May 16, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to fight back from a 3-1 deficit and clinch the Big Ten series with a 7-3 victory over Northwestern Sunday in front of 3,005 fans at Bill Davis Stadium. The win improved the Buckeyes to 31-20 overall and 18-10 in the Big Ten and earned the team a berth into the six-team Big Ten Tournament, May 26-30.
Ohio State used three hits and a pair of Northwestern errors for the five spot in the sixth to move in front. Brett Garrard (Sr., Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led off with a double down the right-field line. Paul Farinacci (Jr., Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura) grounded to first, but an error on first baseman Mark Ori allowed Garrard to reach third. Ronnie Bourquin (Fr., Canton, Ohio/Canton South) singled to left-center field to knock in Garrard and make it 3-2 game before a walk by Mike Rabin (Jr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) loaded the bases.
Derek Kinnear (Sr., Kenton, Ohio/Kenton) skied a shot to left field, but Anthony Wycklendt dropped the ball, though Farinacci was still able to score on the sacrifice to tie the game, 3-3. After a strikeout for the first out of the inning, a two-run single to right by Jacob Howell (Fr., Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) gave Ohio State a 5-3 lead. Adam Schneider (Fr., Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) drove in the fifth run of the inning, scoring Kinnear on a sacrifice fly to center. Northwestern committed two more errors in the seventh inning and the Buckeyes were able to convert the miscue into another run. For the second at bat in a row, Farinacci boarded on an error, this time on shortstop Jon Mikrut. Farinacci moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt as pitcher Dan Pohlman threw past Ori at first. Kinnear came through with a two-out single to center to plate Farinacci, who had moved to third on a ground out by Bourquin.
Garrard doubled to score Kris Moorman (Fr., St. Henry, Ohio/St. Henry), who came in to pinch run for Schneider, who reached on a fielder’s choice. That was the eighth run of the game.
Northwestern added its fourth run of the game in the top of the ninth on a single down the left-field line by Josh Lieberman.
Caravati was the offensive star in the game, going a perfect 4-for-4 in the game with one RBI. He finished the series 11-for-14 (.786) with six RBI and was 13-for-18 (.722) in the five games this week, including the 4-3 win over Akron last Wednesday. Garrard was 3-for-5 in the Northwestern finale, while Anderson, Howell, and Bourquin each had two of the Buckeyes’ 15 total hits. Howell and Kinnear each batted in two.
Northwestern made the Buckeyes work for the victory after it sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Caleb Fields led off with a single and was bunted over on a sacrifice by Matt Brimmer. After a fly out by Josh Lieberman, Jon Mikrut doubled to right-center field to knock in Fields and give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. OSU starter Jeffrey Carroll (Fr., Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson) walked Ori and then hit Pohlman to load the bases for Wycklendt, who scored two more with a single to left field.
Caravati drove in the Buckeyes’ first run of the game in the third inning. Drew Anderson (Jr., Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) got things started with a two-out single before reaching third on a single to right-center by Jacob Howell (Fr., Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) before scoring on Caravati’s single through the left side.
Brett Hatcher (Jr., Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) came in to relieve Carroll to start the sixth inning, trailing 3-1. Hatcher got Jason Krynski to ground out before a pair of strikeouts ended the inning. Hatcher benefited from the Buckeyes’ big inning to improve to 3-0 on the year. Northwestern starter Dan Konecny got the loss to fall to 4-8 on the season. Trey Fausnaugh (Fr., Circleville, Ohio/Westfall) pitched the final two innings of the game.
Northwestern (23-26-1 overall, 12-16 Big Ten) had 11 hits in the game, but could not overcome four errors.
Ohio State will be no worse than one game behind first-place Minnesota as the Golden Gophers lost their first game of a doubleheader 6-5 at Illinois. Minnesota would remain one game ahead of the Buckeyes with a win in the nightcap, but a loss would put the teams in a first-place tie heading into next weekend’s series between the schools in Minneapolis, Minn.
Up next for the Buckeyes, however, is the final home game of the regular season, Wednesday, when they welcome Cleveland State to Bill Davis Stadium at 6:35 p.m.