COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State scored three runs in the third inning and five pitchers combined to give up just one run as the Buckeyes topped Xavier, 4-1, in the 2011 home opener on a chilly Tuesday evening at Bill Davis Stadium.
“It was exciting for us to finally play at home,” head coach Greg Beals said.” After 17 games on the road, there’s a comfort of playing at home and we brought good energy to the ballpark tonight.”
Ohio State starter Brett McKinney tossed five innings, giving up one run on two hits while striking out five to even his record at 1-1.
“Tonight was the best bullpen I’ve thrown all year before a game,” McKinney said. “I had three pitches working and I felt really comfortable.”
The Buckeyes opened the scoring in the third, plating three off Xavier starter Brian Muransky. David Corna was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Tyler Engle followed by blooping a single to right to put Buckeyes on first and second with nobody out. After a Brian DeLucia strikeout, Tim Wetzel singled to load the bases with one down but Ryan Cypret struck out to put the Scarlet and Gray rally in jeopardy. However, Josh Dezse stepped up to the plate and drilled a two-out single to right-center to drive in Corna and Engle. Muransky then uncorked a wild pitch to bring in Wetzel and the Buckeyes led 3-0 after three frames.
Ohio State threatened again in the fourth with runners on first and third and one out but a double play ended the threat.
Xavier then got on the board in the fifth, cutting the Buckeye lead to 3-1. Brian Bruening singled and Seth Willoughby walked to put runners and first and second and nobody out but McKinney looked like he would get out of the jam after bouncing back to strike out Patrick Paligraf and Jake Forrester. However, a two-out infield single by Mark Elwell after a wild pitch scored Bruening to make it a two-run game.
Theron Minium came on to relieve McKinney and tossed a perfect sixth before giving way to David Fathalikhani after giving up a single to lead off the seventh. Fathalikhani immediately induced a 5-4-3 double play by Willoughby and Paligraf grounded out to the mound to end the inning.
Greg Solomon tripled to left-center to lead off the seventh and scored on a wild pitch to push the Scarlet and Gray lead back to three runs at 4-1 after seven frames.
Fathalikhani hit the first two batters of the eighth and gave way to Andrew Armstrong with runners on first and second and nobody out. The left-hander then got John McCambridge to pop out, struck out Ben Thomas, the Musketeers’ top hitter heading into the game, looking and forced Ryan Bellamy to fly out to center to end the Xavier threat.
Jared Strayer gave up two singles to lead off the ninth but struck out Willoughby looking and induced a 4-6-3 double play by Paligraf to pick up his first career save.
The Buckeyes outhit the Musketeers, 7-5, and both teams committed one error.
Up next, The Buckeyes open Big Ten play with a three-game set this weekend at Bill Davis Stadium against Northwestern. First pitch for game one is slated for Friday at 6:35 p.m.
– Ohio State is 12-3 all-time in home openers at Bill Davis Stadium.
– The Buckeyes have won their last seven home openers dating back to 2005.
– McKinney threw first pitch strikes to 13 of his first 14 batters faced. The sophomore did not allow a hit until his 14th batter of the game led off the fifth inning.
– The Buckeyes held Xavier’s top four hitters (and top four in the lineup) to just one hit in 12 at-bats with three strikeouts.
– The three Buckeyes making their first appearances in Bill Davis Stadium (Tim Wetzel, Josh Dezse and Greg Solomon) combined for four of the Buckeyes’ seven hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
– The Buckeyes threw just 110 pitches in the game…a solid effort out of the pitching staff.
– The Ohio State bullpen tossed 4.0 scoreless innings, striking out four and giving up three hits.
– Only three Xavier batters had a hit in the game: Bruening had three hits and Phil Bauer and Elwell each had a hit apiece.
– Ohio State moves to 29-8 all-time against the Musketeers.
– Three guys are about to get called out…Big Time! The grass at Bill Davis Stadium … in March … after the winter we’ve had … tonight … looked crazy awesome. Crazy awesome. It was a bright green and a deep green with a checkerboard pattern in the outfield and a baseball encircling the pitcher’s mound. It looked great and the player’s said it felt great. Well done Brian Gimbel, Brian Blount and Brent Packer. Well done.
– Big Ten Conference play opens this weekend at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State hosts Northwestern at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 3:05 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday. The game Sunday will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. The Friday and Saturday games will be streamed to the internet at BigTenNetwork.com. A small feel will be charged.