COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State dropped the fourth and final game of a Big Ten Conference series against Illinois in Greenville, S.C., Sunday morning, 8-0, as the Illini pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout. The Buckeyes were victorious in the series, though, with two extra-inning victories plus a third to leave the sunny, albeit chilly, south with a 3-1 record after the first weekend of competition.
“We showed some perseverance and some resiliency this weekend,” Ohio State coach Greg Beals said. “We got in some tough spots this weekend. Today, we weren’t able to get things done, but the first three games of this series we did.”
Ohio State won Game 1 on Friday, 6-3, in 13 innings, a game in which the bullpen allowed just one run in seven innings after starter Garrett Burhenn went a solid 6.0 innings. Game 2 also was an extra inning win, 6-5, in nine innings in what was a scheduled 7-inning game. Game 3 was a 12-6 victory.
Today, the Illini scored three runs in the first, two in the third and three more in the eighth to back a quartet of pitchers that recorded 12 strikeouts and five walks in addition to allowing just the three hits. Sophomore Cole Kirschsieper started, allowed one hit in five innings and got his initial decision of the season.
The Buckeyes countered with Will Pfenning, who went 2.2 innings and gave up five earned runs. Three different pitchers came into the game in relief with the positive takeaway today the pitching of Wyatt Loncar. The sophomore from Pacific Palisades, Calif., pitched 4.0 innings of scoreless baseball to keep the Buckeyes in it until the penultimate inning of the game when Illinois put it away with its final three runs. Loncar allowed just two hits, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. He coaxed two double plays and struck out the side in the seventh, his final inning.
Ohio State continues its 44-game season – all Big Ten contests – with a trip to Minneapolis, Minn., next weekend to play four games, but none against the Golden Gophers. Ohio State will play Nebraska two times and Iowa two times between Friday and Sunday.
The schedule is the schedule in this pandemic, but the good thing is the teams are playing baseball and the Buckeyes have started off well and appear to have plenty of depth.
“We showed this weekend that we are capable of playing at a high level,” junior Zach Dezenzo said. “We got contributions from a lot of guys all over the field. We also learned we’re resilient. We overcame adversity and responded in those situations and ultimately came out with a series win.”