Stranded Runners Cost Buckeyes Against Oregon
By Andrew Lind
The opportunity was there, standing 90 feet away. The Ohio State baseball team was in position to steal Game 1 of a three-game series against the sixth-ranked Oregon Ducks. Standing on third base in a tie game, the winning run could have been the spark that the Buckeyes needed. Instead, the runner was left stranded when the inning was ended by the third out. The squandered opportunity summed up the weekend, as the Buckeyes were swept by the Ducks in the biggest series of the season.
The Buckeyes stranded 22 runners over the course of the series against the Ducks, a team with all the pieces in place for a run at the College World Series. If the Buckeyes have any chance of going far in the tournament, getting a hit with runners in scoring position will be crucial.
The Ducks did what they Buckeyes could only dream of, especially in the late innings of Game 1. Like clockwork, the leadoff hitter would record a single, which would be followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to scoring position with one out.
The Buckeyes, however, would put a runner, or two, on base with one or more outs, lowering their chances to bring the runner home.
Both team squandered opportunity after opportunity, but like all good teams eventually do, the Ducks finally took advantage in the top of the 11th inning. After a leadoff single, a perfectly placed bunt led to reliever Brett McKinney rushing his throw and tossing it into left field. With Golden Spikes nominee Ryon Healy coming to the plate, Head Coach Greg Beals decided to intentionally walk him to load the bases and cause a force-out at any base. A base hit by another Golden Spikes nominee, Mitchell Tollman, brought home two runs and gave the Ducks an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
A two-run lead seemed insurmountable because the Buckeyes have struggled to get timely hits all season.
In post season play, the teams that get a leadoff hitter on base and the teams that take advantage of a runner in scoring position are the teams that play deep into the College World Series. If the Buckeyes don’t turn on the switch now, with only a week left in the regular season, don’t expect them to do any damage when they likely go on the road for the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament.
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