COLUMBUS, Ohio The 18th-ranked Ohio State baseball team, after 24 consecutive “road” games to open the season, defeated Xavier, 9-7, Tuesday afternoon at Bill Davis Stadium in its home opener. The win, before a nice crowd of 689 fans, improved Ohio State’s record to 21-4 while Xavier falls to 13-9.
A three-run seventh inning completed a game-long comeback for the Buckeyes, who trailed 4-0 after the first inning, 6-3 after the fifth and 7-5 after the Xavier half of the seventh. Justin Miller and Dan Burkhart singled in the inning and both scored tying the game at 7-all off Ryan Dew’s double to the right field wall. Dew scored on Cory Rupert’s triple to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game.
Dean Wolosiansky pitched 3.0 innings in relief of starter Ross Oltorik to pick up the win and improve to 5-1 on the season. He surrendered just one run off three hits. Jake Hale, making his fourth appearance in the last eight days, pitched the final two innings for his fifth save of the year and his 13th finished game. Both stats lead the Big Ten Conference.
Xavier scored four runs off two hits and two walks to take a 4-0 lead after its half of the first inning. Pitcher/designated hitter Ben Thomas helped his cause and extended a 2-0 lead with a run-scoring double to center field.
Michael Stephens, playing in his first game at Bill Davis Stadium (aside from Scarlet & Gray World Series exhibitions in the fall), sent a line drive home run over the 330-foot mark along the left field line in the third inning to bring the Buckeyes to within 4-2. Zach Hurley led off the inning with a double and also scored on Stephens’ team-leading sixth homer of the year.
A pair of singles by Michael Arp and Dew plus a balk, and a sacrifice fly by Rupert plated another run in the fourth inning, making the score 4-3.
Xavier, a well-coached bunch that takes advantage of every opportunity to run, came back with two more runs off two hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch in the fifth to extend its lead to 6-3.
Ohio State chased Thomas from the mound in the sixth inning. Hurley’s fielder’s choice scored Dew, who singled with one out, and Cory Kovanda drove in Rupert from third with a two-out single. Hurley, trying to score from third, was thrown out at the plate by an on-target throw from right fielder Sean Farrell.
So, just as the Buckeyes got to within one at 6-5, Xavier came right back with another run in the seventh off a hit, a sacrifice bunt and balk. But then came Ohio State’s half of the seventh which ultimately proved to be the game deciding inning. Hurley added to the lead with his fourth home run of the season in the eighth inning, a solo shot.
Dew with his third consecutive multi-hit game he is 7-for-11 (.636) in the last three games with four runs and three RBI led a 12-hit Ohio State attack with three hits, including a double, one of six extra-base hits on the day for the Buckeyes. Hurley’s two hits extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He also had two runs and two RBI. Burkhart also had a pair of hits and a run scored while Rupert knocked in a pair of runs.
Ohio State hosts Marshall Wednesday in another 2:05 p.m. game at Bill Davis Stadium. The Herd is coming through Columbus after playing at Kentucky Tuesday afternoon.
A View From The Bill Davis Stadium Press Box: