TAMPA, Fla. Led by two home runs and four runs batted in from junior third baseman Brian DeLucia, Ohio State defeated Cincinnati, 6-5, Sunday at Red McEwen Field to complete play in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge with a 3-0 record. UC drops to 0-3 with losses to Purdue, Michigan and the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes had to battle the Bearcats, whom they were playing for the first time since 2003, in a back-and-forth game that featured seven ties and lead changes. Sophomore Drew Rucinski picked up the win in relief, pitching 3.1 innings of one-hit, no-run ball. Jake Hale got the save with an additional 1.1 innings of effective relief work. The big senior retired five of six batters he faced, including three by strikeout, and gave up just one hit and one walk. He recorded his 12th career save, tying him for fifth on Ohio State’s career saves list.
Cincinnati touched Ohio State starter Dean Wolosianski for runs in each of the first three innings, but after Ohio State fell behind 2-0 in the second, one swing of DeLucia’s bat in the bottom of the second gave Ohio State a 3-2 lead. After Justin Miller and Cory Rupert had reached base with singles, DeLucia crushed a Brian Garman pitch over the left center field wall for a three run home run, the team’s first of the year.
Cincinnati came right back with a two-out, two-run home run by Justin Riddel to reclaim the lead at 4-3 after its half of the third.
Ohio State junior Michael Stephens, moments after making a diving stab of a low liner to end UC’s third inning, stroked a double to lead off the Buckeyes’ third and he scored on Dan Burkhart’s triple, tying the score at 4-all. The triple was Burkhart’s second of the year.
DeLucia then led off the fourth with another home run, this time a no-doubt line drive to left, giving the Buckeyes a 5-4 lead.
A Cameron Satterwhite home run in the fifth inning tied the score once again, and two singles later the day was done for Wolosianski, who scattered nine hits and gave up five runs in 4.1 innings of work. Rucinski, who pitched so well in relief Friday vs. Notre Dame, came in and struck out two Bearcats to get the Buckeyes out of the inning.
After Rucinski mowed down the Bearcats three-up-three-down in the sixth, the Buckeyes manufactured a run to take a 6-5 lead. Stephens reached on an error and moved to second on a balk. Justin Miller laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Stephens to third base, and then Stephens scored on a sacrifice fly by Burkhart.
That would be it for the scoring as Rucinski retired the first seven batters he faced and 11 of 13 before turning the game over to Hale, Ohio State’s most experienced pitcher, with runners on first and third in the eighth inning. Hale got the Buckeyes out of the jam with a groundout, and then he came back to strike out the side in the ninth, including called third strikes on Spina and another UC power hitter, Riddel, who homered three times during the “Challenge.”
UC reliever Andrew Burkett shut the Buckeye bats down, retiring all eight batters he faced from the sixth inning on.
So the Buckeyes leave the first of five Florida trips with a 3-0 record and looking forward to games next week in Jacksonville at the Kennel Club Classic.
Game Notes from Florida, Volume III…