April 1, 2017
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – 25th-ranked Ohio State flexed its offensive muscle on Saturday, hitting three home runs on its way to a pair of five-inning victories over Rutgers at Buckeye Field. Ohio State won the first game, 8-0, and then took the second, 12-2. Winners of 14 of their last 15 games, the Buckeyes are 21-7 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten.
THE SHORT STORY
In the completion of a game that started last night but suspended after four innings due to rain, Ohio State shut out the Scarlet Knights, 8-0, and got a two-run home run from Taylor White in the first at-bat of the day. After that, Ohio State’s offense broke out for 12 runs on 10 hits in five innings, keyed by a three-run shot in the first inning from White and a second-inning grand slam from Emily Clark.
GAME ONE: Ohio State 8, Rutgers 0 (5 inn.)
During the first four innings that were played on Friday, Ohio State got out of an early jam as Rutgers loaded the bases on a two-out double, walk and hit by pitch. Starting pitcher Shelby Hursh induced a pop out in foul territory to catch Becca Gavin, however, to end the threat. The score remained tied into the third inning when Lilli Piper continued to stay red-hot, sending a solo home run over the right field fence to make the score 1-0. Two batters later, White made it 2-0 on a RBI double to left center and she eventually came on Gavin’s RBI single to left.
In the fourth inning, two critical throwing errors by Rutgers allowed a pair of Buckeye runs to cross the plate. With Piper on first and Anna Kirk at third, a double steal resulted in Kirk scoring and the errors allowed Piper to also come around and score, giving the Scarlet and Gray a 5-0 lead. At that point, rain forced the suspension of the contest until Saturday at 2 p.m.
When play resumed today, White hit the second pitch of the afternoon opposite field for a two-run shot, making the score 7-0. With a run-rule in sight, Maddie Marotti led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and was pinch run for by Andi Farrah, who advanced to second on a Bri Betschel single and then scored when Kirk lofted a single between the third baseman and left fielder for the final run.
STARS OF THE GAME
Piper: 2-3, HR, 1 RBI
White: 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Hursh: 5.0 IP, 3 hits allowed, 4 Ks
The top three hitters in Ohio State’s lineup – Kirk, Bayne, Piper and Clark – combined to go 6-for-10 with a pair of RBI and three runs scored. As a team, all nine members of the starting lineup recorded at least one hit and five had multiple hits.
GAME TWO: Ohio State 12, Rutgers 2 (5 inn.)
Rutgers struck for two runs quickly off starter Lena Springer in the top of the first. It started with a walk to lead-off hitter Tara Altee and two batters later Nicole Bowman singled to right field, putting two runners on with just one out. Rebecca Hall doubled off the center field wall, scoring Altee, and Bowman scored during the next at bat when Carly Todd grounded into a fielder’s choice. Ohio State was able to avoid further damage, however, by getting an out at home on a fielder’s choice and fly out to right field.
The Scarlet Knights’ lead was short lived, as a two-out rally in the bottom of the first was highlighted by White’s second home run of the afternoon. This one was a three-run shot to left center, scoring Piper and Clark, who had extended the inning with a single and walk, respectively.
After a heads-up defensive play in the top of the second resulted in White throwing out Bowman out trying to stretch a single into a double, Ohio State put a five-spot up in the bottom of the inning to extended its lead to 8-2. Just like in the first inning, it all came with two outs, starting with a Betschel single, followed by a Kirk walk, Bayne single (scoring Betschel) and aided by an inning-extending error at third base. Clark made RU pay for the miscue, hitting a grand slam to the opposite field as part of her career-high five RBI game.
Rutgers’ Hall led off the top of the third with a single but was eventually stranded at third, setting the stage for a four-run bottom of the frame for the Scarlet and Gray that started out with a Gavin double to left center. Bayne drove in a run when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and a two-run single by Piper made the score 11-2. The final run came of Clark’s RBI single to left, which scored Bayne.
In the circle, Springer worked a perfect 1-2-3 fourth inning and allowed just a one-out single in the fifth to finish off her eighth win of the year. She lowered her ERA on the season to 2.08.
STARS OF THE GAME
Clark: 2-2, HR, 5 RBI
White: 2-3, HR, 3 RBI
Piper: 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored
Betschel: 2-2, 2B, 1 run scored
STREAKS AND SNIPITS
With two home runs on the day, White now is second on the team with seven and has four in the last five games.
In nine career games against Rutgers, White is hitting .434 (10-for-23) with three home runs and 10 RBI.
Not to be outdone, Clark has played in seven career games against Rutgers and is 9-for-16 (.563) with four home runs and 12 RBI.
Ohio State currently leads the Big Ten with 35 home runs (1.25 per game) and seven of their last 10 have come with runners on base (including two grand slams).
Piper’s .706 average in five Big Ten games thus far in tops in the conference, over 100 points better than the second-best hitter.
Over the last six games, Ohio State’s offense is averaging 12.0 runs and 12.3 hits/game. In four of those contests, they’ve scored 10 or more runs.
With another hit today, Marotti improved her average of the last 10 games to .500 (6-for-12) with three runs scored.
Piper and Clark are the first two Buckeyes to surpass the 30-RBI mark this year. Additionally, Clark has 10 RBI in her last three games and is now batting .319.
Ohio State and Rutgers complete their three-game series tomorrow with a 1 p.m. contest at Buckeye Field. The game can be seen live on BTN Plus (subscription required) and a link to live stats can be found on the schedule tab of OhioStateBuckeyes.com