Buckeyes are Luckeyes in Sweep of Northern Kentucky
By John Porentas
Ohio State (30-13) ran its current winning streak to seven in a row on Wednesday with a sweep of a doubleheader against visiting Northern Kentucky (8-37).
Are the Buckeyes getting good at the right time of year? OSU Head Coach Greg Beals said that at least on this day, there were just plain lucky.
"We didn't play very well," said Beals.
"We were fortunate, and sometime it's good to be lucky, but at the end of the day we got the two wins we came out to get."
Northern Kentucky arrived in Columbus with a dismal 8-35 record having lost 9 of their last 11. This matchup looked like a sure thing for OSU, and they did in fact get two wins, but not the way Beals or the Buckeyes expected.
Game one saw OSU pitching give up eight runs on eight hits to the Norsemen who entered the game hitting .220 as a team. Northern Kentucky actually enjoyed a 7-3 lead after a five-run outburst in the fourth inning, but the Buckeyes answered with four runs of their own in the inning to tie the game at 7 all.
Each team added a run in the sixth, and Northern Kentucky was still right in it until the weirdness started in the eighth.
With a OSU runners at first and second and two out NKU catcher Cody Kuzniczci attempted a pick off the runner at first. The throw got away from first baseman Logan Spurlin who immediately impeded the runner at first by grabbing him and actually laying on him. Meanwhile, the runner at second advanced to third. When the dust finally settled, first base umpire Jimmy Craig ruled that the runner at first would have advanced two bases as a result of the interference, not just one, and awarded that runner third base. Since that base was occupied, the lead runner was forced home with what proved to be the winning run as the Buckeyes held on for the 9-8 win.
gets past first baseman Logan Spurlin who then interfered with the base runner, Joe Ciamacco.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Game two was almost as strange. Northern Kentucky held a 2-0 lead after 5 and a half innings, but OSU tallied four runs in the sixth on a grand slam home run by Brad Hallberg. OSU had loaded the bases on two infield hits and a bunt single, and with two outs, Hallberg delivered a bomb over the left field fence OSU added another run in the seventh for a 5-2 lead, but couldn't protect it. Three runs in eighth for Northern Kentucky tied the game a 5-5.
"It was a big hit from Hallberg, the grand slam, that was huge," said Beals. "
With the score still tied 5-5 the Buckeyes once again loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning. Pinch hitter Aaron Gretz hit a chopper down the first base line that looked like it would go foul, but NKU pitcher Brett Loeding attempted to make a play on the ball. He booted it, and the ball kicked away from him into foul territory allowing the winning run to cross the plate.
"In order to chop like that the spin would have been a hook spin, so it would have kicked foul most likely," said Beals.
"Their guy went and tried to make a play and it kicked off of him and went loose."
The bottom line is that with some luck the Buckeyes won two, though Beals did see some things beyond luck he liked in his team.
"Give our guys credit, we fought back,' said Beals.
"Both games we were down and both games had big innings to pick us up, had four-run innings to pick us up in both games.
The Buckeyes will next be in action this weekend with a three-game Big Ten series in Evanston, Illinois, against Northwestern. Brad Goldberg, who has been OSU's Sunday starter but got the Friday call last weekend due to an injury to normal Friday starter Jaron Long, will again get the Friday call this weekend.
"We're going to do it the same way we did last week," said Beals, "Goldberg, King, Long, in that order."
"Last weekend we won. Don't mess with it if it's not broken."
Long had a wart surgically removed from his pitching hand last week. The wart and ensuing surgery prevented him from throwing his change up which is his out-pitch.
"He's thrown it some this week in his in-between work," said Beals.
"He's scheduled to throw his bullpen tomorrow and we will work on the change up He's been throwing it in his daily throwing program, but he's scheduled to throw his bullpen tomorrow."
Box Score Game One
Box Score Game Two
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