April 1, 2002
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Starter Nate Smith (Jr., Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) pitched a one-hitter through seven innings and was backed up by a solid offense as No. 21 cruised to a 9-2 victory Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium to claim the Big Ten opening series 3-1.
Smith’s bid at a no-hitter and a shutout was squashed on the first pitch of the sixth inning. Northwestern shortstop Jon Mikrut sent the pitch over the fence in right field to put Northwestern on the board, but that was all the Wildcats would get off Smith as he struck out the next batter and got two straight ground outs to get out of the inning. That hit was the only hit allowed by Smith, who was pulled after the seventh inning for E.J. Laratta (Sr., Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek).
Catcher Joe Wilkins (Sr., Grove City, Ohio/Dublin Scioto) sent a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-centerfield to add another three runs for the Buckeyes in the four-run fifth inning. It was his second home run of the year. That would be the end Finch, who was replaced by Andy Adams came in and got Doug Larason (So., Alexandria, Ohio/Johnstown) to fly out to end the inning. Finch got the loss to fall to 0-1 on the year.
In the first three games of the series, the Buckeyes fell behind Northwestern, but Sunday, Ohio State wasted little time putting runs on the board. Ohio State (15-5-1, 3-1 Big Ten) scored twice in the bottom of the first inning on a Doug Deeds (So., Bexley, Ohio/Bexley) home run over the fence in rightfield. Also scoring on the play was Brett Garrard (So., Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg), who had a base hit to shallow centerfield to lead off the inning. Ohio State added another two runs in the third inning. Deeds led off the inning with a double to left-centerfield and then two batters later Christian Snavely (So., Defiance, Ohio/Defiance) singled to rightfield. Northwestern rightfielder Brandon Ackley could not come up with the ball and Snavely advanced all the way to second on the error as Deeds was able to score. A sacrifice fly to right by Drew Anderson (Fr., Browsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) scored Snavely to give the Buckeyes a 4-0 lead.
The Scarlet and Gray took a commanding 8-0 lead by scoring another four runs in the fifth inning. Deeds reached on a fielder’s choice and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Northwestern pitcher Stanley Finch on a failed pick off attempt. A fly out by Nick Swisher (Jr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg) sent Deeds to third. Snavely singled to rightfield to score Deeds for the first run of the inning. Snavely moved to third on his fifth stolen base of the season and a wild pitch and then Wilkins’ three-run home run put the game completely out of reach for Northwestern (7-12, 1-3 Big Ten).
Smith pitched seven innings to get his second win of the year against no losses. He allowed just the one hit with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Laratta came into the game and allowed pinch hitter Dan Pohlman to double to left-centerfield to lead off the inning. Laratta then struck out Mikrut and got Eric Roeder to ground out. Steve Haake singled through the left side and then Laratta walked Mike Phelps to load the bases. Another walk scored Northwestern’s second run of the game, but pull within 8-2.
The home run was Wilkins only hit of the game in four at bats. Deeds finished the game 2-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored. Anderson was 0-for-2 but knocked in two runs for the Buckeyes on a sacrifice fly and a ground out.
Ohio State does not play again until next weekend when Penn State visits Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will play a single game at 6:35 on Friday, followed by a doubleheader Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and a single game on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.