COLUMBUS, Ohio Eastern Michigan, coming off a series win over Mid American Conference-leading Toledo, continued its momentum toward the MAC tournament by knocking off Ohio State, 9-5, Tuesday afternoon at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State, ranked 29th, is now 36-15 overall. Eastern Michigan improved to 21-32.
MAC Player of the Week Jim Gulliver three home runs, nine runs scored last week put his bid in for a second consecutive honor with three hits, two home runs and six RBI to lead the Eagles.
Gulliver put EMU on the board with a first inning home run to right, his 11th of the year. In the second inning and after four two-out walks upped the Eagles’ lead to 2-0, Gulliver traveled around the bases again in his second at-bat, hitting a grand slam home run to right field to give his team a 6-0 lead. It was Gulliver’s fifth home run in the last four games.
After Ohio State scored in the second Ryan Dew doubled and touched home on Justin Miller’s single Eastern Michigan added solo runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings to build a 9-1 lead.
The Buckeyes tried to come back. In the seventh inning they loaded the bases with nobody out against EMU reliever Tim Combs. Matt Streng singled to right to score one run, then with one out, Cory Kovanda singled in a pair of runs to make the score 9-4 and end Combs’ day.
Pinch hitter Ben Toussant drew a walk to re-load the bases against the third Eagle pitcher of the day, Jordan Goldschmidt. Shawn Forsythe followed with a hard-hit ball, but right at the left fielder for a sacrifice fly and the Buckeyes’ fifth run of the game.
“I thought at the end of the ball game our hitters were still trying to get us into the game,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “They did a good job of competing.”
Andrew Armstrong started, pitched 3.0 innings and saw his record fall to 2-3 with the loss. He allowed four hits and five walks. Jared Strayer followed with three innings of work before giving way to Theron Minium in the seventh. Minium pitched 2.0 innings and did not allow a run while scattering three hits and walking one. Drew Rucinski worked a scoreless ninth inning.
Kendall Lewis pitched 5.0 innings and allowed just one run on seven hits with one strikeout. He evened his record at 4-4.
Ohio State can now put all its focus on its series with Iowa, Thursday through Saturday at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State enters the series in a tie for second place in the Big Ten Conference with Illinois, but the Buckeyes hold the first tie-breaker over the Illini by winning the series in Champaign last weekend. Both teams are one-half game behind Minnesota. One Penn State win over Minnesota will potentially turn the Ohio State/Iowa series into one with Big Ten championship implications… provided Ohio State does its job on the field.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box: