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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– Ohio State battled Indiana for a second consecutive day Saturday but the Buckeyes couldn’t generate enough offense to offset an early IU charge and as a result dropped Game 2 to the Hoosiers, 5-3, before 958 fans at sun-drenched Sembower Field.

After scoring an unearned run in the first, the Hoosiers matched a three-run Ohio State second inning with three of its own to go up 4-3, and then they added another run in the third to lead 5-3 with the fans settling in for a potentially long afternoon. But from that point on the offense came to a screeching halt and the game was a pitchers’ battle. Both teams are now 3-2 in the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State is now 11-13 overall and Indiana improves to 19-11.

“It was a good ball game…a well-played ball game,” Ohio State coach Greg Beals said. “We had a couple of situations offensively where we needed to get a hit. If we get two hits in two different spots we win the game. Yesterday we capitalized on our situations offensively and got the big hits. Today we were a couple of hits away.”

The Buckeyes were fortunate to get out of the first inning giving up only one unearned run as the first three Hoosiers reached base. A rare force play at second turned an Alex Dickerson single into a fielder’s choice that brought home the lone run of the inning. Buckeye starter Brett McKinney got out of the inning with two more outs, including a long run and catch in foul territory by David Corna for the second out of the inning.

Ohio State rallied in the second with three runs off three hits to take a 3-1 lead. Greg Solomon was hit by a pitch to open the inning, went to second on Brad Hallberg’s 0-2 single and scored on a single from Matt Streng. Hallberg came around to score on a suicide squeeze from Tyler Engle, his second such RBI in the two games. Streng then scored from second on a first-pitch single to center from Brian DeLucia.

IU answered, though, to take a 4-3 lead. Michael Basil had an RBI double and Matt Serfling and Jarrud Sabourin had run-scoring singles in IU’s three-run counter-attack.

Then Wes Wilson led off the Hoosier third with a solo home run to left to increase the lead to 5-3.

McKinney followed that home run by retiring the next 11 Hoosiers in order to keep the score tight. He was relieved in the sixth by Theron Minium with a man on second. Minium promptly got the third out of the inning and McKinney’s fine day featured 5.2 innings pitched, eight hits, five runs, four earned runs, no walks and five strikeouts. He dropped to 1-2 with the loss.

IU starter Chad Martin, meanwhile, settled in nicely as well to retire 16 of the next 20 batters after Ohio State scored its three runs. He went 8.0 innings and scattered seven hits, gave up three runs with one walk and three strikeouts. He is now 2-1 with the win.

Ohio State had two men on with one out in the seventh, but Martin coaxed an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning unscathed and holding a 5-3 lead. Martin retired the side in order in the eighth before giving way to Ryan Halstead, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save.

Minium and David Fathalikhani combined for 2.2 scoreless innings in relief with one just one batter reaching base, via a walk.

“We pitched the ball well today,” Beals said. “McKinney battled. He gave up an unearned in the first and had a tough second inning but after that he settled in and pitched well. Theron and David pitched well and put up zeros. We just couldn’t get ourselves back in it.”

The Buckeyes will have one more opportunity to win the series Sunday. The two teams come back to play at 1:05 p.m.

Game Notes & Random Thoughts from “Three-Hills” Field:

  • Ohio State had eight hits against the Hoosiers for the second consecutive game.
  • First- and second-hole hitters Brian DeLucia and Tim Wetzel each had two hits Saturday. DeLucia also had an RBI.
  • Matt Streng had a copule of hits, a run scored and an RBI.
  • Ohio State assistant coach Chris Holick played two seasons at Indiana under Bob Morgan. He made 60 career starts, including 53 in 1997 when he hit .301 and scored 30 runs for a Big Ten tournament championship team and NCAA regional participant. He was named academic all-Big Ten that season as well.
  • Some key findings from numbers released by the NCAA yesterday comparing midseason statistics this year to last year: home runs are down 50 percent (.85 per game in 2010 to .47 in 2011); runs per game are down roughly 20 percent (6.98 to 5.63); and earned run average has been lowered from 5.83 runs per game to 4.62.
  • Through 23 games last year Ohio State batters had 16 home runs and 67 extra base hits. Using the new BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) standardized bats, the Buckeyes have seven home runs and 52 extra base hits so far.
  • And one more slam stat: last year Big Ten teams combined to hit 451 home runs. So far they have combined for just 81.
  • What to do during a rain delay: listen to outtakes of Ron Burgundy. You know, “The Anchorman.” “Hey everyone, come and see how good I look!” It’s funny…during a rain delay…in Bloomington.
  • Getting back to the subject of good granola, first brought up when the team was in Bakersfield, Calif: had a fine, fine bowl of granola that was made so fine by giant wedges of juicy strawberries. The hotel had serving-size bowls full of sliced of strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe and honey dew.
  • Going to affectionately rename Sembower Field “Three-Hills” Field because the field is on the top of a hill, the infield is raised up on a hill as compared to the outfield, and the pitcher’s mound is essentially a hill. Three-Hills Field.
  • Ohio State will start freshman Greg Greve in Game 3 Sunday.