PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Ohio State closed its trip to the Snowbird Classic with a 4-2 win over Western Michigan Sunday afternoon in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Western Michigan used a leadoff walk to plate the first run of the game in the top of the first. After Vinnie Booker’s walk and a sacrifice bunt by Zach Thoma, Grant Simotes laced an RBI single up the middle to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead. After a fielders’ choice, a single and a walk, Western Michigan had the bases loaded with two down but Ohio State starter John Kuchno induced a ground ball to third for a fielders’ choice to end the inning.
The Buckeyes wasted no time knotting the score at one. Tim Wetzel reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the first and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Engle. After a flyout by Josh Dezse, Brian DeLucia drilled a single up the middle to score Wetzel and tie the game.
Ohio State then added to the lead in the second when Ryan Cypret and Brad Hutton hit back-to-back long balls to left to lead off the inning. They were the first-career home runs for both players, Hutton’s coming in just his second official at-bat as a Buckeye. It also marked the first time Ohio State has gone back-to-back since Cory Kovanda and Michael Stephens accomplished the feat on March 1, 2009 against Connecticut.
The Broncos answered back with one in the top of the third to cut the lead to 3-2. After a leadoff walk to Thoma, the Western Michigan junior stole second and scored on a two-out single by Jack Scanlon after Theron Minium came on to replace Kuchno with two down.
Western Michigan threatened again in the top of the fifth with runners on second and third and just one down when David Fathalikhani came into the game to replace Minium. However, the redshirt junior came up huge, striking out Simotes, the WMU three-hitter, before getting Troy Forton to fly out to left and end the inning.
The Buckeyes plated another in the bottom of the seventh when David Corna drove in Matt Streng, who had walked to lead off the inning, putting the Buckeyes up 4-2 heading into the eighth.
Andrew Armstrong replaced Fathalikhani after 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit while striking out three. The junior left-hander answered the bell, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth against the heart of the Western Michigan lineup.
Dezse then came on to pitch a scoreless ninth, striking out a batter, to earn his second career save while Fathalikhani picked up his first career win.
DeLucia and Hutton each had two hits for the Buckeyes but the story of the game was the job of the bullpen: 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out five.
The Buckeyes (4-3) travel to Forest City, N.C., for three games against Army, Western Carolina and Akron March 4-6.
– Special thanks to former Big Ten umpire Steve Partington and his wife, Shannon, organizers of the Snowbird Classic. They, along with their daughter, Rebecca, provided excellent hospitality to the Buckeyes while in Port Charlotte.
– A note that was not included in the Saturday doubleheader recap: congrats to Buckeye right-hander Brian Bobinski on his first career save. The junior tossed three innings, giving up one hit and one unearned run while striking out a batter.
– The Buckeyes had a 3.25 team earned-run average in the four games against the Broncos.
– Dezse, Solomon, Streng, Corna Cypret and Engle are all batting over .300 for the season.