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LAS VEGAS A three-run fifth inning helped the No. 20 Ohio State softball team overcome a 2-0 deficit and the Buckeyes would go on for a 4-2 win over Portland State Saturday night at Eller Media Stadium in the UNLV Invitational. Ohio State improves to 15-4 and will take on tournament host UNLV at 11 a.m. PT Sunday to close out the weekend in Las Vegas. Portland State falls to 13-16.

“We started slow offensively, but we stayed with it and made some adjustments,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “We faced some adversity being down 2-0 late, but we are finding a way to score runs.”

Ohio State sophomore Megan Miller pitched into the sixth inning and earned the win, while junior Kim Reeder threw two innings of no-hit relief for her second save in as many days. At the plate, sophomore Sam Marder went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in and her slide into the catcher in the fifth inning disrupted a potential inning-ending home-to-first double-play and allowed the Buckeyes’ third and game-clinching run to score.

“Brittany Vanderink and Sam Marder have been doing super for us all year in what they provide, with Brittany getting on and stealing bases and Sam driving runners in,” Kalafatis said. “And Liz Caputo stepped up today with a great catch in centerfield and Kim Reeder made a great play defensively right when she came in the game fielding a bunt and throwing her out from her knees. Those were key plays.”

It looked as if the Buckeyes might take a quick lead in the bottom of the first inning when they put runners at second and third. Vanderink led off with a single and stole second and third to move into fourth place on the Ohio State all-time steals list with 57. Freshman Karisa Medrano walked and stole second with two outs to join Vanderink in scoring position, but PSU pitcher Mandy Hill forced a groundout to end the inning.

Portland State capitalized on the Buckeyes’ slow offensive start with two runs in the top of the fourth inning when the Vikings strung together four consecutive hits, including a double.

Ohio State finally got the big inning it needed in the bottom of the fifth on three hits, two walks and two PSU errors. Freshman Dee Dee Hillman led off with a walk and went to second on a groundout by Vanderink. Freshman Brittany Goodchild then grounded back to Hill in the circle and she threw ahead of Hillman going to third, resulting in a run-down. The Vikings botched the play, however, allowing Hillman to get to third and Goodchild to go to second. Marder followed that with an RBI single to center to score Hillman and Medrano followed that with a walk to load the bases. Sophomore Whitney Cooper delivered a single through the left side to score Hillman and keep the bases loaded.

That brought sophomore Tory Haddad to the plate. She grounded to the circle and Hill threw home to get the force out, but Marder slid into PSU catcher Kristin Wilson, causing her throw to first for the attempted double play to go into right field, allowing Medrano to score Ohio State’s third and final run of the inning.

Ohio State added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Caputo reached on a single to the pitcher, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hillman and scored on Marder’s third single of the game.

Ohio State wraps up its stay in Las Vegas at 11 a.m. Sunday when the Buckeyes have a rematch with tournament host UNLV. Ohio State beat the Rebels, 3-1, Friday night.

Postgame Notes No. 20 Ohio State 4, Portland State 2 … March 8, 2008
– Not in the Box Score: First pitch between Ohio State and Portland State Saturday night was at 9:02 p.m. Pacific Time, or 12:02 a.m. Eastern Time, marking the Buckeyes’ latest Eastern Time first pitch since playing in Hawaii in 2003.
– Buckeyes at the plate: Sam Marder went 3-for-4 in the game for her team-leading third three-hit game of the season. She is batting .491 with 30 RBI.
– Senior Brittany Vanderink stole her 10th and 11th bases of the season to up her career total to 57 (in only 60 attempts) and move into fourth place on the Ohio State career stolen bases list. Vanderink, who is 11-for-11 this season and has not been caught in her last 27-straight attempts. She moved past Cheryl Palaroan (1996-99) for fourth place on the list and now eyes No. 3 Jennifer Link (2000-03), who stole 68.
– Vanderink tied her career single-game high with two stolen bases against Portland State. She has stolen two bases in a game six times in her career.
– Buckeyes in the circle: Sophomore Megan Miller struck out a career-high six batters and tied her career-best effort with only one walk. She is now 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA this season.
– Junior Kim Reeder earned her second save of the weekend in the game and is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities in her career.
– Buckeyes in the field: In addition to the defensive plays turned in by Reeder and Liz Caputo (see story), three of the toughest ground balls in the game all came in the first inning and Ohio State recorded three-consecutive outs, with sharp grounders going to Brittany Vanderink at second, Whitney Cooper at shortstop and Rachael Shepherd at third.
– Ohio State has now gone a school-record 55-consecutive games without being shut out. The previous school record was 28-straight games.
– Ohio State is now 61-30 all-time when ranked.
– Weather: Clear and 57 degrees at first pitch. Wind 14 MPH left to right.
– Ohio State now leads the all-time series against Portland State 4-0.

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Contact: Tim Stried, stried.3@osu.edu