COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State dropped a 9-2 decision to Michigan Saturday at Bill Davis Stadium and in the process fell out of first place in the chase for the Big Ten Conference championship. The Buckeyes are now 34-11 overall and 13-5 in the Big Ten. Michigan is 24-21 overall and 7-11 in the league. 

Three unearned runs in the first inning by Michigan lulled the huge Sunday crowd of 2,525 into their seats and the Buckeyes were unable to get the fans back on their feet like they were during the Saturday sweep over Michigan.

Michigan starter Eric Katzman, who improved to 7-4 with the win, was solid on the mound. The junior left-hander worked 5.0 innings and gave up just one run off four hits. Throwing pitches from a variety of angles, Katzman kept the Buckeyes from gaining any rhythm in the batter’s box. As a result, Ohio State left eight runners on base through Katzman’s five innings and 13 for the game. 
“I was not thrilled with our energy today,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “There was a lack of discipline at the plate. We swung at way too many bad pitches.”

Michigan’s first inning runs came off four hits and one Ohio State error. Mike Dufek had an RBI double and Nick Urban a two-out RBI ground-out.

Ohio State starter Eric Best gave his best although not at his best while pitching somewhat under the weather. The junior hung in there through 4.1 innings and allowed seven hits, two earned runs, two walks and he struck out four. His record drops to 6-3 with the loss.

Trailing 5-0, Ohio State finally got something going in the fifth inning by loading the bases with one out. Zach Hurley led off with a double, Cory Kovanda singled and Michael Stephens walked to load them up. But the only run to score, sandwiched around a fly-out and an inning-ending strikeout, came when Ryan Dew was hit by a pitch. 

Michigan increased the lead to 7-1 in the sixth and to 9-2 in the eighth. Shawn Forsythe, making only his third start at catcher in place of Dan Burkhart, singled with two out in the seventh and then scored on Hurley’s double to right for Ohio State’s second run of the game.

Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:

  • Illinois had not yet pulled ahead of the Buckeyes at the time this story was published, but it was leading Northwestern, 8-0, in the sixth inning. Minnesota could also move ahead of Ohio State if it wins today. The Golden Gophers were leading Iowa, 12-0, in the ninth. Wins by those teams would position Illinois in first at 14-4 followed by Minnesota (13-4) and Ohio State (13-5).
  • This storied rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan now has the most chapters. Ohio State has played Michigan 252 times on the diamond since first meeting in 1895, making the Wolverines Ohio State’s most-played opponent. Indiana is second on Ohio State’s most-played list with 251 games. 
  • Jared Strayer pitched a 3-up-3-down inning in the seventh, the third consecutive game the sophomore has performed well in relief. Jake Hale entered and finished a game for the 28th consecutive time.
  • Dan Burkhart did not play today because of a left leg injury suffered in Game 2 Saturday. It was only the third game he has not started this season and it was the first Big Ten Conference game he has missed after 45 consecutive starts…47 consecutive when Big Ten tournament games are included.
  • Ohio State is 2-4 in Big Ten Sunday games.
  • A classy gesture: Michigan coach Rich Maloney sought out Alex Wimmers after the series-ending game and shook his hand and offered his congratulations on Wimmers’ job-well-done Saturday.
  • Ohio State is in the midst of a monster week of eight games in nine days. The team leaves Tuesday for a two-game set at 32-13 Louisville Tuesday (6:05 p.m. start) and Wednesday (12:05 start). The team returns home Wednesday night and leaves Thursday afternoon for a three-game set at Big Ten-leading Illinois this weekend.