May 25, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Ohio State scored four runs in the top of the 13th inning, including a three-run home run by Paul Farinacci, to down Michigan 7-3 to win its opening game of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday at Illinois Field.
With the score knotted 3-3 after each team scored a run in the 12th inning, Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy) gave the Buckeyes the lead on an RBI double over the head of Michigan third baseman A.J. Scheidt that sailed down the left field line. Steve Caravati (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) led off the inning with a base hit up the middle. He came out of the game in favor of the quicker legs of Jacob Howell (So., Ashland, Ohio/Ashland), who went to third on a single through the right side by Ronnie Bourquin (So., Canton, Ohio/Canton South). Zoeller then scored Howell to take a 4-3 lead.
Wes Schirtzinger (So., Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) was intentionally walked to load the bases for Jedidiah Stephen (Jr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah), who reached on a fielder’s choice, though his grounder to third led to the first two outs of the inning. Farinacci, a senior from Westlake Village, Calif. (Agoura) launched his second home run of the year to left to add three more runs and build the lead to 7-3.
Michigan (40-16) had two hits in the bottom of the inning, but Rory Meister (Fr., Mansfield, Ohio/Mansfield Madison) struck out the side to strand runners at the corners and earn his fifth straight win since May 15. Meister pitched 5.2 innings to get the win. He allowed two runs on five hits and walked four to go with his three 13th-inning strikeouts. The runs were his first allowed against a Big Ten opponent since the game at Michigan on April 22 in Ann Arbor. The only run he had given up since that game came against Cleveland State on May 4 at Bill Davis Stadium in a 12-4 win.
The first of those two runs Wednesday enabled the Wolverines to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. His first walk of the day came with one out to Brad Roblin, who went on to steal second before Scheidt singled up the middle to tie the game.
The Buckeyes took the lead in the top of the 12th on an RBI single up the middle by Matt Angle (Fr., Whitehall, Ohio/Whitehall-Yearling), who scored Schirtzinger, who led off the inning with a single up the middle. Michigan responded in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double by Chris Getz, who doubled to left-center field to bring in Doug Pickens, who reached on a one-out double. Getz was able to get to third on a fielding bobble by centerfielder Mike Rabin (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East), a first-team All-Big Ten selection. So with a runner at third, Meister intentionally walked his next two batters to load the bases and then got Matt Butler to ground into a 3-2-3 double play that seemed to give the Buckeyes momentum heading into their last at-bat.
The win was the fifth consecutive win in its last at bat for Ohio State and the fifth win for Meister since May 15, only 11 days ago. Meister is now 8-0 on the year with four saves.
Schirtzinger led the Buckeyes in going 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Bourquin, Zoeller and Farinacci each had two of the Buckeyes 12 hits. Bourquin was 2-for-5, Zoeller was 2-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored, while Farinacci was 2-for-3 with three RBI and one run scored. Michigan out-hit Ohio State by one and each team had one error.
Ohio State (36-17) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning capitalizing on an error on Wolverine shortstop Leif Mahler. Zoeller singled to right with one out and then went to second on a nubber down the third-base line. Both runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball on Wolverine catcher Jeff Kunkel. Mahler could not come up with the ball on a grounder by Farinacci and both runners scored as the ball went into shallow center field.
Roblin pulled the Wolverines within a one-run in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI-double to the gap in right-center field that scored Kunkel to make it a 2-1 game. Kunkel reached on a two-out single to left.
Caravati doubled in the third, but Michigan starter Jim Brauer retired the next 12 batters before Schirtzinger finally broke the string in the seventh with a single up the middle. Michigan’s defense turned a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. Farinacci led off the eighth with a single to right and was bunted to second by Eric Fryer (Fr., Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) and to third by Angle. He was stranded there though on a ground out by Rabin.
Buckeye starter Dan DeLucia (So., Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson) pitched well by comparison, limiting Michigan to one run in each of the first three innings before Michigan got back-to-back hits in the fourth to get on the score board. DeLucia came back to retire the side in the fifth and the first two batters of the sixth before giving up a base hit. He got a pop up to escape the inning.
It then became a game of small ball. Roblin led off with a single to right-center field and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by A.J. Scheidt, but DeLucia got a line out and a ground out to again get out of the inning unscathed. But in the bottom of the eighth, Chris Getz singled to left to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Eric Rose that put Getz at second, Buckeye skipper Bob Todd went to the bullpen to bring in the hottest pitcher in the Big Ten in Meister. DeLucia allowed one run on eight hits in 7.1 innings and left with a walk and four strikeouts and did not weigh into the decision.
Meister, who won all four games last week – a non-conference game against Miami (Ohio) and all three wins over Minnesota last weekend at Bill Davis Stadium – came on and got a fly out and a ground out to strand Getz in scoring position in the eighth. Meister threw 92 pitches compared to 89 by DeLucia.
At 13 innings, the game was the longest game played in the history of the 25th year of the Big Ten tournament, topping three 12-inning games, including a 4-3 Michigan win over Ohio State in 1994. The win in the last at bat was Ohio State’s seventh this season fifth straight.
Brauer pitched 10 innings and did not factor into the decision. He limited the Buckeyes to two unearned runs on five hits and struck out six against two walks, both in the ninth inning. He gave way to Derek Feldkamp to start the 11th. Feldkamp pitched three innings and allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks with no strikeouts. He fell to 9-4 on the year.
The Buckeyes now move on to play No. 2 seed Purdue or No. 1 seed and tournament host Illinois. If Iowa beats Minnesota later today, Ohio State will play Illinois Thursday at 8:05 p.m., EDT, but if the Golden Gophers win, Ohio State will play Purdue at 4:35 p.m. All postseason games will be broadcast by NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) and on the Internet at www.wosu.org.