West Palm Beach, Fla. Air Force scored four runs in the seventh and three times in the bottom of the ninth inning to record a come-from-behind, 9-8, win over Ohio State in a game that featured five lead changes and three ties. The win improved Air Force’s record to 3-7. Ohio State, playing the first of three games this week at the Santaluces Sports Complex, drops to 4-3.
Addison Gentry tied the game in the ninth with a one-out triple and, after loading the bases with two walks, Air Force’s next batter was hit by a pitch, forcing in the winning run and setting off a celebration of sorts from the Falcon fans who have seen their team win three times this year over quality teams, including wins over Mississippi State and Ohio State.
Gentry knocked in five RBI to lead Air Force. Ohio State’s Cory Rupert had three hits, two runs scored and a pair of RBI to lead the Buckeye attack. J.B. Shuck and Cory Kovanda had a pair of hits and Tony Kennedy hit a two-run home run.
Dan DeLucia pitched well, once again, in his third start of the season, going 5.2 innings while scattering six hits, allowing just two earned runs and striking out nine. He exited in the sixth inning with a 5-2 lead, the third time this season that he has left the game with the lead only to not get the decision. Drew Rucinski dropped to 1-1 with the loss in relief.
“Air Force made plays tonight and we didn’t” head coach Bob Todd said.
Justin Miller knocked in the Buckeyes first run of the game with a two-out double his sixth of the season in the top half of the first inning, scoring Ryan Dew. The Buckeyes went up, 2-0, in the third as Ryan Meade ripped a single over third base to score Rupert, who reached on an error.
Air Force tied the score in their half of the third with two runs off three hits. Chay Derbigny’s single up the middle tied the score at 2-all.
Aside from that inning, DeLucia looked strong through five. He struck out the side in the first and fourth innings and added two more strikeouts to start the fifth for five consecutive Ks at one point. He also had a 1-2-3 inning in the second, helped along by a nice catch at the fence in left center field by Tony Kennedy.
Then in the fifth, Ohio State opened with two line drive singles by Shuck and Rupert. Shuck went to third on Rupert’s single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Dew. Justin Miller lined out to third base and Shuck was out at first to end the inning with Ohio State holding a 3-2 lead.
Two singles and a intentional base on balls loaded the bases in the Falcons’ half of the sixth inning. DeLucia struck out Matt Alexander for the second out of the inning before turning the game over to Rory Meister. Meister ended the inning with a grounder to second that Kovanda bare-handed to get the force at second.
Rupert’s second hit of the game a single to left center scored a hustling Dan Burkhart from second to give the Buckeyes a 4-2 lead in the seventh. But Air Force came right back with four runs in their half of the inning to take a 6-4 lead. Meister walked the bases loaded with one out and after Eric Best got the second out on a fielder’s choice that scored a run, Gentry hit a three-run home run to right center for the big blow of the inning.
The lead didn’t last. Zach Hurley walked with one out in the eighth and Kennedy sent his first home run of the season over the right center field wall for a 6-all tie.
On to the ninth: Shuck led off the inning with a hustling, lead-off triple to left center. He scored on Rupert’s third hit of the game, an RBI single to left. Ryan Dew moved Rupert to third on a single to right and Rupert scored Ohio State’s eighth run of the game when Miller grounded into a double play.
Now leading 8-6 and hoping to close out the win, Best surrendered a leadoff single and struck out the No. 2 batter in the order before giving way to Rucinski, who hit Chay Derbigny to put runners on first and second with one out. Gentry followed with his triple, scoring both runs, and then following two walks, Jon McMahon was hit by pitch to force in the winning run and end the game.
The Buckeyes, who have lost two in a row, take on Maine Saturday at 5 p.m.
Game and Season Notes: