April 2, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois handed Ohio State its third-straight defeat to open Big Ten play with a 5-4 victory over the Buckeyes in game two of a doubleheader Saturday at Illinois Field. The loss dropped the Buckeyes to 13-7 on the year and 0-3 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1988, Bob Todd’s first season as coach at Ohio State.
Paul Farinacci (Sr. Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura) made amends for leaving the bases loaded two innings earlier, when he came to bat in the top of the sixth inning in the same situation. Farinacci cleared the bases with a grand slam off the top of the fence in right field to pull the Buckeyes within one run. It was the first grand slam for an Ohio State player since last season at Minnesota when Adam Schneider (So., Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) scored four in the sixth inning in a 10-6 Ohio State victory at Siebert Field.
Mike Rabin (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) struck out to end the sixth, giving the Buckeyes just three outs to try and tie or win the game. After a fly out to start the seventh inning, Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy) singled past the Illini second baseman to try and get things started. Zoeller was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Steve Caravati (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) for the second out and then Ronnie Bourquin (So., Canton, Ohio/Canton South) lined a ball off the glove of first baseman Dusty Bensko, who stayed with the ball and threw to Kyes, who nabbed a sliding Bourquin to end the game.
The last 0-3 start for Ohio State was in 1988 when the Illini handed the Buckeyes three straight losses to begin Big Ten play. The Scarlet and Gray rebounded to win game four 14-6 after dropping the first three games by scores of 7-5, 7-4 and 15-4. Illinois has never won all four games in a conference series against Ohio State.
Illinois again jumped on the Buckeyes in the first inning, scoring a pair of runs on three hits. J.R. Kyes led off with a single to left and was knocked in on a double by Drew Davidson. Davidson advanced on a throw trying to nab Kyes at the plate and then beat out a throw home from Bourquin, the Buckeye third baseman, who threw just short and wide of the plate, allowing the Illini to take a 2-0 lead. Illinois has scored in the first inning in all three games against Ohio State.
Kyes did in the Buckeyes in the bottom of the fourth, teeing off on Buckeye starter Cory Luebke (Fr., Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local) to clear the fence in right field. On a normal day, the ball would have been a routine fly ball, but on a day with wind blowing out to right at an estimated 30 miles per hour, it was a no-doubter. Kyes first home run of the season scored three to extend the Illini lead to 5-0.
The Buckeyes had their chances in the game. Zoeller delivered a one-out triple in the first inning, but was stranded with consecutive ground outs. The next hit came in the third inning on a one-out single to right by Rabin, but he was nabbed at second on a fielder’s choice by Wes Schirtzinger (So., Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North). Another ground out ended the inning.
The best chance came the next inning when Jedidiah Stephen (Jr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) got a mini rally started with a two-out infield single. Jacob Howell (So., Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) followed with a single through the right side and Eric Fryer (Fr., Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) loaded the bases with the second infield hit of the inning. But the bases were left full when Farinacci ended the inning when he grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Zoeller and Howell each had two hits as the Buckeyes out-hit Illinois 9-8. Ohio State left on six batters in the game, including three runners in scoring position and two that reached third base. Kyes went 3-for-4 in game two to go with two hits in game one. Chad Frk also had multiple hits, going 2-for-3.
Luebke was dealt his first loss of the season against two wins. Only the first two of the five Illini runs were earned. He allowed eight hits, while striking out three against one walk. Matt Whitmore improved to 2-1. He was charged with three of the four Buckeye runs, though it was reliever Jake Toohey, who gave up the grand slam to Farinacci.
The series concludes Sunday with a single game at 2:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NPR 820 (WOSU-AM).