April 9, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning and then exploded for six runs in the seventh in a 9-1 victory over Illinois Sunday in front of 2,589 fans at Bill Davis Stadium to clinch the series three games to one. With the win over the conference regular season champion from a season ago, the Buckeyes improved to 19-7 overall and lead the Big Ten with a 6-2 record.
The series win was the sixth straight going back to last season when Ohio State finished the year with victories in the last four conference series. The Buckeyes took three of four last week at Iowa.
The game, the nine-inning nightcap of a doubleheader, remained scoreless through the first four and a half innings as each team’s starter pitched effectively. Illinois had four hits in their first five innings and left three runners on base against OSU starter J.B. Shuck (Fr., Galion, Ohio/Galion). The Buckeyes had four hits in their four innings and stranded three batters off Illinois starting pitcher Jake Stewart.
Ohio State scored three runs in the fifth to break the scoreless tie and take a 3-0 lead. Justin Miller (Fr., Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) led off the inning with a single to right and then went to second when Illini centerfielder Joe Bonadonna did not field the ball cleanly. Wes Schirtzinger (Jr., Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) bunted him to third and then on a single to right by Jonathan Zizzo (So., Youngstown, Ohio/Sarasota [Fla.]), he scored to put the Buckeyes on the score board.
Matt Angle (So., Whitehall, Ohio/Whitehall-Yearling) drew a walk to put two on for Eric Fryer (So., Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg), who doubled to right-center field to score both runners and give his team a three-run advantage.
Six more Ohio State runs scored in the seventh inning as the Buckeye blew open what had been a close game. Jason Zoeller (Jr., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy) led off the inning and then Zizzo and Angle followed with singles to load the bases before Fryer delivered the first run on a second straight infield single. Ronnie Bourquin (Jr., Canton, Ohio/Canton South) followed with a two-run single to center, sending Fryer to second.
Jedidiah Stephen (Sr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) bunted both runners into scoring position and the runners stayed put on a ground out by Cody Caughenbaugh (Sr., Newark, Ohio/Licking Valley). Two more runs crossed the plate on a fielding error on Illinois third baseman Mike Rohde.
Illinois avoided a shutout turning a lead-off walk in the top of the eighth into a run on a one-out fielder’s choice off the bat of Dave Schultz.
Shuck pitched the third complete game by a Buckeye in the series, going the distance. He improved to 5-0 in allowing the one run on seven hits. He struck out five and walked one and had his pitch count reach 126. Stewart took the loss for the Illini, lasting 6.0 innings and surrendering six runs on 10 hits.
The Buckeyes finished the game with 13 hits, getting three from Fryer in five at bats. He had three RBI and scored one run. Zizzo, Angle and Bourquin also had two hits. Bourquin added two RBI, while Zizzo scored twice. Ryan Snowden and Chase Kliment each had two hits for the Illini.
For the weekend, the team batted .331 and was led by Angle, who was 7-for-15 (.467). Stephen batted .462 and Bourquin batted .429, while Shuck, who had one start at first and two in left field, batted .400. Eric Fryer batted .389 with six RBI and seven runs scored. Six pitchers combined for a 2.12 ERA and struck out 30 batters in 34.0 innings pitched and limited the Illini to a .203 batting average.
Ohio State will play host to Central Michigan Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. The game will be broadcast on AM 920 WMNI. The first 1,000 fans will receive a pin commemorating the 10th season of Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes will resume Big Ten play next weekend at Michigan for a four-game series beginning Friday at 6:35 p.m.