COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State fell behind Michigan, 5-0, early on, battled hard offensively and defensively the rest of the way but could not recover enough of the deficit in losing the third game of the series with Michigan, 6-5, Sunday before a crowd of 1,766 at Ray Fisher Stadium.
The Buckeyes, who won a dramatic 3-2 extra inning affair Saturday to climb back into a tie for first place in the Big Ten Conference, now drop a game behind Michigan in a tight Big Ten race with an 8-7 record. The team is 24-15 overall. Michigan improves to 27-15 and 9-6 in the Big Ten.
For the third consecutive game, the Buckeyes received outstanding work from its corps of relievers. Today, Theron Minium, Jared Strayer and Eric Best combined to pitch 5.0 innings and allow just two hits and one run. The trio struck out four and walked just one.
Offensively, the team was led by Dan Burkhart’s four-hit day, three hits and three RBI from Michael Stephens and three runs scored by Cory Kovanda.
Ohio State starter Brett McKinney (3-4) went 3.0 innings in his first Big Ten start and took the loss. He had his hitless streak of 6.2 innings snapped – going back to his Wednesday start vs. Marshall – in the second inning when Mike Dufek doubled to center in a scoreless game. One batter later the Wolverines had a 2-0 lead as Nick Urban went opposite field for his second home run of the season.
Michigan tacked on three more runs off three hits in the third inning to build a 5-0 lead.
Ohio State scored a run in the fourth as Kovanda opened with a single and moved to third on the first of Burkhart’s two doubles, this one down the right field line. A Ryan Dew ground out brought home Kovanda.
McKinney was pulled in the fourth after giving up two walks to open the inning. Minium came into the game with nobody out and men on first and third. He got a strikeout and then a 1-6-3 double play grounder to end the Michigan threat. He then faced the minimum in the fifth before allowing a solo home run in the sixth, the only blemish on his 3.0 innings of work.
The Buckeyes finally got to Michigan starter Brandon Sinnery (4-0) in the sixth. Burkhart drilled a one-out double and Stephens followed with a single. Another Dew ground out to the right side brought home Burkhart to make the score 5-2.
Ohio State brought the tying run to the plate for a second consecutive inning in the seventh. Now trailing 6-2, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two outs, thanks to three walks by reliever Bobby Brosnahan. Stephens stroked a two-strike single to center to score two and get the Buckeyes to within two at 6-4.
Zach Hurley then opened the ninth with a single. Kovanda reached on a fielder’s choice and Burkhart singled him over to third. Stephens drove Kovanda home again with a single up the middle making the score, 6-5. But with men on second and third, reliever Tyler Burgoon threw a double play ball to end the game.
A Few More Game & Series Notes…