SARASOTA, Fla. Ohio State smacked 16 hits, including four by freshman Dan Burkhart and three by freshman Ryan Meade, and came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Harvard, 9-7, Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium. The win improved Ohio State’s record to 6-4 on the year while Harvard drops to 0-5.

Burkhart singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to help the Buckeyes overcome a three-run home run by the Crimson’s Matt Vance in the fourth. Burkhart scored three times to support the pitching of starter Jake Hale, who went six innings, and true freshman Andrew Armstrong, who got the win with 2.0 innings of effective relief pitching. Alex Wimmers picked up the save by recording the final out of the game. J.B. Shuck had three RBI and Cory Kovanda and Tony Kennedy each had two hits. 

Ohio State took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Burkhart led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kennedy’s single to center field. Kennedy’s hit was well-earned: his at-bat was nine pitches deep. 

Hale, in his first start of the season, cruised through the first four innings, scattering five hits and looking sharp. But he gave up a two-out, three-run home run to Vance and suddenly Harvard was on top 3-1 entering the top of the sixth inning.

Ohio State came right back. Shuck’s all-out hustle turned a would-be leadoff single to left center field into a surprising double. Kovanda followed with an infield single but Shuck was unable to advance. Both advance to third, though, on a finely executed sacrifice bunt by Ryan Dew. Justin Miller walked, loading the bases for Meade. Facing a bases loaded at-bat for the first time as a collegian, Meade went opposite field with a sacrifice fly that scored Shuck to make the score 3-2. 

Hale came back to shut the Crimson down in the sixth and the Buckeye bats went to work in the seventh. Dan Burkhart cracked his second double of the game to left center field and Tony Kennedy drilled a single to right with Burkhart moving to third. Brian DeLucia walked on four pitches to load the bases for Shuck. Shuck hit a slow grounder that the second baseman bobbled, scoring Burkhart. Haviland escaped out of the inning by stopping a line shot by Kovanda up the middle to start a 1-2-3 double play and then he got Dew on a fly out.

Armstrong came in to pitch for Ohio State in the seventh. He walked the first batter he faced, struck out the next and then gave up a two-out single. He got the next batter on a ground out and the two teams went into the eighth inning tied at 3-all.

The Buckeyes then chased Haviland in the eighth and when the inning was over, Ohio State had scored its most runs in an inning this year four and grabbed a 7-3 lead.  Burkhart and Kennedy had RBIs in the inning and Shuck had a two-out, two-run single for the big hit.

Two more runs in the ninth Meade drove in one run and Cory Rupert scored on a wild pitch increased the lead to five runs, 9-4.

In the ninth, Rory Meister replaced Armstrong after the leadoff hitter walked and the No. 2 batter reached on a fielder’s choice. Another walk loaded the bases and a one-out wild pitch advanced the runners to make the score 9-5. A double by Tom Stack-Babich scored two runs and suddenly it was 9-7. Wimmers came in and struck out the only batter he faced to end the game and get credit for his second save of the year.

Ohio State resumes play Sunday at 3 p.m. against Dartmouth at IMG Academy Park.

Baseball Bits and Pieces from Florida:

  • Friday was the team’s off day. It rained most of the day.
  • An Ohio State alumni club from Sarasota held a pre-game picnic at the stadium and served up some of the biggest, meatiest burgers one would hope to get at a picnic. The beans were quite flavorful, too. 
  • Ed Smith Stadium is the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. A giant Reds logo behind home plate greets the fans.
  • Tony Kennedy extended his team-best hitting streak to 10 games with his third inning, RBI single. His single in the seventh gave him his first multi-hit game of the year.
  • Dan Burkhart had two firsts: his first extra base hit he had two doubles and his first multi-hit game.
  • Harvard played and lost to Northern Iowa earlier in the day, 5-3.
  • Harvard coach Joe Walsh, who is Irish, had his team wear green and white Harvard baseball hats with a green shamrock on the back, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day next Wednesday. Pitcher Shawn Haviland is also Irish. Harvard, whose school color is Crimson, does not play on St. Patrick’s Day this year so that is why they broke out the hats.
  • Harvard has the most intercollegiate sports in Division I: 41. The only school with more sports: MIT, right down the road from Harvard.
  • There were 28 professional baseball scouts in attendance…no doubt watching Jake Hale’s first start of the year but also keeping an eye on Harvard starter Haviland, a 6-3 right-hander who was the Pitcher of the Year in the Ivy League in 2006.
  • The team, for the first time this year, wore uniforms sporting logos celebrating the 125th season of Ohio State baseball. The logos are now on all three sets of team jerseys: scarlet, white and gray.