COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State made the best of a cold evening on a wet field by collecting 13 hits and not committing any errors in an 11-6 Big Ten Conference win over Minnesota Friday at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State improves to 14-8 on the season and 3-2 in the Big Ten while Minnesota drops to 12-12 and 2-3, respectively.
Jake Hale, battling through a touch of a chest cold, pitched 6.1 innings to get the win and improve to 3-0 on the season. The junior scattered 10 hits and gave up six runs. He was relieved in the seventh by Eric Best, who had his best outing of the year with 2.2 innings of two-hit, shutout work. Best struck out three and only walked one of the 11 batters he faced.
“Eric [Best] did a good job,” Ohio State head coach Bob Todd said. “He threw pitches in the strike zone.”
Offensively, the Buckeyes had four doubles among their 13 hits with Zach Hurley collecting two of them. Hurley was one of three Buckeyes to score multiple runs with two. Catcher Dan Burkhart scored three times and Cory Rupert scored twice. Tony Kennedy, Justin Miller and Ryan Dew each had two RBI.
Minnesota had 12 hits three apiece by Matt Nohelty and Derek McCallum but committed five errors that led to four unearned runs. Starter Tom Buske took the loss and is now 3-3 on the year.
Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Jeff Desmidt and McCallum singled and doubled to lead off the inning and Kyle Knudson and Jeremy Chlan drove them home with singles.
Ohio State came back in their half of the second to score four runs off three hits and two Minnesota errors. Hurley doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Dew’s single. Kennedy’s fielder’s choice scored Burkhart, who reached on an error. Cory Kovanda singled home Tyler Engle, who reached on an error. And Miller drew a bases loaded walk to score Kennedy, making the score 4-2.
Two more Buckeye runs in the third Rupert and Burkhart each scored after collecting singles in the inning made the score 6-2.
Minnesota added a run in the fourth, but Ohio State pieced together four straight two-out hits in the sixth to score three more runs and take a 9-3 lead, chasing Buske in the process. J.B. Shuck singled, stole second and scored on Miller’s double. Hurley followed with his second double of the game to score Miller and Hurley later scored on a passed ball.
Minnesota countered with three runs in the top of the seventh to close to within 9-6. The inning could have been even more productive for the Golden Gophers, but a Shuck-to-Hale-to-Burkhart sequence after a single got Nate Hanson at home plate trying to score on the play. Burkhart didn’t budge as Hanson slammed into him about a foot from home plate and then reached down to apply the tag.
Ohio State scored two more times in the eighth inning and with Best at his best, Minnesota was unable to come back from an 11-6 deficit in the ninth inning.
The two teams resume their four-game set with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:05 p.m.
Game Notes and Good Stuff:
Tony Kennedy had an odd line: 5-1-0-2. His two RBI came on a fielder’s choice and a ground out.
With two hits against Minnesota, Zach Hurley is now hitting .364 over the last nine games (8-for-22).
You won’t see this in the box score, but Justin Miller made a huge defensive play in the eighth inning, diving to his right to catch a low line drive off the bat of Jeremy Chlan for the first out of the inning.
Ohio State, with 801 wins, and Minnesota (736) are the two winningest teams in the Big Ten Conference over the last 20 years.
Eric Best lowered his ERA from 5.06 to 4.05 with 2.2 innings of scoreless work.
Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin signed autographs before the game and then through out the honorary first pitch. He threw the pitch to his nephew, Ohio State redshirt freshman center fielder Chris Griffin.