COLUMBUS, Ohio Alex Wimmers carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, Zach Hurley and Dan Burkhart each hit home runs, and Ohio State took the first game of this three-game set with a 6-1 win over Michigan State Friday night at Bill Davis Stadium. Game two will be played Saturday at 1:05 p.m. 

Wimmers ended up throwing his third complete game of the season while striking out 10 or more batters for the fourth time to improve to 6-1 on the season. The sophomore from Cincinnati scattered two hits, struck out 11 and walked just one in yet another commanding performance on the mound.

“Alex Wimmers was the story of this game,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd, who watched his team improve to 24-7 and 4-3 in the Big Ten, said. “He dominated this ball game.”

With the score 5-0, Spartan catcher Eric Roof broke up Wimmers’ no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the eighth inning. He moved to second on a bunt single and scored on a balk call. On that play, Wimmers said after the game he thought the home plate umpire had called time out.

Hurley hit his fifth home run of the season to lead off the game and give the Buckeyes a quick 1-0 lead and, at the same time, ensure that Michigan State starter Nolan Moody wasn’t going to throw back-to-back no-hitters in the Big Ten. Moody, a senior from East Lansing, carried a perfect game into the eighth inning of his no-hit gem one week ago vs. Northwestern. Moody went 6.1 innings against the Buckeyes, giving up seven hits, five runs and six walks with three strikeouts. He drops to 4-4 with the loss while Michigan State falls to 11-19 and 3-4 in the Big Ten.

Wimmers retired the first 11 batters he faced before walking Eli Boike in the fourth inning. Wimmers helped himself out of the inning by beating Chris Roberts to first to receive the throw after OSU first baseman Matt Streng ranged far to his left to snap up a grounder. 

Streng then drove in Michael Arp, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a throwing error, to make the score 2-0 in the sixth inning.

Moody got into some trouble in the seventh. After walking the first two batters, Burkhart sent Moody’s first pitch over the right field wall for a three-run home run, a 5-0 Ohio State lead and an exit from the game for Moody. The home run was Burkhart’s sixth of the season.

At that point all eyes were on Wimmers, but as quickly as Hurley got a hit off Moody, Roof got his bat on a 2-0 curve ball to break up Wimmers’ chance at a no-no.

Burkhart, who has caught Wimmers since the two were nine-years-old, said there was nothing you could do about the hit because it was a good pitch that Wimmers threw. Then he paid his longtime friend a compliment that only Burkhart, who has caught so many of Wimmers’ games, would know.

“Alex has had a ton of great outings and this was another great one.”

Indeed it was.

Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:

  • Alex Wimmers on his performance: “All my pitches were working early on.”
  • Wimmers told the coaches that he wanted to go out in the ninth and complete the game. “I love not coming out of the ball game so the longer I am in the game the better.”
  • Wimmers and Nolan Moody for Michigan State have two national player of the week and three Big Ten player of the week awards between them this season. Wimmers earned a national and back-to-back Big Ten awards after shutting down Pitt and Indiana with 15- and 14-strikeout gems. Moody no-hit Northwestern last week to claim his Big Ten and national awards.
  • Shortstop Tyler Engle, getting warmed up after missing 16 of the first 30 games with a leg injury, showed his range and glove skills with a nice play and quick throw from behind the second base bag to throw out Jonathan Roof in the third inning.
  • Engle also kept his hot bat going. The sophomore from Beverly, Ohio, had a second inning single to extend his hitting streak to a career-high tying five games. He added a triple in the eighth and later scored. He is the eighth Buckeye to hit a triple this season and he has now hit in seven of the last eight games.
  • Ohio State’s 19 triples this season are tied for fifth-most on Ohio State’s all-time single season charts.
  • Ohio State starting pitchers have a 15-2 record this season (with two no decisions) when they pitch at least 5.0 innings.
  • Matt Streng and Dan Burkhart joined Engle with multiple hits, part of an eight-hit night for the Buckeyes.
  • Lines for each team: 6 runs, 8 hits, 0 errors for Ohio State; 1 run, 2 hits, 1 error for MSU.
  • Coach Bob Todd credited the team’s mental toughness after the game. “The mental toughness paid off,” Todd said. “I could tell early that the team was getting frustrated because we couldn’t get a two-out hit, but then Dan Burkhart hits a three-run home run and that was the big hit of the game.”
  • Yeeeeee-haw! Press box folk hungry folk experienced the return of pizza as a pregame meal at Bill Davis Stadium. The cheese and pepperoni slices were tasty…very tasty.