COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State hitters supported the 12-strikeout of Alex Wimmers with a nine-run second inning and the Buckeyes cruised to a 13-4 win over Iowa in the first game of a three-game, regular season-closing set at Bill Davis Stadium. Game 2 will be Friday at 6:35 p.m.
The win was the 400th Big Ten win for 22ndyear Ohio State coach Bob Todd, and it improved the team’s records to 37-15 overall and to 16-6 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa is now 16-33 and 4-17. The Buckeyes remain one-half game behind Minnesota in the chase for the Big Ten championship. The Golden Gophers let a 6-0 lead slip away at Penn State, but scored an unearned run in the ninth inning to win, 7-6, and improve its Big Ten mark to 16-5.
The Buckeyes, who have scored 10, 12 and 13 runs in their current three-game Big Ten winning streak, sent 13 batters to the plate in the second and scored its nine runs off six hits and one error. Tyler Engle opened the inning with a triple, Michael Stephens had a three-run home run, his team-high 11th of the season, and Justin Miller continued his tear – he is 12-for-his-last-18 at the plate; .667 – with a two-run single to spark the Buckeyes.
Three more runs in the third inning, two of them on leading hitter Ryan Dew’s second double of the game, increased the lead to 13-0 and at this point, with Wimmers on the mound, there was no doubt about the outcome of this game.
That’s because Wimmers was good, again. He fought through stiffness from the long inning and pitched 6.0 innings, gave up just five hits, no runs, walked two and struck out 12 Hawkeyes to increase his Big Ten-leading total to 122 on the season. He struck out the side in the first inning and he struck out eight consecutive batters between the fourth and sixth innings. He improved to 9-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to a Big Ten-best 2.58.
Josh Barrera came into the game in the seventh and struck out the side. He followed with a scoreless eighth inning as well in his best outing of the season.
Kurtis Muller hit a two-out, ninth inning grand slam home run for Iowa’s runs. It was the second consecutive year Muller has hit a grand slam against Ohio State.
Zach Hurley led four Buckeyes with multiple hits with three hits and two RBI. Stephens had two hits, two runs and three RBI.
Miller, the team captain and Big Ten player of the week who is on a six-game hitting streak, had two hits and three RBI. In the process, he moved into sole possession of second-place in career hits with 263, passing Mark Carek (1995-98). He also moved his average over .300, to .301.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box: