May 7, 2017
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Junior right-handed pitcher Seth Kinker picked up his first collegiate win as a starter, while fifth-year senior Zach Ratcliff hit a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth to help the Ohio State baseball team win, 4-2, at No. 17 Michigan Sunday afternoon at Ray Fisher Stadium at Wilpon Complex. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Adam Niemeyer closed the door on the Wolverines, tossing three scoreless innings of relief work to claim his first career save. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 18-29 overall and 6-12 in Big Ten play. The Maize and Blue fall to 35-11 overall and 11-7 in conference action.
“It’s a great win and I think the storyline is the pitching today,” head coach Greg Beals said. “Seth Kinker made his first career start in a must-win game, if there is such a thing, today was. What a great gutsy performance that he gave and put his team in a situation to win. We had some opportunities early in the game to score some runs, but we weren’t able to do it. Zach Ratcliff with a big hit and that was the difference in today’s ball game. They are going to enjoy this one, tomorrow will be an off day and we will go back to work on Tuesday with Bowling Green in town.”
SMALL BALL GIVES UM THE LEAD
The opening four stanzas went scoreless on a sunny and breezy afternoon in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines plated two runs without hitting a ball out of the infield vs. Kinker in the fifth to take a 2-0 lead. The first two hitters reached after a hit by pitch and bunt single. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners to set up Jimmy Kerr, who hit a chopper to the left side for an infield RBI single. A sacrifice squeeze pushed the second UM run to score. Kinker induced a ground out to end the fifth.
GRAND SLAM FOR THE GRAD
Down 2-0, the Buckeyes took the lead with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth from Ratcliff, who was one of four fifth-year seniors to graduate today. Earning a degree in sport industry, Ratcliff sent a 1-0 pitch deep over the wall in left center off left-handed reliever William Tribucher to give Ohio State the 4-2 advantage. It marked the second grand slam of the season for Ratcliff, who fired up his Buckeye teammates in the dugout with a “let’s go” while rounding first base.
“They brought in a lefty and he missed down and in with a fastball, so I thought he was going to try again and get out of the inning with a groundball,” Ratcliff said. “I guessed right on the next pitch and it went over the wall. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone and pointed to the dugout. It was nice to get the lead and Seth was rolling and we gave the ball to Adam and he finished the game.”
The big hit was set up by a lead-off walk to Tre’ Gantt, infield single by Washington and single to left field by Brady Cherry. Michigan went to its bullpen as starting pitcher Michael Hendrickson was replaced by Tribucher before the blast by the OSU designated hitter. Hendrickson dropped to 5-1 this season.
KINKER GETS OUT OF A JAM IN THE SIXTH
Kinker ran into some trouble to start the next inning as the first two UM batters reached safely. However, the native of Huntington, W. Va., Kinker struck out Drew Lugbauer for the first out and retired the second with a ground out. Ohio State first baseman Bo Coolen then made a diving catch in front of the bag to save at least one run and leave two on base.
FANTASTIC FIRST START
In his 75th career appearance, Kinker made his first career start on the mound for the Scarlet and Gray. The right-hander was locked in from pitch No. 1 to his final pitch at No. 97 in the bottom of the sixth. He scattered four hits on two runs with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings of work to improve to 3-0 on the year.
“Me and Nemo [Niemeyer] were just talking, it was like our roles were reversed,” Kinker said. “He closed the game and I started the game, but it couldn’t have come at a better time against Michigan of course. It was just a great team win. Guys behind me were making plays, hitters were making their adjustments and putting the ball in play. We were just having fun playing the game. That’s what we talked about on the bus before we went into the game. When you have fun playing the game, good things happen.”
FIRST CAREER SAVE FOR NEMO
Niemeyer, from Minster, Ohio, relieved Kinker to start the bottom of the seventh. After a 1-2-3 seventh, Niemeyer got out of a bases-loaded jam when he got Nick Poirer to pop-up to Washington at shortstop. In the ninth, the OSU captain retired the side in order, striking out the final two batters of the game to notch his first collegiate save. Niemeyer worked three scoreless innings on two hits with three strikeouts.
The Ohio State baseball team had four active players and one student manager graduate today: Zach Ratcliff, Jake Post, Joe Stoll, Shea Murray and Caleb Huth. Also graduating today were former Buckeyes John Havird and Daulton Mosbarger.
The Buckeyes return to Bill Davis Stadium for two midweek games in Columbus, hosting Bowling Green Tuesday and Ball State Wednesday. Both games begin at 6:35 p.m. ET and will be streamed on BTN Plus ($).