COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State sophomore Alex Wimmers no-hit Michigan Saturday afternoon, striking out 14 Wolverines in the process, as Ohio State took the first game of the doubleheader, 6-0. In Game 2, Ryan Dew had five hits and Dan Burkhart three RBI to lead the Buckeyes to a sweep over the Wolverines, 9-6, in front of 3,219 fans.
The wins improved 27th-ranked Ohio State’s records to 34-10 overall and 13-4 in the Big Ten Conference. The Buckeyes remain in a first-place tie with Illinois for the conference lead as the Illini have taken the first two games in their its series with Northwestern. Michigan drops to 23-21 overall and 6-11 in the Big Ten.
Wimmers, who is on the National Pitcher of the Year watch list, pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in Ohio State history, and the ninth all-time at Ohio State. He walked four batters, but three were erased by his grade school and high school buddy Burkhart, the catcher, who threw out all three Wolverines trying to steal.
“Wimmers had command of all three of his pitches,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “He did not give in to their hitters. There’s a method to his madness and he simply was not going to give in to the hitters.”
“I go out with an attitude of how I want to pitch and then I’ll throw any pitch in any count,” Wimmers, who improved to 8-1 on the season with his fourth complete game, said. “Emotions took over right after the game. It still hasn’t hit me yet, but some day it will.”
Superb fielding shortstop Tyler Engle made the defensive play of the game to preserve the no-hitter in the eighth inning. He ranged deep into the hole behind second base to make a diving stab at a ball hit by Kenny Fellows. He landed and snapped his head off the dirt, but was able to shovel the ball to a waiting Cory Kovanda at second base to get the force out.
“Engle’s play was unbelievable,” Todd said. “And some of them that he has made the last two years makes you shake your head and go whoa!’”
“I knew the no-hitter was at stake,” Engle said. “I gave the play all I had. All I was thinking about was to get one out to avoid the play going for a hit. I was hoping Kovanda would be in the area and he was standing on the bag when I looked up.”
Dew had a home run and three RBI to lead the Buckeyes’ offensively in Game 1. He hit a two-run single in the sixth inning for the first runs of the game and added his fifth home run of the season in the eighth. Ohio State added three runs off four hits and one Michigan error in the seventh to build on the lead. Zach Hurley had two hits and two runs scored, Kovanda and Burkhart had two hits and an RBI and Engle had two hits in support the heroics of Wimmers.
Chris Fetter dropped to 6-2 with the loss. He pitched 6.2 innings and gave up four earned runs, walked two and struck out five.
Dean Wolosiansky pitched 5.2 innings in Game 2 to improve to 10-1 on the season. He allowed four earned runs, walked just one and struck out five. Drew Rucinski pitched 2.1 innings of two-hit, three-strikeout relief. Jake Hale pitched the ninth for his Big Ten leading 11th save of the year.
Dew, who had hits in his final two at-bats in Game 1, went 5-for-5 in game two, including his second home run of the day to lead off the second inning and tie the game at 2-all. His teammates followed with four more runs in the second inning to take a 6-2 lead. Burkhart had a two-RBI single for the big hit.
Matt Streng’s RBI single in the third increased the lead to 7-2, but Michigan would close the lead to 7-6 with a run in the fourth a home run by Nick Urban and three more off three hits in the sixth.
A sac fly by Burkhart and Dew’s seventh hit of the day a single plated two Ohio State runs in the eighth to build a 9-6 cushion and the home team would close the game out from there.
The two teams will play Game 3 Sunday at 1:05 p.m. For $7 fans can get a ticket to the game plus a hot dog and a Coke.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box: