PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Seven times in three games this weekend Ohio State has trailed and six times it has come back to retake the lead and in the process win two games. The team couldn’t come back a lucky seventh time in the nightcap of a doubleheader with Saint Louis Saturday, falling 10-9 after winning the opener, 15-9. The split with the Billikins at the North Charlotte Regional Park left Ohio State with a 7-2 record heading into its Snowbird Classic finale Sunday at 12 noon against Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Saint Louis scored its 10 runs off 12 hits but was helped along with seven walks by the Ohio State pitchers. The game featured six different lead changes with Saint Louis taking the lead for good behind a four-run seventh inning to take a 10-7 lead. Ohio State scored a run in the seventh and another in the eighth and had a man on second in the ninth but couldn’t come through one more time this weekend with a big hit to extend or win the game.

Brian DeLucia led an 18-hit attack in the second game with four hits and three RBI. Five other Buckeyes had multiple hits in the game with Cory Rupert owning three, including a seventh-inning triple.

Dean Wolosiansky went 6.1 innings and gave up eight runs off nine hits and six walks. His record drops to 1-1 on the season. 

“A lot of things that were good happened today,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “But when we have a chance to win a ball game we have got to find a way to make plays.”

In Game 1, Ohio State ace Alex Wimmers had allowed just six singles and one earned run in his first two starts, but the Billikins jumped on the junior All-American early. RBI singles by Ben Braaten, Zach Miller and Andrew Guerra, part of a four-hit first inning, staked the Billikins to a 3-0 lead. Chris Griffin, starting in place of Michael Stephens in center, kept at least one additional run from scoring with a knee-first sliding grab.

The Billikins kept up their hot hitting, eventually getting 12 hits off Wimmers and five runs in his 5.0 innings pitched, but the Buckeye bats were equal to the task with 20 hits off three Saint Louis pitchers to spark a 15-9 win.

Captains Zach Hurley and Cory Kovanda led the offensive attack with a combined six hits, five runs scored and six RBI from the top two positions in the lineup. Hurley had a solo home run, an RBI triple and a two-run double while Kovanda had three singles, three runs scored and two RBI.

The middle and bottom of Ohio State’s order also produced. Ryan Dew and Brad Hallberg had five hits and four RBI in the Nos. 4-5 positions and at 6-thru-8 DeLucia, Rupert and Matt Streng combined for seven runs, eight hits and three RBI with Streng contributing four hits and Rupert scoring three times.

After Saint Louis’ big first inning, the Buckeyes came right back in support of Wimmers. Hurley led off the OSU first with his first home run of the season, a towering shot to right center off Saint Louis lefty starter Andrew Buckham. Kovanda laid down a perfect bunt single and Dan Burkhart followed with a walk. Dew smashed a single to left to score Kovanda with Burkhart moving to third. Hallberg brought Burkhart home with a sac fly to right that tied the score.

Three more Ohio State runs in the second put the Buckeyes up 6-3 and on the way to the win. Hurley, Kovanda, Burkhart and Dew were in the middle of things this inning, too. Hurley’s triple to right scored Streng, who singled to open the inning. Kovanda singled to score Hurley and Burkhart walked for the second time in the game and the ninth time – already – this season. Dew duplicated his first-inning smash with another to left to score Kovanda and put the Bucks up, 6-3.

The teams matched three runs apiece through the bottom of the sixth when Ohio State broke the game open with a four more runs. DeLucia opened the inning with a triple and consecutive singles by Rupert, Streng, Chris Griffin and Hurley’s double plated four to build a 13-6 lead.

Wimmers, who was replaced in the sixth inning by Theron Minium, picked up his third win in as many starts this season.  Minium pitched the final 4.0 innings to record his first save of the season. The junior allowed just three hits and two earned runs while striking out four with two walks.

Notes & Random Thoughts While Travelling with the Team:

  • Two Buckeyes made their first collegiate start in Game 2 today: freshman Ryan Cypret started at second and junior D.J. Hanlin started at catcher. Both had hits and both played well defensively. Congratulations, guys, on two starts well done.
  • “I was ready for the start and very excited,” Hanlin said after the game. “The game was a combination of excitement and thrill of all the hard work paying off. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year getting better and getting stronger and Coach Todd and Pete Jenkins have supported me and have gained confidence in me.”
  • Zach Hurley picked up his second outfield assist of the year in the fourth inning of Game 1 by nailing Danny Brock, who was trying to score from second on a single, with a solid catch and block of the plate by Dan Burkhart.
  • Burkhart and his twin brother, Jeff, are each celebrating a birthday today. Happy Birthday, brothers.
  • Ryan Dew also had an outfield assist to get Brock out in the second game. After Brock singled to left and tried stretching it to a double, Dew hit Ryan Cypret with a one-bounce throw and Cypret applied a sweep tag to erase Brock.
  • Ohio State had 38 hits in the two games including six apiece by Brian DeLucia and Matt Streng.
  • Hurley, Dew, and Cory Rupert had five hits apiece with four of Hurley’s hits for extra bases (HR, 3B, and two 2Bs). Cory Kovanda had a three-hit-three-run first game and a pinch hit sac bunt in the second.
  •  The team had nine extra-base hits in the two games.
  • The team batting average jumped 34 points Saturday, from .324 to .358 and slugging climbed 35 points from .494 to .529.
  • The areas of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, where the team is staying, were devastated in 2004 by Hurricane Charlie. That’s why there are so many new buildings.
  • The snowbirds like to listen to…the Moody Blues. The progressive rockers with hits such as “The Land of Make Believe” and “Isn’t Life Strange” are performing seven concerts in the state of Florida to kick off a 2010 tour. The group sold out its opening night Thursday at 5,000-seat Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla., and movin’ and groovin’ to the seminal sounds were Carole Rosing from the business office and her husband, Jim. The two are in Port Charlotte cheering on the Buckeyes.
  • Here’s a Jim-dandy note: it was nice to see Buckeye Diamond Club treasurer Jim Durham at the games today. An open seat on the Buckeye charter had his name on it and Durham made the trip to support the team…sort of. A round of golf in Fort Myers got in the way of his game watching Friday.
  • The best way to describe the contemporary décor in the rooms at the Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside: a combination of ocean cruise luxury liner, Feng shui, and IKEA. They are cheerfully bright with lots of white ceramic tile, natural maple wood flooring and seascape photos with hues of yellows and blues. Walk into the bathroom through a sliding door with porthole window and one is greeted by an automatic fan and, unless this writer is totally wrong because of sensory overload, a puff of perfume.