April 8, 2017
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite home runs by Lilli Piper, Becca Gavin and Taylor White, No. 21 Ohio State dropped both games of a doubleheader to 16th-ranked Michigan on Saturday. The Wolverines took game one, 7-2, and then came from behind to top the Buckeyes 8-4 in the second contest. Ohio State is 22-9 on the season and 6-2 in the Big Ten while Michigan is 28-7-1, 8-0.
THE SHORT STORY
To start the day, the largest single-game crowd in Buckeye Field history (1,764) saw Piper belt her 10th home run of the season in the bottom of the first that ended Michigan’s 45-inning scoreless streak. The Wolverines, however, scored four in the top of the first and one more in the top of the second in a 7-2 Buckeye setback. In the second game, Ohio State twice took the lead but a three-run double in the top of the sixth was the decisive blow in an 8-4 loss.
GAME ONE: Michigan 7, Ohio State 2
The first two Wolverine batters of the game against starting pitcher Lena Springer both singled, and after retiring Amanda Vargas on a strikeout, Springer gave up a single to Aidan Falk to load the bases. Springer struck out Tara Blanco to record the second out, but a two-strike, two-out single by Abby Ramirez scored two runs and then Kelly Christner triple off the wall in right centerfield plated two more runs for a 4-0 Michigan lead.
After UM pitcher Megan Betsa retired the first two Buckeyes of the inning, Piper continued her hot hitting at the plate with a towering home run over the left center field fence. It was the first run given up by Betsa and the Wolverines since March 22. For Piper, it also made her the first member of this year’s 30-30 club (30 RBI/30 runs scored).
Michigan pushed across a run in the top of the second on another two-out hit, this one coming from Falk, who singled and scored Lindsey Montemarano, who led off the inning with a walk.
After a scoreless third and one UM run in the fourth, Ohio State cut the deficit to four in the bottom of the fourth with some heady base running that resulted in Emily Clark scoring on an infield single by Taylor White, aided by an error from UM shortstop Abby Ramirez. Michigan would tack on a run in the top of the sixth via a two-out Christner RBI single.
In a relief effort, Shelby McCombs pitched five innings and allowed two runs while giving up seven hits and striking out a season-high six. Ohio State’s four hits came from four different players – Anna Kirk, Piper, Clark and White.
GAME TWO: Michigan 8, Ohio State 4
After holding Michigan scoreless for the first two innings – highlighted by a strikeout and caught stealing to end the top of the first and bases-loaded strikeout to end the top of the second – Becca Gavin gave the Scarlet and Gray early momentum with a two-run home run to left field that staked Ohio State to a 2-0 lead. It was Gavin’s second home run of the year.
In the top half of the next inning, Michigan took the lead right back with a three-run home run off the bat of Falk, who score Faith Canfield and Kelly Christner. The Buckeyes were able to avoid further damage when Ramirez pop into a 6-3 inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ohio State went ahead for the second time in the game via a home run by White, this one a two-run opposite field shot that scored Clark, who had led off the inning with a walk. Over the last 10 games, White is now hitting .536 with five home runs and 22 RBI. She also upper her conference-leading RBI total to 21 (in just eight games).
Like they did earlier in the game, the Wolverines grabbed the lead back in the top of the fifth. The first run came in via a Blanco RBI single and the go-ahead run crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice and error that resulted in Blanco scoring from third.
The Buckeyes were unable to counter punch in the bottom of the fifth and in the top of the sixth, Blanco doubled and scored three runs to give UM an 8-4 cushion. Ohio State got one base runner in the bottom of the seventh when Kirk worked a two-out walk but that was it.
Like in the first game, four Ohio State hits came from four different players – Bayne, White, Gavin and McCombs. Hursh went six innings and strike out five while Morgan Ray came on in the seventh and didn’t allow a hit.
STREAK AND SNIPITS
• The total two-game attendance on Saturday was 3,143.
• With 1,764 fans in the opening game, Ohio State broke its pervious single-game attendance record of 1,627 set last April against Purdue.
• Piper’s home run in the first game extended her hitting streak to nine straight games. Over the last 10 games, she’s batting .613 (19-for-31) with 19 RBI and 17 runs scored.
• White is on a 10-game hitting streak and has a team-high 22 RBI in that stretch.
• In eight Big Ten games, Piper is hitting at a .600 clip (15-for-25) while White checks in at .565 (13-for-23). The duo has combined for 35 RBI.
Ohio State and Michigan conclude their three-game series tomorrow with a 1 p.m. contest that will be streamed live on BTN Plus. Gates open at noon and another large crowd is expected. Fans are once against encouraged to arrive early to secure their seats at Buckeye Field.