COLUMBUS, Ohio. A hot and hard-hitting Ball State team came back from a five-run deficit to record a 20-8 win over No. 23 Ohio State Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium. The Cardinals scored their 20 runs off 16 hits with 12 of them extra base hits.

Ohio State countered with 15 hits and three home runs by Michael Stephens, Ryan Dew and Michael Arp but four errors and 18 relief corps runs ultimately did in the Buckeyes. The loss dropped Ohio State’s record to 29-9 on the season. Ball State evened its mark at 17-17.

“We didn’t throw strikes or play good defense and Ball State capitalized on it,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “Ross Oltorik pitched good enough for us. He kept hitters off balance. We brought some younger pitchers in to get them some experience but we let the game get away.”

Oltorik, a true freshman, gave the Buckeyes five terrific innings from the mound for his best performance to date. He allowed just two hits, walked one and struck out five batters to tie his career best set previously vs. Hartford. He left after the fifth inning with the Buckeyes comfortably in front, 5-0.

Michael Stephens, who led Ohio State with three hits, had an RBI single in the first and a two-run home run in the third to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead. Justin Miller had an RBI double in the third and Dan Burkhart a sacrifice fly in the fifth to account for the Buckeyes’ first five runs.

After Ball State closed to within 5-4 with a four-run sixth inning, Dew homered in Ohio State’s half of the sixth his fourth of the season to extend the lead.

But then Ball State went to right back to work, scoring five more in the seventh, four in the eighth and seven in the ninth inning while Ohio State was able to score just two more runs off Arp’s fourth home run of the season. Ball State was led at the plate by Kolbrin Vitek, who had three hits and six RBI, with four of those RBI coming off an eighth inning grand slam. Catcher Zach Dygert also had three hits and six RBI on the strength of two three-run home runs. 

Cardinal centerfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, who is having a terrific season with a .440 batting average, saved a run in the second inning by being a trouble maker: he went up and over the wall to rob Arp of a 405-foot home run. Hazelbaker ended up scoring four runs of his own later on with two hits and two walks to his credit.

Tom Mueller picked up the win to improve to 1-2 on the year. Jared Strayer drops to 0-1 with the loss.

 Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:

  • Former Buckeye Michael Stafford had a successful homecoming to Bill Davis Stadium. Stafford, a relief pitcher for the Buckeyes who lettered in 1997-98, is in his sixth year as pitching coach on the Ball State staff and his fourth year as coach Greg Beals’ top assistant.
  • Stafford, all-Big Ten in 1998, graduated from Ohio State in 1998 and spent four seasons in minor league baseball before embarking on his coaching career.
  • Ohio State leads the all-time series with Ball State, 11-5. This was just the third game between the teams since the 1971 season. 
  • Both teams came into the game with impressive totals of 135 extra base hits. Ball State now has 147; Ohio State 139.
  • Ball State has stolen 86 bases in 34 games, an average of 2.55 per game which ranks third nationally. The Cardinals are so proficient as base stealers, they have had two six-steal games and six five-steal games already this season.
  • This was the first time since the 2002 season that Ohio State has surrendered 20 runs in a game. The team lost to New Mexico that year, 22-2, in Albuquerque.
  • The win over a ranked team was Ball State’s first since defeating No. 8 Kentucky in the 2006 NCAA Regionals. 
  • Dan DeLucia, who called all three Buckeye wins at Purdue over the weekend as part of the WTDA 103.5 Talk FM team, stopped by the game to see the Buckeyes one last time before he takes off Friday for Canada to compete for Winnipeg in the Northern League. All the best to you, Dan, and to former Buckeye Matt Davis, who will be a teammate.
  • Come on out to the ball park this weekend. Temperatures are supposed to hit 80 degrees during Ohio State’s three-game series with Northwestern. Game times are 6:35 p.m Friday and 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.