COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State made the most of its opportunities and received a fine pitching performance from three players to win its third consecutive game and its second of this series with a 5-3 win Saturday over Michigan State at sunny but chilly Bill Davis Stadium. The No. 28 Buckeyes are now 25-7 on the season and 5-3 in the Big Ten. Michigan State dropped to 11-20 and 3-5.
Ohio State managed its five runs off just seven hits, but eight walks, a balk, two wild pitches and two crucial passed balls in the sixth inning were enough on this day to make a winner of Ohio State starter Dean Wolosiansky, who pitched into the seventh inning and improved to 7-1 on the season and 14-5 for his career.
“With the wind blowing in, the pressure was on us to play the short game,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “And it doesn’t matter who it is, but we expect our players to be able to execute. We put players in scoring positions, but didn’t get the hits.
“Dean Wolosiansky was able to settle down [after giving up three runs and seven hits through three innings] and then he gave us four strong innings. He gave our offense a chance to take the lead.”
Offensively, Zach Hurley had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run and Michael Arp had two hits. Five different Buckeyes scored runs.
Ohio State, in addition to not committing an error, got excellent relief pitching behind Wolosiansky’s solid start. Jake Hale worked the ninth inning to pick up his Big Ten-leading seventh save and his conference-best 18th finished game on the season. He took over from Drew Rucinski, who pitched 1.2 innings of one-hit, one-walk, one-strikeout baseball.
Ohio State scored two runs in the first inning off just one hit, a couple of walks and a sacrifice fly with the runner Cory Kovanda scoring the second run of the inning just ahead of a Buckeye being doubled off first base to end the inning. Hurley, who led off with a fortunate single the ball dropped harmlessly to the left of the third baseman, who had no idea where the ball was as he was looking into the bright sun scored the initial run of the game on a wild pitch. Justin Miller’s liner to right brought home Kovanda.
Michigan State tied the score at 2-all in the top of the second, scoring its runs off four singles. Seth Williams and Brandon Eckerle had run scoring hits.
Hurley’s second hit of the game in the second inning, and his Big Ten-leading 53rd hit of the season, drove in Ryan Dew from second for a 3-2 Ohio State lead. But Michigan State came right back to tie the score with a run off three hits in the top of the third. Jeff Holm doubled and scored on a single by Eric Roof.
Both teams threatened in the fourth inning, but neither scored. The Spartans got a leadoff double from catcher Seth Williams, a tank of a young man at 5-9 and 210 pounds. He moved to third on a sacrifice by Holm. The next hitter, Eckerle, also bunted. Williams came thundering down the third base line as Wolosiansky fielded the ball and flipped it to Ohio State’s rock solid catcher, Dan Burkhart. Burkhart made the catch, braced for the collision and didn’t budge as Williams crashed into him. The tag was made, Williams, a bit stunned, was out and moments later Wolosiansky picked off Eckerle from first and the inning ended with the game still tied.
“It was a big hit,” Burkhart said of his collision with Williams, “but I was ready for it. I just wanted to hang on to the ball. I was staggered myself.”
Arp ripped a leadoff single to open the fourth and he moved to third base on a balk call and a sacrifice bunt from Michael Stephens. But he was left stranded at third as the next two batters struck out and popped out to end the inning.
Ohio State regained the lead in the sixth with both runs scoring off passed balls. Tyler Engle singled with two outs and moved to third on Matt Streng’s double. The first passed ball allowed Engle to score with Streng moving to third. Streng then scored on the second passed ball of the inning, making the score 5-3.
With one out in the seventh MSU’s Jeff Holm singled, signaling the end of the line for Wolosiansky, who went 6.1 innings and allowed nine hits, three earned runs, no walks and one strikeout. Rucinski came in for his 17th appearance of the season. After Burkhart threw out Holm trying to steal, Rucinski got a groundout to end the inning.
Ohio State had an opportunity to put some distance between the runs totals, but it could not score in the seventh inning despite having the bases loaded with one out.
Michigan State starter A.J. Achter dropped to 1-3 with the loss. He pitched 6.0 innings, gave up just six hits and three earned runs. He walked six and struck out three.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box: