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Feb. 21, 2016

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VERO BEACH, Fla.  – In a day that lasted more than 11 hours, the Ohio State baseball team twice rallied from multi-run deficits to improve to 3-0 at the Inaugural Historic Dodgertown Classic in Vero Beach, Fla.  The Buckeyes claimed a 10-7 walk-off win vs. Niagara in game one before finishing with an 11-8 victory over Pitt in a 13-inning marathon game two that lasted four hours in 54 minutes at legendary Holman Stadium.

“Today wasn’t clean but it’s a great day with two hard-fought victories,” head coach Greg Beals said.

Redshirt junior Jacob Bosiokovic had a monster day at the plate for the Scarlet and Gray, batting .400 with four runs scored, two home runs, including a walk-off three-run shot in game one, and six RBI with a walk and hit by pitch. In all, the Buckeye lineup registered 20 hits, while the OSU pitching staff notched 30 strikeouts vs. opponent hitters.

Ohio State concludes action from Dodgertown at 2:30 p.m. Sunday vs. in-state opponent Toledo. The Buckeyes took down the Rockets, 7-1, in the 2016 opener on Friday.

Niagara 7, Ohio State 10
Redshirt junior Jacob Bosiokovic launched two home runs, including a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth as the Buckeyes rallied to defeat Niagara, 10-7, in a wild game one of a doubleheader Saturday at Holman Stadium. Bosiokovic, a native of Delaware, Ohio, tied the contest at 7-all in the seventh  with a two-run shot that towered over the “Historic Dodgertown” scoreboard in left center before sending a three-run walk-off homer off thetop of the left field foul pole in the bottom of the ninth. It marked his third long ball in two games to start the year. 

Bosiokovic went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and five RBI to lead the charge, while senior L Grant Davis was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI. Co-captains Nick Sergakis and Jalen Washington each scored twice and tallied a hit.

Niagara tallied the first run of the afternoon in the top of the first when Greg Rodgers one-hopped the wall in left to plate Greg Cullen from first base. Although redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer allowed a run, he did strike out the side in the opening frame.

The Eagles’ lead wouldn’t last long. Niagara starting pitcher Daniel Procopio had issues with his control in the bottom of the second, walking the lead-off batter andthen hitting three straight OSU hitters to tie the contest at 1-all. Davis then knocked a two-run single to right center to plate Washington and senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff.

Niemeyer fanned two Niagara hitters in the third before Ohio State extended its lead to 4-1 thanks to heads-up baserunning and timely hitting. Sergakis legged out a double to left and advanced to third on a passed ball. Washington then did his job at the plate as the fellow co-captain punched a long fly ball to straight center to push the score to a three-run advantage.

However, Niagara capitalized on several Ohio State defensive errors, crossing the plate four times in the top of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead.  Following a RBI single, Niemeyer’s day ended as he was relieved by right-handed sophomore Seth Kinker . A double and throwing error made it 4-3 contest before a passed ball tied it at 4-all. Niagara gained its second lead of the day when a hard-hit ball up the middle was fielded, but the flip was wild allowing a fourth Purple Eagle run to score.

Niagara continued its momentum in the sixth with two runs on two hits for the 7-4 advantage. The Scarlet and Gray cut their deficit to a pair of runs when Jordan McDonough knocked a sac fly to left field. Both Washington and Ratcliff singled in the inning.

After a 1-2-3 top of the sixth, Davis started a rally when he sent a one-out single to right to set up Bosiokovic for his first home run of the game. The native of Delaware, Ohio, blasted a 1-1 pitch deep over the Vero Beach palm trees against reliever Austin Miller to even the tides, 7-7.  

In the eighth, Kinker got a big called strike three on the outside corner to leave runners on the corners. He tossed 3.2 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, two earned, two walks with four strikeouts.

Redshirt sophomore Yianni Pavlopoulos also made his 2016 debut and his first appearance since 2014. The native of Homer Glenn, Ill., allowed two hits but pitched a scoreless ninth to close the door on the Purple Eagles. It was a moment for No. 28 that he won’t forget as he earned the win in the contest after missing the 2015 campaign due to injury.

In the bottom half, senior shortstop Craig Nennig walked and advanced to second on a throwing error before Troy Montgomery was intentionally walked to set up the clutch dinger by Bosiokovic.

Niemeyer received a no decision in the contest and threw 4.1 innings on six hits, three runs, three earned, two walks and six strikeouts.

Ohio State 11, Pitt 8 (13)
It’s tough to play two games in one day anytime, but to play almost a five-hour contest in game two? That’s tough. But the Buckeyes are tough

Down 6-5 in the ninth, the Scarlet and Gray answered the bell with three runs to take an 8-6 lead on the Panthers. But Pitt rebounded with two runs in the bottom half to force extra innings. The score remained tied for four additional stanzas until the Scarlet and Gray drove three runs across the board to win, 13-8, just before the stroke of midnight.  A combined 11 pitchers were used and 24 position players. A total of 530 pitches were seen to Pitt and Buckeye fans on hand.

In the top of the ninth, Davis doubled to left field to start the OSU momentum. Montgomery, who homered earlier, connected for a RBI single to tie it at 6-all. A single by Dawson and sac fly by Sergakis added two runs on the board for an 8-6 advantage. But the Panthers wouldn’t go away quietly. A two-run bottom of the ninth forced more baseball following a two-run triple by Ron Sherman. No runs would score until the 13th when Montgomery had another clutch single to score Nennig for the 9-8 lead. A RBI single by Bosiokovic and RBI ground out by Dawson added insurance and secured the team’s third win of the year.

Senior starter John Havird gave up five runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work, but was efficient on the mound for the Buckeyes. He finished with six strikeouts and kept the Buckeye offense within striking distance.

Things weren’t easy early on for the OSU hitters vs. Pitt starter Aaron Sanderfur. He sent down the first nine OSU hitters he faced, but that changed in the second round of chances for the OSU batters.

Down a run, the squad would score a run in the fourth and three in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Sergakis doubled won the right field line to score Bosiokovic in fourth inning vs. Sanderfur.  Two stanzas later, he would be relieved by right-hander Josh Falk who loaded the bases and was taken out of the game. Senior Ryan Leffel pinch hit against lefty reliever Josh Mitchell and earned a four-pitch walk to tie it, 2-2.  Dawson touched the dish on a passed ball, while Nennig hit a single back to the mound for the 4-2 advantage.

But the Panthers clawed right back with four runs on four hits in the bottom half. Havird allowed a one-out RBI single and was replaced by left-hander redshirt junior Joe Stoll. A single through the right side tied it at 4-all before a two-run single plated two more runs to give Pitt its third lead of the evening.

Montgomery cut the lead to 6-5 with his second home run of the weekend on a lead-off, moon-shot over the wall in right. Bosiokovic then reached second base, but Ohio State could not push him around to tie it up.

In the eighth, Stoll settled down and fanned the first two batters he faced, but was relieved by redshirt sophomore right-hander Kyle Michalik with two runners on. The Brunswick, Ohio, native, Michalik got the third out of the inning on a fly ball. Senior left-hander Michael Horejsei was the Buckeyes’ fourth pitcher of game two. He didn’t mess around and struck out the side to start his senior season. Pavlopoulos followed for his second appearance on the day and didn’t  disappoint, allowing no runs on two hits with three strikeouts.

The Buckeyes did get the clutch hits in the end, that’s for sure. But to top it off, a freshman pitcher got the final mark for the victory. Connor Curlis, from Findlay, Ohio, came into the game in the 11th inning and threw two scoreless frames with four strikeouts. He struck out the final batter of the long, cold Florida night with a rising fastball.

All in all, it was hard-fought day. The Buckeyes are 3-0.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes conclude action at the Historic Dodgertown Classic at 2:30 p.m. ET vs. Toledo Sunday at Holman Stadium.