May 19, 2017

Buckeyes Fall in NCAA Tournament Opener to USC Upstate, 7-3

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May 19, 2017

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Despite a three-run rally in the sixth inning that was punctuated by home runs off the bats of Lilli Piper and Emily Clark, Ohio State dropped a hard-fought 7-3 decision to USC Upstate in the opening game of the Knoxville Regional on Saturday afternoon at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

THE SHORT STORY
Trailing 2-0 headed in to the sixth inning, the Buckeyes strung together a rally by getting a game-tying two-run home run from Piper and then a go-ahead solo blast by Clark. The Spartans, however, scored five times on five hits in the top of the seventh and then held Ohio State off the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning.

HOW IT SETS UP TOMORROW
Ohio State faces an elimination game tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. against the loser of the Longwood/Tennessee contest. If the Buckeyes win, they’ll face another elimination game at 5:30 with hopes of staying alive to play against on Sunday.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• The game started off with a web gem by Alex Bayne is right field as she robbed Megan Obier of a sure double with a diving catch for the second out of the inning. The next batter walked but Hursh retired Abbie Millete for the final out on the half inning.
• Upstate was able to get two runners on with two outs in the top of the third, but Hursh kept the Spartans off the scoreboard by inducing a fielder’s choice groundout by Millete.
• Hursh and her defense navigated through another jam in the top of the fourth. With one out, Beasley walked and eventually advanced to second on a two-out single from Kayla Hussey. The next batter, pinch hitter Alicia Dorgan, pop up to Kirk on a 1-1 pitch that stranded both runners on the basepaths.
• The first Ohio State hit of the afternoon came in the bottom of the fourth as Anna Kirk singled sharply to center field on the third pitch of the inning. Bayne then sacrificed her to second, but Piper grounded out to third and Clark flew out to left to end the threat.
Taylor White got the Buckeyes going in the bottom of the fifth with a lead off single to center. She tagged up to second of a deep fly out by Ashley Goodwin but couldn’t move any further as McKinnon struck out Becca Gavin and got pinch hitter Alex Vargas to fly out to left center.

HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED
• Karla Beasley started an Upstate rally in the top of the second by working a one-out walk. She moved to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on an infield single and eventually came home to score on a wild pitch. The half inning ended on the play, however, when pinch runner Tarynn Tirpak was thrown out at second base.
• Another two-out run – this one coming in the top of the fifth – increased Upstate’s lead to 2-0. The Spartans worked three straight walks to load the bases and then got a fourth off of relief pitcher Morgan Ray to bring home Megan Obier. Ray avoided further damage by getting Kori Wancheck to ground in to a fielder’s choice at shortstop.
• The Buckeyes’ big sixth inning started when Bri Betschel legged out an infield single, putting the lead runner on base for the second consecutive inning. She advanced to second on a ground out by Kirk and following a strikeout, Piper connected on her 18th home run of the year – a two-run, game-tying blast that hit the scoreboard in left center – to knot the score at 2-2. Three pitches later, Clark homered to straight away center, her 10th of the year, and Ohio State had its first lead, 3-2.
• The five-run inning for Upstate started with a single to shortstop by Brittany Case, who eventually tied the game when she came around to score on an error. The Spartans went ahead for good on a bloop single between second base and right field and scored three more times on a passed ball, suicide squeeze and infield single.

STREAKS AND SNIPITS
• Piper’s 18 home runs is one shy of tying the single-season record set in 2009 (Sam Marder) and 2016 (Alex Bayne).
• The Buckeyes now have four players with multiple home runs for just the second time in program history.
• With their two-out success in the sixth inning, Ohio State is now batting .334 on the season with two outs and has driven in 133 runs.

QUOTABLE
Anna Kirk on mindset going in to tomorrow
“I think we need to refocus and stay positive; we’re going to battle through the losers bracket and come up and just play our game, play within ourselves and play together as an infield and outfield, as a pitching staff and it’ll all come together.”

Emily Clark on her sixth-inning home run
“After Lilli’s home run I was just so pumped and I was looking to put the ball in play and it all worked out and luckily it went over the fence. I try to put my team up and it worked.”