May 20, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Minnesota stormed out to a 7-1 lead through 2 ½ innings and then rode the arm of arm of Matt Loberg to a 9-3 complete-game victory in the opening game of a four-game Big Ten series Friday night in front of 3,012 fans at Bill Davis Stadium.
The Buckeyes need one victory in the final three games against Minnesota or a Penn State loss in its home series against Michigan to earn a berth in next week’s Big Ten tournament. The Nittany Lions beat Michigan 4-3 in 11 innings earlier Friday.
Minnesota and Ohio State each scored one run in the first inning. OSU starting pitcher Dan DeLucia (So., Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson) walked two of the first three batters and then caught David Hrncirik at second on a fielder’s choice by Jake Elder. Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy), the Buckeye second baseman, tried to complete the double play, but threw in the dirt and that enabled Luke MacLean to score, giving the Golden Gophers the early 1-0 lead.
The Buckeyes (32-17 overall and 14-12 in the Big Ten) answered in the bottom of the inning, turning an error by Hrncirik, the Minnesota second baseman, on a ground ball by Matt Angle (Fr., Whitehall, Ohio/Whitehall-Yearling). Angle went to third on a bunt by Mike Rabin (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) that went between the first baseman and the pitcher. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Steve Caravati (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover).
Minnesota (29-24, 16-12) started the second inning with three straight hits to load the bases for Tony Leseman, who reached on a fielder’s choice that nabbed Andy Hunter, who was trying to score. The Gophers took the lead on a ground out by Jeremy Chlan and then two more runs score on a two-run single to left-center by MacLean. Minnesota got three more runs in the third. DeLucia walked his third batter of the game to start the inning and then hit Elder before getting Hunter to line out to right. Kevin Carlson delivered both runners with a double off the top of the wall in left field. Carlson went to third on a fielding error on Buckeye first baseman Paul Farinacci (Sr., Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura) on a ground ball off of Mike Mee. That was the end of DeLucia’s day, who left in favor of Dan Barker (Fr., Dayton, Ohio/Northmont). Leseman plated Carlson with a sacrifice fly to build a 7-1 lead. DeLucia left after only 2.1 innings, his shortest ever start as a Buckeye. He gave up seven runs (four earned) on five hits to fall to 4-5 on the year.
After an out to start the Minnesota fifth, Barker walked Hunter, hit Carlson and then walked Mee to load the bases for Leseman, who scored Hunter with his second sac fly of the game to give the Gophers an 8-1 lead. The Buckeyes got that run back in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Angle singled up the middle and went to second on a wild pitch. When Fornasiere could not come up with at short off the bat of Rabin, Angle ran home to pull within six runs, 8-2. Chlan, the Gopher second baseman, threw home trying to catch Angle at the plate, but the ball went over the catcher’s head and Rabin advanced to second, where he was stranded when Caravati struck out. Barker went 5.2 innings and allowed only one run on one hit. He struck out a pair but walked three.
Minnesota added a run in the ninth inning capitalizing on more Ohio State micues. Elder led off the inning with a single to left-center field, went to second on a throwing error on closer Trey Fausnaugh (So., Circleville, Ohio/Westfall), who tried to pick off Elder at first. Elder went to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a passed ball to go up 9-2.
Zoeller hit his team-best sixth home run of the year in the bottom of the ninth inning to make it a six-run game, 9-3. The home run cleared the right-field fence.
Loberg went the distance for his second complete game of the season to improve to 7-5 on the year. He allowed three runs, only one earned, on six hits. He struck out five and walked two. Minnesota scored more runs than had hits, 9-8, and each team had three errors. Ohio State had six walks in the game, two wild pitches and hit three batters.
After dropping the opening game of a series, the Buckeyes have come back to win the final three games twice this season, taking the final three games from Purdue and Indiana. Ohio State won only two of eight series openers in Big Ten play this season.
Ohio State and Minnesota continue the series Saturday with a doubleheader at 4:05 p.m. before concluding the series Sunday with a single game at 1:05 p.m. All three games will be broadcast by NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) and on the Internet at www.wosu.org.