WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Junior J.B. Shuck pitched six solid innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball and Ohio State held off a late UConn rally to win, 6-4, Sunday at the Santaluces Sports Complex. The Buckeyes snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 5-4 on the season. UConn drops to 1-7.
Shuck improved to 2-1 with the win and Jake Hale pitched the final three innings to record the save. Justin Miller had two hits and two RBI to pace the Buckeyes offensively. Dan Mahoney drops to 0-1 with the loss.
Ohio State wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. After Tony Kennedy and Cory Kovanda led off the game with consecutive walks, the duo moved to third on a long fly out and Miller sent both of them across the plate with a single to center that made the score 2-0. The two RBI increased Miller’s team-high total to 10 on the year.
UConn didn’t get a hit off Shuck until the third inning, a single by leadoff hitter Pierre LePage. But after he was sacrificed over to second, freshman shortstop Tyler Engle made a decisive and smart throw to Cory Rupert at third, who erased LePage with the tag. Shuck fanned the next hitter to end the inning with Ohio State still ahead by a 2-0 score.
Another determined play by Engle started a two-out, two-run rally for the Buckeyes in the fourth that increased the lead to 4-0. Zach Hurley reached on a double and moved over to third on a ground out. He scored when Engle hustled down the first base line to beat a throw from third, with an error getting charged on the play. Ben Toussant, who had walked, moved to second and then he later scored when Tony Kennedy ripped a single to left.
Ryan Dew led off the fifth with a double and scored on a two-base error, upping the lead to 5-0. The Buckeyes missed a golden opportunity to put the Huskies in a deep freeze, though, as they were not able to add any more runs in the inning despite loading the bases with nobody out. UConn second baseman LePage made a diving stop to start a typical 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Shuck then worked through another scoreless inning and completed his day on the mound with this fine line: 6.0 innings pitched with just one hit allowed, three strikeouts and three walks.
Hale came in to pitch in the seventh for his first action of the season. He quickly struck out the first two batters he faced but then Harold Brantley sent one into the slipstream in left center for a solo home run that made the score 5-1.
Shuck got the run back, though. Inserted into the designated hitter position, he led off with a single, and moved to third on a two-base throwing error. He scored on Dan Burkhart’s sacrifice fly for a 6-1 Ohio State lead.
UConn came right back though, scoring three runs off three hits and two errors in their half of the eighth inning off Hale. He made it through the inning, though, and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure Ohio State’s fifth win of the season.
Get-Away Day Notes: