COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State fell behind Michigan, 5-0, early on, battled hard offensively and defensively the rest of the way but could not recover enough of the deficit in losing the third game of the series with Michigan, 6-5, Sunday before a crowd of 1,766 at Ray Fisher Stadium.

The Buckeyes, who won a dramatic 3-2 extra inning affair Saturday to climb back into a tie for first place in the Big Ten Conference, now drop a game behind Michigan in a tight Big Ten race with an 8-7 record. The team is 24-15 overall. Michigan improves to 27-15 and 9-6 in the Big Ten.

For the third consecutive game, the Buckeyes received outstanding work from its corps of relievers. Today, Theron Minium, Jared Strayer and Eric Best combined to pitch 5.0 innings and allow just two hits and one run. The trio struck out four and walked just one.

Offensively, the team was led by Dan Burkhart’s four-hit day, three hits and three RBI from Michael Stephens and three runs scored by Cory Kovanda.

Ohio State starter Brett McKinney (3-4) went 3.0 innings in his first Big Ten start and took the loss. He had his hitless streak of 6.2 innings snapped – going back to his Wednesday start vs. Marshall – in the second inning when Mike Dufek doubled to center in a scoreless game. One batter later the Wolverines had a 2-0 lead as Nick Urban went opposite field for his second home run of the season.

Michigan tacked on three more runs off three hits in the third inning to build a 5-0 lead.

Ohio State scored a run in the fourth as Kovanda opened with a single and moved to third on the first of Burkhart’s two doubles, this one down the right field line. A Ryan Dew ground out brought home Kovanda.

McKinney was pulled in the fourth after giving up two walks to open the inning. Minium came into the game with nobody out and men on first and third. He got a strikeout and then a 1-6-3 double play grounder to end the Michigan threat. He then faced the minimum in the fifth before allowing a solo home run in the sixth, the only blemish on his 3.0 innings of work.

The Buckeyes finally got to Michigan starter Brandon Sinnery (4-0) in the sixth. Burkhart drilled a one-out double and Stephens followed with a single.  Another Dew ground out to the right side brought home Burkhart to make the score 5-2.

Ohio State brought the tying run to the plate for a second consecutive inning in the seventh. Now trailing 6-2, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two outs, thanks to three walks by reliever Bobby Brosnahan.  Stephens stroked a two-strike single to center to score two and get the Buckeyes to within two at 6-4.

Zach Hurley then opened the ninth with a single. Kovanda reached on a fielder’s choice and Burkhart singled him over to third. Stephens drove Kovanda home again with a single up the middle making the score, 6-5. But with men on second and third, reliever Tyler Burgoon threw a double play ball to end the game.

A Few More Game & Series Notes…

  • A tremendous performance from the Ohio State pitchers this weekend, who were shuffled about with the injury to Alex Wimmers and stepped up to the challenge. They limited the Wolverines to a .220 batting average and a 4.15 ERA for the series.
  • Special mention goes to the relief corps. In the three games the relievers pitched 13.0 innings and allowed just five hits and two runs with eight strikeouts and only two walks. The reliever’s combined ERA was 1.30 for the series.
  • Team batting average was .233 for the series, with Dan Burkhart (.636; 7-for-11) and Michael Stephens (.429; 6-for-14 with three RBI) leading the way.
  • Replays on the Big Ten Network of Games 2 and 3 between Ohio State and Michigan will be at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and at 6 a.m. Wednesday. There is no indication on of which game will be aired in those time slots.
  • A party of 35 Buckeye fans came in from Bryan, Ohio – a two-hour drive – to cheer on the Buckeyes Sunday. The group was celebrating a birthday for a member of an 8-and-under youth baseball team.
  • The Buckeyes have their first Tuesday game during the conference season this week. The Buckeyes will host the 37-6 and 11th-ranked Louisville Cardinals Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The two-game series will conclude Wednesday with a 2 p.m. first pitch at Bill Davis Stadium.
  • The game with Louisville will be replayed on the Big Ten Network at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning and again at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
  • The Louisville games start a season-long six-game home stretch of games. Illinois comes to town for a key weekend series and then the Buckeyes will entertain Ball State next Wednesday (May 12) in a 6:35 p.m. game.
  • The annual Buckeye Diamond Club cookout will be held this Saturday, May 8th, starting at 12 noon on the terrace of the baseball offices at Bill Davis Stadium. Tickets for the game for Diamond Club members will be available at the Ticket Booth outside the main gate. Game time is 1:05.