COLUMBUS, Ohio Key hitting with runners in scoring position the team was 5-for-9 with two sacrifice flies and another well-pitched game by Ohio State carried the Buckeyes to a 3-0 series sweep over Michigan State with a 6-1 win Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State has now won four consecutive games and is 26-7 on the season and 6-3 in the Big Ten Conference.

Ryan Dew, Cory Rupert, Zach Hurley (twice), Michael Stephens and Dan Burkhart each had an RBI hit or sacrifice fly with men in scoring position on a day when two runs could have been enough with another terrific effort put forth by the Ohio State pitchers.

“Not to take anything away from Michigan State, but I felt we did what we needed to do and we executed better this weekend,” coach Bob Todd, who won his 981st game, said. “We did enough to score some runs.”

A trio of Ohio State pitchers gave up just four hits, one walk and no earned runs in shutting the Spartans down for the third consecutive day. Starter Eric Best pitched 5.0 innings to improve to 6-1 on the season. Drew Rucinski and Jake Hale pitched flawlessly in relief once again. Rucinski pitch 3.0 innings and Hale pitched the ninth and closed out a game for the 19th time this season.

For the series, Ohio State’s pitching limited the Spartans, 11-21 and 3-6 in the Big Ten, to just five runs and17 hits.

“The key was the pitching staff was throwing strikes,” Todd said. “They are getting into a comfort zone pitching, and pitching at home has had a positive effect. This team is comfortable playing at Bill Davis Stadium.”

Michigan State starter Kyle Corcoran pitched well himself, lasting 6.0 innings while scattering nine hits. He gave up four runs, walked three and struck out four. He had just one walk entering the seventh inning, but he walked the first two Buckeyes of the inning and that was all for Corcoran, who dropped to 0-3 on the season.

After Michigan State took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the second, Ohio State came back to regain the lead with two runs in hits half of the second. Burkhart got a “thank-you” double left fielder Johnny Lee lost the ball in the sun and Justin Miller and Dew followed with singles. Dew’s hit scored Burkhart. After Dew moved to second on a double steal attempt, Rupert drove him home with a two-out double to center.

Ohio State added two insurance runs in the fifth inning. Tyler Engle stroked a one-out single, moved to second on a balk and scored on Hurley’s single. Hurley moved to second on a wild pitch and then Stephens drove him home with a two-out single to make the score 4-1.

After Engle and Hurley walked to open the seventh inning, Cory Kovanda moved both runners up with a sac bunt. Two batters later Burkhart hit a sacrifice fly for the team’s fifth run of the game. Michael Arp scored in the eighth after singling with one out. Hurley’s sacrifice fly drove him home.

The loss was the Spartans 14th this season on the road against one win.

Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:

  • The series sweep was Ohio State’s first Big Ten series sweep since taking Indiana in four consecutive games in 2007.
  • The sweep was the 31st by Ohio State since 1981. Coach Bob Todd’s teams have recorded 29 of those 31 sweeps.
  • Bob Todd on the importance of a three-game sweep, now that the Big Ten is a three-game series vs. a four-game set: “Bragging that you’ve won a series [2-1] isn’t good enough. Somewhere, if we want to win the Big Ten, we have to win three games and this was a classic example.” 
  • Zach Hurley’s team-leading 19th multiple-hit game of the season was also the 22nd game out of the last 24 that he has hit safely. It was also his ninth multi-hit game in the last 16.
  • Cory Rupert and Ryan Dew also had two hits for the Buckeyes Sunday.
  • Tyler Engle’s career-best hitting streak has reached seven games. His fifth-inning single also represented the ninth game out of the last 10 that he has hit safely. Engle came around to score a key run that extended a slim 2-1 lead to 3-1. Engle also scored in the seventh.
  • As big a mid-week game as we’ll have at Bill Davis Stadium this year will take place Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. The Buckeyes host 23-7 (and 8-2 in the MAC) Kent State University, a team predicted to win the MAC and make the NCAA tournament. The team is making noise so far with its gaudy record. Pitcher Brad Stilling pitched a perfect game Friday night over Toledo. He struck out nine in the 1-0 win.
  • Next weekend Ohio State plays at Purdue. Friday start time is 4 p.m. The Saturday and Sunday games will each start at 12 noon and both will be televised by the Big Ten Network.