COLLEGE STATION, Texas The Texas A&M Aggies, ranked 27th by Collegiate Baseball, steadily chipped away at a 5-1 deficit and finally overtook the Buckeyes in the eighth inning to record an 8-5 win in the Dominos Pizza Baseball Classic before a noisy crowd of 5,051 fans at C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field.
The Aggies scored three times in the eighth inning off Ohio State reliever Rory Meister, who dropped to 0-1 with the loss, and the Buckeyes were unable to plate any runs in the top of the ninth. The win lifts the Aggies’ record to 5-2 while Ohio State drops to 3-1.
Michael Arp and Cory Ruppert each had two RBI for the Buckeyes while Ryan Meade scored twice. Meade and Cory Kovanda each had two hits to lead a season-high total of 11 hits against the A&M pitchers.
Dan DeLucia had another solid outing for the Buckeyes. The senior captain pitched 4.1 innings and exited in the fifth with a 5-1 lead, but with runners on base. DeLucia ended up giving up three earned runs on the evening and he walked three and struck out two. As a staff, the Buckeyes gave up nine walks and hit three batters.
“There were a lot of good at bats for us today,” coach Bob Todd said. “There was intensity and we did a lot of things well. They had more quality at-bats and more quality pitches on the mound, though. We created some problems for ourselves with the walks and the hit batters. I m disappointed we didn’t wint the game because I thought we had the game and momentum. We just need to be more consistent. Tomorrow we need to come with same determination and the same intensity.”
The Buckeyes did their best to silence a noisy A&M crowd that is serious about its baseball and has chants and gimmicks and games and fun at every opportunity. The crowd was mostly quiet in the first though as Ohio State scored three runs off lefty Kirkland Rivers. Ryan Dew had an RBI double and Rupert and Arp had run-scoring singles.
A&M scored a run in the second, but Ohio State added two more in the third to chase Rivers. Rupert drove home Justin Miller on an infielder grounder and Arp had his second RBI single of the game.
Ohio States threatened in the fifth with men on second and third and one out. But pitcher Kyle Thebeau, who picked up the win with 6.0 innings of scoreless work, struck out Arp swinging and got Dan Burkhart to ground out to keep the home team from trailing by any more than 5-1.
The Aggies chased DeLucia in the fifth with two runs off one hit and an OSU error, making the score 5-3. Freshman Alex Wimmers came in and got the final two outs of the inning on sacrifice fly and a strikeout.
Wimmers walked the first batter of the sixth inning and then Brody Greene stroked a triple to right center to make the score 5-4. Wimmers then hit two straight Aggie batters to load the bases. Eric Best, who came in against Memphis last week with the bases loaded and nobody out, relieved Wimmers. Best struck out the first two batters he faced before walking preseason All-American Blake Stouffer with the tying run. He got the Buckeyes out of the inning with no further damage as the next batter grounded to third.
With one out in the seventh, Best walked three straight batters before giving way to senior Rory Meister. With the pressure mounting and the crowd as loud as ever, roaring for a go-ahead run, Meister fanned the first batter he faced and then got the second on a ground out to end the seventh at 5-all.
The comeback for A&M was completed in the eighth inning, though, as Dane Carter led off with a double and scored when Stouffer reached on an error. After Stouffer stole second, Brian Ruggiano tripled off the center field wall to make the score 7-5. Ruggiano then scored on a sacrifice fly making it 8-5.
The Buckeyes take on 6-1 Louisiana Tech at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field. Louisiana Tech lost, 9-8, to Arkansas Friday on a walk-off, two-out home run in the ninth.