COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State tuned up for a big weekend against Michigan by defeating Akron, 7-3, Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium in front of 987 fans. The win improved No. 27 Ohio State’s record to 32-10. Akron drops to 14-28.
Michael Stephens and Dan Burkhart had three RBI apiece to lead Ohio State. Cory Kovanda scored two runs and five Ohio State pitchers had 11 strikeouts as opposed to just two walks while scattering nine hits.
Andrew Armstrong made his first start since March 23 and his first appearance since March 29, vs. Penn State, due to a lingering arm issue. In a nice-to-have-him-back effort, Armstrong went 3.0 innings, allowed four hits, gave up two earned runs, walked a batter and struck out three. He also picked up the win to improve to 2-1 on the season.
“The key was our pitchers pitched ahead and didn’t walk people,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “It was good to see Andrew Armstrong come back. He isn’t pitching like he did for us in the fall, but I hope he keeps improving and gets better and better.”
Former Ohio State assistant coach Pat Bangtson’s Zips took a 2-0 lead with a couple of runs off a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice in the third inning off Armstrong.
Ohio State responded in a big way, putting a handful of runs up on the board all with two out in its half of the third to take a 5-2 lead. Stephens had a two-run single and Burkhart crushed a Scott Foster pitch deep into right center field for a three-run home run, his eighth of the season to tie Stephens for the team lead.
Stephens drove in Kovanda with a double in the fifth inning and Ryan Dew singled home Stephens to increase the Buckeyes’ lead to 7-2.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jared Strayer was putting together his second consecutive effective relief appearance. Entering the game in the fourth inning, Strayer pitched 3.0 innings and allowed just two hits, walked one and struck out two Zips. He left at the start of the seventh inning but not before tying his career high in innings pitched, set previously vs. Marshall back on April 1.
Dean Wolosiansky, Eric Best and Jake Hale all pitched an effective one inning to close the game out strong from a staff standpoint. Each pitcher struck out two batters.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:
- Ever wonder about the nickname Zips? Some of us in the press box did, so here’s the story: It is short for “Zippers,” those rubber winter overshoes popular a long time ago and, legend has it, were more than likely manufactured in Akron.
- Zippy the Kangaroo was chosen as the mascot because the kangaroo is “fast, agile, and powerful with undying determination all the necessary qualities of an athlete.”
- Junior centerfielder Chris Griffin, from Pickerington, made his first collegiate start. Typical centerfielder Michael Stephens was the DH vs. Akron.
- Ryan Dew made just his sixth leftfield start of the year. Zach Hurley had the night off after 41 consecutive starts.
- Dew grass-stained his way into the team’s diving outfielders club with a diving catch in the fourth inning that saved at least one run with Akron leading at the time, 2-0.
- Michael Arp recorded his eighth diving catch of the season with a grab to end the sixth inning.
- Nine Buckeyes have hit triples this season after Justin Miller hit the first of his career in the team’s five-run third inning. The triple was the 23rd of the season for Ohio State, just two off the school single season record.
- Miller closed the eighth inning by ranging deep toward second base on the grass to grab a dying ball off the bat of Mick Solitario and throw him out at first. The Zips had runners at second and third at the time.
- “Calling all Parrotheads. Calling all Parrotheads. Come in Parrotheads.” Saturday is Jimmy Buffett “Parrothead” Day at Bill Davis Stadium. Wear your tropical clothing, kick back to your favorite Jimmy Buffett favorites all game long. And win prizes before the game during a karaoke contest. First place: tickets to see Buffett in Cincinnati in August.
- Friday is “Scarlet Fever” night at Bill Davis Stadium. Be a part of it: wear scarlet.
- The Buckeye Diamond Club appreciation day cookout for Diamond Club members is Saturday. The cookout begins at 12:30 on the baseball office terrace along the left field line.
- Not a member yet of the Diamond Club yet? Call the baseball office at (614) 292-1075 for more information.
- The Big Ten Network will televise all three games of the series against Michigan this weekend (May 1-3) at Bill Davis Stadium.
- Please note: the game time for the Friday Ohio State vs. Michigan game will be 7 p.m. and not 6:35 p.m. Saturday and Sunday starts are at 1:05 p.m.