TAMPA, Fla. Led by two home runs and four runs batted in from junior third baseman Brian DeLucia, Ohio State defeated Cincinnati, 6-5, Sunday at Red McEwen Field to complete play in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge with a 3-0 record. UC drops to 0-3 with losses to Purdue, Michigan and the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes had to battle the Bearcats, whom they were playing for the first time since 2003, in a back-and-forth game that featured seven ties and lead changes. Sophomore Drew Rucinski picked up the win in relief, pitching 3.1 innings of one-hit, no-run ball. Jake Hale got the save with an additional 1.1 innings of effective relief work. The big senior retired five of six batters he faced, including three by strikeout, and gave up just one hit and one walk. He recorded his 12th career save, tying him for fifth on Ohio State’s career saves list.  

Cincinnati touched Ohio State starter Dean Wolosianski for runs in each of the first three innings, but after Ohio State fell behind 2-0 in the second, one swing of DeLucia’s bat in the bottom of the second gave Ohio State a 3-2 lead. After Justin Miller and Cory Rupert had reached base with singles, DeLucia crushed a Brian Garman pitch over the left center field wall for a three run home run, the team’s first of the year.

Cincinnati came right back with a two-out, two-run home run by Justin Riddel to reclaim the lead at 4-3 after its half of the third.

Ohio State junior Michael Stephens, moments after making a diving stab of a low liner to end UC’s third inning, stroked a double to lead off the Buckeyes’ third and he scored on Dan Burkhart’s triple, tying the score at 4-all. The triple was Burkhart’s second of the year.

DeLucia then led off the fourth with another home run, this time a no-doubt line drive to left, giving the Buckeyes a 5-4 lead.

A Cameron Satterwhite home run in the fifth inning tied the score once again, and two singles later the day was done for Wolosianski, who scattered nine hits and gave up five runs in 4.1 innings of work. Rucinski, who pitched so well in relief Friday vs. Notre Dame, came in and struck out two Bearcats to get the Buckeyes out of the inning.

After Rucinski mowed down the Bearcats three-up-three-down in the sixth, the Buckeyes manufactured a run to take a 6-5 lead. Stephens reached on an error and moved to second on a balk. Justin Miller laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Stephens to third base, and then Stephens scored on a sacrifice fly by Burkhart.

That would be it for the scoring as Rucinski retired the first seven batters he faced and 11 of 13 before turning the game over to Hale, Ohio State’s most experienced pitcher, with runners on first and third in the eighth inning. Hale got the Buckeyes out of the jam with a groundout, and then he came back to strike out the side in the ninth, including called third strikes on Spina and another UC power hitter, Riddel, who homered three times during the “Challenge.”

UC reliever Andrew Burkett shut the Buckeye bats down, retiring all eight batters he faced from the sixth inning on. 

So the Buckeyes leave the first of five Florida trips with a 3-0 record and looking forward to games next week in Jacksonville at the Kennel Club Classic.

Game Notes from Florida, Volume III…

  • The same nine position players have started each of the team’s first three games.
  • Brian DeLucia’s monster mash home run in the third and his laser beam in the fourth represented the third and fourth homers of his career. He has hit the first home run of the season for Ohio State the past two years.
  • Ronnie Bourquin was the last Buckeye to hit two home runs in one game. He did it in a 12-2 win over Penn State on May 21, 2006.
  • Michael Stephens finished with two hits and two runs scored, his first such stats as a Buckeye.
  • Zach Hurley had a pair of singles and improved his average to .444.
  • Ryan Dew topped the charts with a .600 average (6-for-10) in the three games this weekend.
  • Cory Rupert hit safely in each of the first three games and is hitting .333 for the season.
  • DeLucia led the way with six RBI on the weekend. He and Cory Rupert scored three runs apiece.
  • Three pitchers – Alex Wimmers, Andrew Armstrong and Drew Rucinski – pitched at least 6.0 innings each this weekend and didn’t allow an earned run.
  • As a staff, the Buckeye hurlers had a 3.00 earned run average and limited the opponents to a .232 batting average. Ohio State hit .292 as a team.
  • Chris Griffin was the first offensive substitution this season for the Buckeyes. The junior outfielder pinch ran for Ryan Dew in the sixth inning and then stayed in the game at center.
  • Coach Bob Todd’s Buckeyes are 9-2 vs. Cincinnati with seven consecutive wins.
  • There were two cricket contests being played on the fields adjacent to Red McEwen Field while the Buckeyes and Bearcats played.
  • The team flies out of Tampa at 4:30 p.m. Sunday and should return to Columbus at approximately 7 p.m.