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: