Talkin’ Baseball: Buckeyes Sweep Defending B1G Champions
By Andrew Lind
The Ohio State baseball team began the 2013 Big Ten season with a critical trip to West Lafayette, Ind. to take on the defending Big Ten Champion Purdue Boilermakers.
The series marked the first games at brand new Alexander Field in West Lafayette, but it was not the christening Purdue had hoped for. The Boilermakers were outscored 25-4 during a three-game sweep on their home field over the weekend.
As usual, it started with Ohio State’s pitching.
Game 1: Buckeyes 10, Boilermakers 1
On Friday night, the Buckeyes sent All-Big Ten pitcher Jaron Long to the mound. Per usual, Long was able to hold the opponent off the bases, retiring 14 of 15 Boilermakers through the first seven innings.
“Jaron pitched well again,” said Head Coach Greg Beals Friday night.
“And not only was able to get us off on the right foot but he again was able to eat up innings and keep our bullpen intact for the doubleheader tomorrow.”
Long, the foundation of the Buckeyes’ pitching staff, came into the contest with a 3-1 record and a 2.36 ERA, good for second on the team among starting pitchers. Friday’s start was no different than any other, as Long allowed only five hits over 8 innings in the 10-1 victory over Purdue.
While pitching has been the steady hand for the team, the bats finally woke up for this series as well.
The Buckeyes threatened to break the game open early, loading the bases in the second inning. However, they only managed to get a single run across the plate in the frame. Shortstop Kirby Pellant, who garnered Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his play over the weekend, hit his first career home run to double the Buckeyes lead in the third.
From there, the Buckeyes never looked back, as they were able put some distance between themselves and the Boilermakers with a four-run fourth inning. A pair of walks and a Purdue error loaded the bases for Greg Solomon. An RBI single from Solomon, followed by a three-run triple from Tim Wetzel gave the Buckeyes a 6-0 lead and chased the Purdue starting pitcher from the game.
Ohio State added a run in the top of the seventh on a wild pitch, and then added three more in the top of the eighth when Brad Hallberg’s RBI double plated two runs. Hallberg’s hit was followed by a wild pitch that scored Pellant, extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 10-0.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Boilermakers were finally able to get to Long for their first run, but Tyler Giannonatti came on to pitch a scoreless ninth for the Buckeyes.
Game 2: Buckeyes 8, Boilermakers 3
With inclement weather approaching, the series was adjusted to feature a doubleheader on Saturday. Despite the forecast, the bats stayed hot for the Buckeyes, who tallied a season-high 17 hits in the first game of the day.
The Buckeyes won the first game, 8-3, and then took the nightcap, 7-0, to improve to 15-6 on the season.
“It’s great to sweep the weekend to be 3-0 in the conference,” Beals said.
“More than anything, I just like how we’re playing baseball. We’re pitching well, throwing strikes, playing good defense and getting timely hits. We didn’t commit an error all weekend and I think we’re developing an identity on the offensive side of the ball as to how we’re going to hit and score runs.”
For the second-consecutive game, the Buckeyes were able to load the bases early. Five consecutive singles pushed Ryan Cypret and Pat Porter across the plate, giving OSU a 2-0 advantage. Although they left the bases loaded, the Buckeyes forced Purdue starting pitcher Jordan Minch to throw 47 pitches in the top of the first.
To counter Minch, the Buckeyes sent Bradley Goldberg to the hill. Goldberg came into the contest with a team-leading 1.52 ERA and an unblemished record. The only downfall for Goldberg in this outing was his pitch count as he had trouble with his command, often loading the bases.
Despite his lack of control, he was able to minimize the damage, giving up only one earned run on two hits over five innings.
In the top of the third, the Buckeyes added an RBI single and a squeeze bunt, pushing the lead to 4-0. Ohio State tacked on four more runs, two in the sixth and two in the seventh, to cap the scoring for the away team.
Ryan Riga came on in relief of Goldberg and was handed a seven run lead to work with in the sixth. Purdue plated two runs off of Riga, who earned his first career save, but that would be all the closer the Boilermakers would get.
Game 3: Buckeyes 7, Boilermakers 0
The nightcap featured fewer fireworks than the early game, as both starting pitchers cruised through the first four innings. Like the rest of the series, though, the Buckeyes were able to strike first. In the top of the fifth, a single up the middle from Hallberg scored Pellant, giving Ohio State a 1-0 lead.
The single run was enough, as Ohio State starter Brian King kept the Boilermakers out of scoring position all night. Unlike the first game of the day, which featured every Buckeye starter reaching base, the nightcap moved fairly quickly.
Runs were at a minimum through eight innings until three consecutive singles gave Ohio State a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, the Buckeyes put runners on the corners and three singles and an RBI groundout extended the lead to 7-0.
In the non-save situation, Trace Dempsey came on to replace King, who tossed eight scoreless innings and struck out a career-high eight batters. Dempsey pitched a perfect ninth inning as the Buckeyes swept the defending Big Ten Champion Boilermakers.
Ohio State returns home to Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium to take on Toledo, Tuesday night at 5 p.m. ET. The Rockets are 9-12 on the season. On Wednesday, the Buckeyes will travel to Athens to take on Ohio University. The Bobcats are 4-18 on the season. The Rockets and Bobcats played each other last weekend, with Toledo taking two of three.