March 1, 2014
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The Ohio State baseball team scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to pick up a 5-4, come-from-behind win over Western Kentucky in the Keith LeClair Classic Saturday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 7-2 on the season while the Hilltoppers fall to 6-4.
“That’s a great win today,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “Western Kentucky’s a very good ball club and they’ll win a lot of games this year. It’s a good win for us to get early in the year. We weren’t very good for a long part of that game and then we were really good for a short part and it was just enough to take the lead and give the ball to Dempsey. Post came in and calmed the waters and kept us in the ballgame and Trace came in and did what he does to close it out.”
The Buckeyes took the lead in the bottom of the second off Western Kentucky starter Austin Clay. Craig Nennig reached on an error with one down and a perfectly-executed hit-and-run by Connor Sabanosh put runners at the corners. Tim Wetzel then laid down a safety squeeze and Nennig beat the throw home for a 1-0 Ohio State lead.
Western Kentucky was able to answer back with a run off Ohio State starter Ryan Riga in the top of the third to tie it. Anderson Miller and Ryan Messex led off the inning with singles and were moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Trevor Lowe. Cody Wofford then followed with an RBI groundout to short to score Miller to make it a 1-1 game. Riga then walked Scott Wilcox and hit Ryan Church to load the bases but the junior left-hander struck out Regan Flaherty keep it a tie game.
The Hilltoppers then took the lead in the top of the fourth. Thomas Peter reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and, after a strikeout of Paul Murray, a single by Miller put runners at first and second with one down. Messex then grounded a single through the left side to score Peter for the 2-1 Western Kentucky lead.
Western Kentucky threatened again in the top of the fifth. Wilcox and Church led off the inning with singles before a sacrifice bunt by Flaherty moved the runners to second and third with one out. However, Riga got Peter to foul out before striking out Murray to end the rally and keep it a 2-1 game.
The Hilltoppers pushed the lead to 3-1 in the top of the sixth. Riga walked Miller before Messex singled through the left side and a sacrifice bunt by Lowe moved the runners to second and third with one down. Jake Post then came on in relief of Riga and walked Wofford to load the bases. Post got Wilcox to fly out for the second out of the inning but Church grounded a single through the left side to score Miller before Wetzel threw out Messex at the plate to end the inning.
The Buckeyes threatened in the bottom of the frame but were unable to push anything across. Ronnie Dawson and Zach Ratcliff singled to lead off the inning and were sacrificed to second and third by Nennig. A walk by Sabanosh loaded the bases but Wetzel grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the frame as Western Kentucky held on to the 3-1 lead.
Western Kentucky then tacked on another in the top of the eighth. With one down, Peter grounded a double down the third base line and pinch-hitter Philip Diedrick followed with a double to left to extend the lead to 4-1.
However, Ohio State answered back in a big way off Hilltopper relievers Brandon Allen and Ian Tompkins in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Ratcliff singled to right and Nennig walked before Sabanosh singled through the left side to plate Ratcliff. Wetzel then singled through the right side to score Nennig and Troy Kuhn reached on an infield single to load the bases. After Tompkins came on to relieve Allen, Jacob Bosiokovic followed with a line-drive single to right to score Sabanosh and Wetzel for the 5-4 Ohio State lead.
Trace Dempsey then came on to toss a perfect ninth inning for his fourth save of the season while Post picked up the win to improve to 2-0. Sabanosh finished 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored while Bosiokovic and Ratcliff each tallied a pair of hits.
Ohio State wraps up the weekend against host East Carolina at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
– Kuhn and Porter have reached base safely in each game this season.
– Porter’s seven-game hitting streak was snapped against the Hilltoppers..
– Ratcliff tallied his second-consecutive multi-hit game.