WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Sophomore pitcher Alex Wimmers struck out 15 batters and went the distance and the Ohio State offense totaled 20 hits in a 20-3 win over Pittsburgh Friday at the Santaluces Sports Complex. No. 30 Ohio State moves to 10-2 on the season and Pitt’s record drops to 5-5.

Wimmers, throwing the first complete game of the season for an Ohio State pitcher, scattered six hits and allowed three earned runs while walking only two batters and running his record to 3-0 on the season. He gave up a first inning, two-run home run to Chris Warner and then was overpowering the rest of the way in registering the most strikeouts in a game by a Buckeye since Major Leaguer Scott Lewis struck out 15 in a 2003 game.

“Everything was working tonight,” Wimmers said. “My curveball was working. My change was working with the lefties. I felt good the whole game. I just went out there and competed the best I could. Dan [Burkhart] called a great game. He and I just kept talking in between innings about what we wanted to do out there and it paid off. A couple guys hit me hard but thank goodness our offense picked me up today.”

Burkhart who has played baseball with Wimmers since they were nine-years-old and has caught him hundreds of times, including as teammates at Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller H.S., was impressed with what he saw and caught during the game.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen his curveball better,” Burkhart, said. “And his off-speed pitch was on the whole day.”

Wimmers struck out the side in the first inning, but before that Warner tagged a two-out pitch over the center field wall for a 2-0 Pitt lead.

Wimmers added two more strikeouts in each of the second and third innings to tie his career high of seven in one game. When he got Danny Lopez swinging to start the fourth inning, Wimmers had set a new career best with his eighth of the game. Little did he know that it would only be the halfway point of his game total.

The game was a game early. The Buckeyes forced across a run against Pitt starter Nate Reed (0-1) in the third inning. Matt Streng singled and hustled to third on a throwing error by the third baseman. Cory Kovanda drove him home with a single to right field to make the score 2-1.

Two more runs off two hits and a Pitt error put the Buckeyes into the lead at 3-2 after four. Burkhart bounced a single over the first baseman’s head to score Michael Stephens from third, who led off the inning with a single. And Cory Rupert’s sacrifice fly scored Justin Miller, who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Kovanda instigated a three-run fifth inning by reaching base on a perfect and surprise bunt in between the pitcher and first baseman with two out. Michael Stephens followed with a single and Miller, the team captain, connected with his second home run of the season for a 6-2 Ohio State lead. 

A five-run sixth chased Reed, who struck out six and didn’t walk a batter, and the Buckeyes didn’t quit as they tacked on two more in the seventh and seven runs in the eighth inning.

“I liked the way we played the last four innings,” coach Bob Todd said. “And I liked the fact that Alex wanted to go out there in the eighth and ninth innings and finish the game. He competed for us and that was good to see.”

The Buckeyes’ 20 hit attack the team’s second of the season was led by Miller’s three hits and career-high tying five RBI. Kovanda and Stephens also had three hits, and two runs scored apiece. Zach Hurley had two hits and three RBI and Rupert, Ryan Dew and Matt Streng all contributed multiple hits, multiple runs scored and an RBI or two.

Ohio State continues its West Palm Beach weekend with two games Saturday: a 12 noon game against SIU Edwardsville and a 3:30 tentative start contest against Maryland Baltimore County. Lefties Andrew Armstrong and Eric Best will get the start in the two games, respectively. 

Game Notes from Florida, Volume X…

  • Ohio State holds a 16-1 edge in the all-time series with Pitt.
  • Dan Burkhart’s fourth inning, run-scoring single extended his hitting streak to 15 consecutive games dating back to last season.
  • Michael Stephens (10 games), Cory Kovanda (nine) and Matt Streng (seven) also extended hitting streaks.
  • The game featured the return of sophomore shortstop Tyler Engle, who has missed all but two games this season while recovering from a upper leg injury.
  • Cory Rupert, who has played so well at short in Engle’s absence, moved back to his sophomore position of third base and Justin Miller, who has played so well at third base, moved back to first. Which meant hot hitting first baseman Matt Streng – .414 average with three home runs and nine RBIs in six games as a starter moved to the designated hitter role.
  • Rupert was robbed. We think. He led off the sixth inning and crushed a ball that sailed into the dark night and, based on the 25-foot bounce it took and the center fielder running into the fence, possibly should have been called a home run. But the umps conferred and gave him a double, believing the ball bounced on the field of play and then over the fence. 
  • Ryan Dew’s two hits and three runs scored came from the sixth inning on as he replaced Michael Arp in right field. 
  • Three of the four offensive replacements Dew, Chris Griffin and Shawn Forsythe contributed at least one hit, RBI and run scored and a fourth Ben Toussant scored a run.
  • Eight palm trees in center field serve as the batter’s eye in the Santaluces Sports Complex, a four-leaf clover of playing fields with a common gathering point behind each of the four home plates. A total of 15 more palm trees ring the outfield fence, but they all are to the left of center…none are to the right. Hmmmm…
  • Getting back to the subject of peanuts which was started three weeks ago in St. Petersburg. The Santaluces Sports Complex peanuts are tasty! The shells are rough and working them open leaves a pleasant dusting of salt that, indeed, is finger licking good.