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May 13, 2017

Final Stats

Touch ’em all, @clarkemily448!! OSU 4, MSU 0. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/Xx7cVqIcQZ

— Ohio State Softball (@OhioState_SB) May 13, 2017

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A stirring 4-3 win over Michigan State sent the Ohio State softball team (35-16) to the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, where it eventually fell to top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Minnesota, 6-0. The day was highlighted by two-run home runs from Lilli Piper and Emily Clark as well as several key defensive gems in the field, most notably by Clark at second base.

THE SHORT STORY
Ohio State held a potent Michigan State offense in check for six innings and received two-run home runs by Clark and Piper to build a 4-0 lead. In the sixth, Michigan State scored three times but left the go-ahead runs on base before Shelby McCombs worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.

In the title game, the Buckeyes matched All-American pitcher Sara Groenwagen pitch for pitch over the course of four innings before the Gophers scored three times in the fifth and three more in the seventh.

ALL-TOURNAMENT BUCKEYES
Three Buckeyes — Piper, Clark and pitcher Shelby Hursh — were named to the All-Tournament team. Piper hit .500 on the weekend with a hit in all three games, including a three-for-four performance against the Spartans that included a home run and two singles. Clark hit .333 with a home run, two RBI and 1.000 fielding percentage at second base (six putouts, nine assists) while Hursh finished with a 2.71 ERA over 10.1 innings and 12 strikeouts.

HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED VS. MSU
• Ohio State wasted little time jumping on the seventh-seeded Spartans, who had upset Michigan yesterday, 5-4. Three batters in to the game, Piper cranked her 17th home run deep over the left center field fence, scoring Kirk, who had been hit by a pitch, to make the score 2-0.
• After making several highlight-reel worthy plays in the field, Clark impacted the game with her bat in the top of the sixth inning. After Piper collected her third hit of the game — a single to center — Clark hit a no-doubter over the left field fence to double Ohio State’s lead to 4-0.
• Michigan State made a final push in the bottom of the sixth by plating three runs on three hits while also being aided by one error. The runs came home on a Lea Forester double, Kaitlyn Eveland single and Ebony Echols single, but the tying and go-ahead runs were left on base when Lindsey Besson grounded out to Clark at second base.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• McCombs, who came in to relieve Morgan Ray in the sixth inning, worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the seventh. She got a pop out to third base on the third pitch of the inning for the first out, a ground out to second for out number two and a pop out to Becca Gavin behind the plate to seal the victory.
• The Spartans left 14 batters on base in the game, thanks in large part to Clark, who ended the bottom of the fourth by saving multiple runs by diving for a ground ball and tagging second base for the final out of the inning. In the fifth, Michigan State loaded the bases but a fielder’s choice at home and 3-4 putout kept the Spartans off the scoreboard.
• In the third inning, a walk and single down the left field line had Michigan State threating to cut in to Ohio State’s 2-0 lead. Ray then came on to relieve Hursh, and she promptly recorded three fielders choices, the final two with Clark making unassisted outs.

HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED VS. MINNESOTA
• The Gophers’ Sydney Dwyer broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning with a two-run home run to left center and Minnesota tacked on another run with a bases-loaded walk to make the score 3-0.
• In the seventh, Sam Macken doubled down the left field line, scoring two to extend the lead to 5-0. McKenna Partain added another run with an infield single to second base, scoring Kendyl Lindaman.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• McCombs got the start in the circle and kept Minnesota off the scoreboard for four innings thanks in large part to the defense behind her, which included a strikeout/throw out double play in the third inning. In all, the Minnesota offense — the top scoring offense in the Big Ten — was held to just six hits.
• A junior from Newark, Ohio, McCombs struck out three over 4.2 innings and held the Gophers to just two hits over the first four innings.
• Ohio State’s two hits came off the bat of Clark and Piper. Clark singled to center to start the bottom of the fifth and Piper added an infield single in the seventh.

WHAT’S NEXT
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show occurs tomorrow, Sunday, at 10 p.m. ET as the Buckeyes are seeing their second at-large bid in as many years.

Emily Clark had the big blast for @OhioState_SB.

To celebrate, she caught up with BTN. https://t.co/GsuOhbl0HG

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) May 13, 2017

Emily Clark showed off her @javy23baez-like tagging skills on this @OhioState_SB double play. https://t.co/rrmdcSR1vl

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) May 13, 2017

If you ain’t getting dirty, you ain’t trying.

✋, @OhioState_SB‘s Emily Clark.#BTNStandout x @AutoOwnersIns https://t.co/MyaD08opNw

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 13, 2017