jaron Long
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jaron Long

As has been standard practice this season, OSU Head Coach Greg Beals sent ace Jaron Long to the mound for the opener. After starting the season hot, Long came into the game struggling, and this outing did nothing to help his confidence.

At 4-2 on the season, Long struggled with control in his last two outings against Michigan State and Minnesota. The lack of control has led to a rise in his ERA, which has jumped half a run per game in recent weeks to 2.68.

In what quickly seems to be a theme this season, Beals left Long in one inning too long.  After four frames, the Buckeyes were still in striking distance, until Long ran into trouble. Nebraska batted through their lineup in the fifth, leading to a five-hit, four-run inning before Beals finally gave Long this hook.

Reliever Brett McKinney replaced Long, only to give up two more runs before the inning was over. By then, the game was out of reach as the Buckeyes were down 9-2 in the sixth.

McKinney gave up a two run homerun in the sixth to cap the scoring, as the Buckeyes dropped the series opener 11-2.

Game 2: Buckeyes 6, Cornhuskers 5 (11 innings)

The Buckeyes were sure to get a win on Saturday with Brad Goldberg on the bump.  Goldberg came into the game undefeated, with a team-leading 1.85 ERA.

Brad Goldberg
Photo by Jim Davidson
Brad Goldberg

However, the Buckeyes had to battle backs from an early 4-1 deficit, with all the runs assessed to Goldberg. The heart of the Ohio State pitching rotation lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.

The Cornhuskers maintained the lead until the Buckeyes bats woke up in the seventh inning. Ohio State loaded the bases, then took the lead with Ryan Cypret’s bases-clearing double. This followed Brad Hallberg’s RBI single.

From there, Beals relied on his best relief pitchers to hold the lead. Ryan Riga and Greg Greve pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, but Trace Dempsey was unable to convert the save opportunity. Dempsey allowed a leadoff hit, which later came around to score, sending the game to extras.

Dempsey would respond well though, as he did not allow a run over the next two innings, picking up the win when the Buckeyes scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th.  Troy Kuhn led off the frame with a base knock, and later scored all the way from first on an RBI double by Tim Wetzel, giving the Buckeyes the 6-5 victory.

Game 3: Buckeyes 7, Cornhuskers 4

Brian King
Photo by Jim Davidson
Brian King

In the rubber match, the Buckeyes held on to take the series from the Huskers. Brian King threw seven strong innings, allowing only one earned run off of three hits. The senior from Chandler, Ariz. was tabbed as the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for his efforts on Sunday.

The series finale was never close, as the Buckeyes took an early 2-0 lead. Cypret was hit by a pitch to lead off the third inning, Kirby Pellant dropped a hit into shallow center field, and both were brought home by Pat Porter’s single. Cypret and Pellant combined to add another run in the fifth, when Pellant’s base knock brought home Cypret from second.

The Buckeyes broke the game open with a four-run eighth inning, extending the lead to 7-0. Doubles by Porter and Bosiokovic brought home the first run, then four-consecutive singles gave the Buckeyes a seven run advantage.

The game was mostly out of reach, but Greg Greve ran into some trouble after replacing King. Greve quickly gave up a run and was replaced by Ryan Riga, who proceeded to get the Buckeyes out of a jam.

Riga ran into trouble himself in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases and giving up consecutive RBI singles. With Nebraska on the comeback trail, and the lead shrinking to 7-3, Beals called upon Trace Dempsey for the save. Despite giving up a sacrifice fly, Dempsey shut the door on the Cornhuskers, picking up his 11th save of the season.

Looking Ahead

The Buckeyes suffered their first midweek loss of the season on Wednesday, with a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati (14-21) down at Marge Schott Stadium in Ohio’s Queen City.

Their next action begins tonight with a three-game series against Illinois in Columbus. Long will take the hill again for the Buckeyes tonight against right-hander Kevin Johnson (5-2, 2.52), while Goldberg will pitch against righty John Kravetz (3-1, 4.72) on Saturday.

Sunday’s rubber match will pit King against another Illini right-hander in John Castellanos (2-0, 3.47).  Illinois is 23-10 on the season, 5-4 in Big Ten play. Justin Parr leads the Illini with a .440 average with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 36 RBI and 31 runs scored.

Big Ten Standings:

Big Ten Overall
Team Record Pct. Record Pct.
.778 23-13 .639
.778 21-14 .600
.667 26-8 .765
.667 16-19 .457
Ohio State
.583 23-12 .657
.556 23-10 .697
Michigan State
.556 22-11 .667
.333 15-13 .536
.333 11-22 .333
.222 13-18 .419
Penn State
.000 8-24 .250

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