BRADENTON, Fla. Ohio State erupted for 16 runs off 20 hits and ran away from Kansas, 16-5, Friday at Manatee Community College. The game concludes Ohio State’s spring trip to Bradenton, Fla. The Buckeyes went 4-2 on the trip and are now 9-6 on the season. Kansas drops to 13-9.
Chris Macke, making his second start of the season, sparked the Buckeyes offensively with a grand slam home run and six RBI. He had plenty of help. Cory Kovanda had four hits, three runs scored and three RBI. J.B. Shuck and Dan Burkhart had three hits apiece. Shuck scored three times and Burkhart scored twice. Cory Rupert continued his hot hitting with men on base by knocking in a pair of runs.
The 20 hits which tied a season high and season-high 16 runs scored was more than enough support for starter Jake Hale and relievers Dean Wolosiansky and Alex Wimmers. Hale picked up the win with 5.0 innings of seven-hit, four-run work. He is 1-0 on the year. Wolosiansky and Wimmers each pitched two innings and were overpowering in not giving up an earned run.
The game started off slow. Hale got out of a two-out, bases loaded situation in the bottom of the first by getting Erik Morrison to fly out to right fielder Michael Arp.
Kansas pitcher Wally Marcier waltzed through the first three innings, allowing just one base runner. Kovanda sparked a two-run fourth inning for the Buckeyes with a leadoff double. He scored on single by Rupert and Rupert scored on a single by Macke to give the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead.
Kansas threatened in its half of the fourth with men on second and third with nobody out, but Hale struck out two and got a ground out to end the inning and preserve the lead.
The Buckeyes, obviously figuring the lefty Marcier out the second time through the order, broke the game open with six runs off seven singles six of them to left field to take a commanding 8-0 lead in the fifth. Burkhart started the inning with a high bouncer over the third-baseman’s head and after Tony Kennedy singled to right, the next four batters singled to left field. Rupert and Macke each had their second RBIs of the game in the inning.
Kansas cut that commanding lead in half moments later with a two-out, three-run home run by Morrison the big hit of the inning, making the score 8-4.
Ohio State trumped the Jayhawks’ four-run inning by scoring four more in the sixth on Macke’s grand slam home run. It was the fifth-year senior’s first career home run and it put the Buckeyes up by eight once again, 12-4.
Burkhart and Kovanda teamed up to give the Buckeyes a 13-4 lead in the seventh. Burkhart ripped a double down the right field line for his third hit of the game and Kovanda’s fourth hit of the game a single drove Burkhart home.
Three more runs were scored in the ninth on RBI singles by Ryan Dew and Tyler Engle. Brian DeLucia was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for another run.
Ohio State opens its home season Wednesday at 2 p.m. against the Pitt Panthers.
That’s it from Florida.
Baseball Bits and Pieces from Florida: