COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State dropped a 5-2 decision to Illinois in the middle game of a three-game set Saturday afternoon at Bill Davis Stadium.
Three Illinois pitchers, led by freshman starter Kevin Johnson, held the Buckeyes to a season-low three hits on the day.
It did not take long for the Illini to get on the board, taking advantage of an ordinary fly ball turned wind-aided triple off the top of the right field wall be leadoff hitter Willie Argo. The sophomore center fielder was promptly driven two pitches later on a sharp single to left by Craig Lutes as Illinois took the 1-0 lead. After a strikeout of Casey McMurray and a walk to Illini cleanup hitter Aaron Johnson, first baseman Michael Giller extended the Illinois lead to 2-0 with double to left-center, driving in Lutes. However, with runners on second and third and just one down, Ohio State starter Dean Wolosiansky responded with a pair of punchouts to end the top of the first.
The Buckeyes answered back to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. Zach Hurley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, moved to third on a Dan Burkhart single to right and was driven in on an RBI fielder’s choice by Michael Stephens.
After a quiet second inning, Wolosiansky got two outs in the third but that is when the Illini did their damage. Brandon Hohl singled, Christian Cummins doubled to right-center, Adam Davis followed with a walk and Josh Parr provided the big blow with a three run triple just over the outstretched arm of Hurley on the warning track in left to give Illinois the 5-1 lead after three.
After the RBI fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first by Michael Stephens, Johnson settled down to retire 14 of the next 15 Ohio State hitters before a Cory Kovanda single with one out in the sixth.
The Buckeyes were able to cut into the Illini lead and make it 5-2 in the top of the seventh when Matt Streng’s two-out single to center drove in Cory Rupert, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
Jared Strayer did a solid job in relief for the Buckeyes, tossing five scoreless innings in the longest outing of his career. Dan Burkhart extended his team-leading hitting streak to eight games, going 1-for-3 on the day.
The Buckeyes and Illini will wrap up the three-game set Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium.