COLUMBUS, Ohio No. 26 Ohio State dropped an 8-7 game to No. 24 Kent State Wednesday in a back-and-forth midweek game that was as entertaining and intriguing as any regular season midweek game will be anywhere in the state of Ohio…at least this year. Promise. Ohio State is now 26-8 on the season while Kent State improves to 26-7.
Here’s why this game was entertaining: eight ties or lead changes; 33 combined hits; three outfield assists including two runners thrown out at the plate; no errors; 20 runners left on base; and a lively crowd of 872 fans on a night more conducive for huddling around a warm fire with hot chocolate and the glow of a high-def television set delivering comfort show reruns of “Happy Days” and “The Honeymooners.”
This game was also full of intriguing subplots. Consider:
Coach Bob Todd was coaching against the school that first hired him as a head coach.
Kent State was making its first appearance at Bill Davis Stadium in eight years.
Both teams are nationally ranked.
The two teams had 51 wins combined against just 14 defeats.
Both teams have the talent to win conference championships and advance to the NCAA tournament.
Here’s who starred for Ohio State: Zach Hurley had three hits, two runs, two RBI and he threw a runner out at the plate. Cory Kovanda had two hits, runs and RBI, respectively. Michael Stephens had a double, a triple and three RBI. Ryan Dew and Michael Arp each had two hits and scored a run. Jake Hale closed out his 20th game of the season with 2.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit work.
Kent State was led by second baseman Chris Tremblay, who was outstanding defensively and had four hits and two runs scored. Catcher Cory Hindel had three hits, including a triple, and three RBI. Left fielder Anthony Gallas had three hits, three RBI and he doubled up a runner at first off a terrific throw from left.
This game also featured only two one-two-three innings and every inning with a score had multiple scores, except for the KSU seventh, when just one run the winning run was scored to break a 7-all tie. Kent State scored two in the second, two in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh. Ohio State countered with two in the third, three in the fifth and two in the sixth.
The winning pitcher was KSU’s fifth pitcher: Jon Pokorny who improves to 3-2 off 2.0 innings of work. Drew Rucinski took the loss for Ohio State and is now 5-2 on the season.
“I expected a tight ball game,” Ohio State head coach Bob Todd said. “I didn’t think either team was going to walk away with this game. I think both teams were thinking about their conference weekends ahead with regard to their pitching, but each was also trying to win this ball game.”
The Golden Flashes put two men on in the second Jason Patton and Tremblay singled before .180 hitter Hindel tripled to center field to drive home both runners for a 2-0 Kent State lead.
Three consecutive two-out hits in the third inning plated two Buckeye runs to tie the score at 2-all. Hurley singled, stole second his team leading 10th of the season and scored on Kovanda’s single up the middle. Kovanda then motored around to score from first on Stephens’ double to right center.
Kent State regained the lead in the fifth with two runs off a walk and three singles. A fifth KSU run was gunned out at the plate on a fine outfield assist from the left fielder Hurley.
Ohio State took its first lead of the game at 5-4 with three runs off four hits in the fifth. Matt Streng and Hurley hit one-out singles and both scored on back-to back hits by Kovanda (a double) and Stephens (a triple).
Back came Kent State, though. A Gallas double with two on in the sixth inning scored the go ahead runs giving the Golden Flashes a 7-5 lead.
Ohio State tied it again with two runs in its half o the sixth inning off Hurley’s two-run single.
A leadoff walk in the seventh led to Kent’s eighth and winning run of the game. From that point the two teams went to their ace relievers. Ohio State’s Jake Hale matching up with Kent State’s Andrew Chafin. Chafin’s 1.1 innings pitched netted him his fifth save of the season.
Ohio State starter Dean Wolosiansky pitched 4.0 innings and gave up seven hits, two runs and he didn’t walk a batter. Kent State starter Ryan Mace went 4.1 innings and gave up eight hits and four earned runs.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box: