May 28, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Ohio State fought back from a 6-3 hole to tie the game at six and then scored nine runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to hand Minnesota a 15-6 loss Friday at Illinois Field to move to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament which will be played Saturday at 8:05 p.m., EDT. The appearance in the tournament final will be the Buckeyes’ fourth straight. Ohio State won the tournament in 2002 and 2003 and was the runnerup last season. The fifth-seed has never won the Big Ten tournament.
The Buckeyes scored two in the third and another in the sixth to tie the game 6-6, before exploding for nine runs in the seventh, the biggest hit a two-run home run by Steve Caravati (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) to cap the scoring. He led off the inning with an infield single, his third hit of the game and then scored on a double by Adam Schneider (So., Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura). Wes Schirtzinger (So., Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) came in to pinch run for Schneider, who had hit for the fourth straight time with his third double of the game. At the time, the Buckeyes were in a heavyweight fight and needed every run they could get in a game where the teams were exchanging punches.
Ronnie Bourquin (So., Canton, Ohio/Canton South) followed with a single through the left side to put runners at the corders. That prompted a pitching change. Gary Perinar replaced starter Brian Bull, but Perinar hit both Jason Zoeller (So., Verona, Pa./Shady Side Academy), to load the bases, and Jedidiah Stephen (Jr., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah), to score the second run of the inning and give Ohio State a two-run lead. That prompted another pitching change. This time Andy Peters replaced Perinar, but he walked in Bourquin. Eric Fryer (Fr., Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) doubled down the left-field line to score both Zoeller and Stephen before Matt Angle (Fr., Whitehall, Ohio/Whitehall-Yearling) singled in Farinacci. A sacrifice fly by Mike Rabin (Sr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) scored Fryer to give the Buckeyes a 13-6 lead and then, off the fourth Gopher pitcher of the game, Tim Theis, Caravati sent a shot out of park in left-center field. It was his second home run of the tournament and his fourth of the season.
Caravati finished a perfect 4-for-4 with three RBI and scored four times, while Schneider also went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Caravati had one single, two doubles and a home run, while Schneider had one single to go with three doubles. Fryer was 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Angle and Bourquin each had two hits as the Buckeyes slugged out 18 hits compared to 14 by Minnesota. Caravati is 10-for-14 in the three games of the tournament with four doubles, one home run, three RBI and five runs scored.
Ohio State had four errors in the game, but over came three early errors and a shaky beginning by starter Trent Luyster (Sr., Flushing, Ohio/Harrison Central), who gave up six runs on eight hits to start the game. Luyster settled down and allowed only six hits the rest of the way in the second straight complete-game outing by an Ohio State pitcher. He went the distance for the first time this season and allowed the six runs (four earned) on 14 hits while only striking out two and walking one to improve to 7-3 on the season. Mike Madsen (Sr., Canfield, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) went the distance in the 6-5 win Thursday over Purdue.
The Buckeyes have used only four starters in the three games of the tournament and have not had to use relievers Jeffrey Carroll (So., Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson), Trey Fausnaugh (So., Circleville, Ohio/Westfall) or Brett Hatcher (Sr., Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine). And Luyster’s complete game allowed closer Rory Meister (Fr., Mansfield, Ohio/Mansfield Madison) an extra day to rest after throwing more than 90 pitches in a relief outing in the 7-3, 13-inning victory over Michigan to open the tournament on Wednesday.
Minnesota wasted little time in scoring the first two runs of the game, capitalizing on a lead-off single to right-center by Luke MacLean in the top of the first. David Hrncirik sent him to second with a sacrifice bunt and he went to third on a ground out. Andy Hunter singled through the left side to score MacLean for the first run of the game. Kevin Carlson doubled over the head of centerfielder and that plated Hunter from first for the early two-run lead.
Ohio State answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Rabin reached on an infield single with one out and scored on a double to right-center field by Caravati. Caravati was able to get to third when Minnesota centerfielder Tony Leseman. He scored on a double by designated hitter Schneider. Schneider scored on a single up the middle by Bourquin to give the Buckeyes a 3-2 lead.
The Golden Gophers scored twice more in the second to reclaim the lead 4-3. Leseman led off with a single to left-center field and stole second he moved to third on a ground out before scoring on a single through the right side by MacLean. Back-to-back errors by the left side of the infield allowed MacLean to give Minnesota a one-run lead. Stephen committed the first error that moved MacLean to second and then Bourquin could not come up with a ground that allowed MacLean to score when the ball sailed down the left-field line.
Minnesota shortstop Joe Maciej singled up the middle to yield two more runs in the third to build a 6-3 advantage. Mike Mee singled up the middle with one out and then went to third when Leseman singled to left and Caravati misplayed the ball. That allowed Leseman to reach second and put runners at second and third for Maciej.
The Buckeyes again answered with two more runs in the third to make it a one-run game, 6-5. Caravati drew a walk to lead off the inning and went to third on the second double of the game by Schneider before scoring on a ground out by Bourquin that also sent Schneider to third. He was not sent on a fly out to right, but Stephen tripled down the right-field line, but was stranded when right fielder Mike Mee robbed Paul Farinacci (Sr., Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura) with a diving catch.
After leaving runners at the corners with no one out in the fifth inning, the Buckeyes were determined to even the score in the sixth when Farinacci reached third base without an out. The Ohio State first baseman beat out an infield single and then reached third on a pair of wild pitches. Fryer struck out swimming, but Angle grounded out to second, enabling Farinacci to tie the score at six.
In earlier action Friday, No. 2 seed Purdue eliminated No. 4 Michigan 9-7 and then eliminated No. 1 seed Illinois 4-3 in 11 innings. Purdue and No. 6 seed Minnesota meet in an elimination game Saturday at 4:35 p.m. and the winner of that game will play Ohio State Saturday at 8:05 p.m. for the championship. The winner of the elimination game would have to beat the Buckeyes twice to win the championship.
The second championship game, if necessary, will be played Sunday at 1:05 p.m. All of Ohio State’s postseason games will be broadcast on NPR 820 (WOSU-AM) and on the Internet at www.wosu.org. The championship games will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by CSTV. The first championship game will be broadcast Monday at 7 p.m., EDT and the second championship game, if played, would be broadcast Monday at 10 p.m., EDT.