May 17, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Weather conditions delayed the Big Ten Tournament contest between No. 1-seed Ohio State and No. 6-seed Michigan more than 17 hours, pushing back the start time from 7 p.m. Wednesday night to 12:05 p.m. Thursday. Once the game was underway, the Buckeyes didn’t delay in taking an early lead over the Wolverines, scoring three runs in the first inning in the familiar confines of Bill Davis Stadium. As an overcast sky set in as the game went on, Michigan, like the stadium lights, came on, rallying back to tie the game, 4-4. While the rain held off until after the final out, OSU stormed back to score three runs in the seventh inning en route to an 8-4 win.
OSU (42-14) advances in the winners’ bracket and will face Penn State at 12:05 p.m. Friday. Michigan (26-27) plays Purdue at 7:05 p.m. tonight in an elimination game. Purdue lost to Illinois, 9-5, earlier today.
E.J. Laratta picked up the win for the Buckeyes to improve his record to 9-3. In 8.1 innings of work, Laratta allowed 12 hits and four earned runs while striking out four. Bobby Korecky (6-4) took the loss for the Wolverines. He went the distance, allowing 13 hits and five earned runs in the complete-game effort.
Batters one through four in the OSU lineup went a collective 8-for-13 and accounted for seven of the eight Buckeye runs.
First baseman Doug Dendinger doubled to the wall in left-center field with one out in the first inning to score Mike Check from first. Check had reached on an error by Michigan shortstop Bill LaRosa. Nick Swisher drew a walk and Doug Deeds reached on a fielding error by first baseman Jeff Trazos to load the bases. John Mayor collected the first of two hits, poking a line drive to center field to score Dendinger. Christian Snavely followed with an RBI walk, allowing Swisher to trot home from third base and put OSU up 3-0.
The Buckeyes added a run in the third inning. Dendinger led off the inning with his second hit of the afternoon, a rope to right field. Two batters later, Deeds smacked a line drive to left field to put runners on the corners with two outs. Third baseman John Mayor followed with a ground ball just inside third base to score Dendinger.
After narrowing the Buckeye lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning, Michigan knotted the score with three runs in the fifth.
LaRosa led off the fifth with an infield single, beating out a throw from Mclvain on a chopper that bounced over Laratta. Designated hitter Mike Sokol doubled to the right center gap, allowing LaRosa to come home from first. Third baseman Brock Koman then drove an 0-1 pitch from Laratta over the wall in left field to tie the score.
OSU charged ahead for good with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh. Three consecutive hits to lead off the inning resulted in two runs. Check started the inning with a double down the left field line. A single to center field by Dendinger moved Check to third. Dendinger advanced to second base on the throw home. Swisher ripped a line drive-double down the right field line to score both Check and Dendinger. Steve Caravati, replacing Snavely at the seven-spot in the lineup, came up big with a two-out single to left field to score Swisher from second base and give OSU a 7-4 lead.
OSU tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Mcllvain opened the inning with a double down the left field line and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Check.
After Laratta gave up two hits in the top of the ninth, Brandon Steen was called on to retire the final two batters. He earned his fifth save of the season.
Michigan head coach Geoff Zahn
“I think it was typical of an OSU-Michigan matchup. (E.J.) Laratta pitched against us the same way he always does. He was around the plate. OSU played a solid game and got big hits at key times. We made errors at inopportune times.”
“In the first game, they got a lot of hits, but I made key pitches when I needed to. Today, I didn’t. That was the difference.”
Ohio State head coach Bob Todd
“Coming into the game, I was a little apprehensive. It’s tough to beat a team like Michigan four times in a year, especially with (Bobby) Korecky on the mound. Today’s game pinpoints the series. It was two solid pitchers on the mound and it was a close game most of the way.”
On beating Michigan for the first time
“I really had it in the back of my mind coming into the game. I tried to push it out of the way and throw my game. I could have been more consistent, but I battled. Offensively, we came up with some big hits.”