Feb. 15, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Ohio State baseball team fell to Mercer, 6-5, in 10 innings in the Buckeyes’ 2013 season opener Friday evening at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.

After Mercer scored a run to take the lead in the top of the 10th, Ryan Cypret drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a foul out down the right-field line by Brad Hallberg before Mercer brought in Grant Papelian to face Mike Carroll with two down. Carroll singled up the middle but Mercer centerfielder Sasha Lagarde threw out a sliding Cypret at the plate to end the game.

“I thought we played a pretty good game of baseball, especially with our defense,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We had a couple of chances to make plays and we did that. I thought we had scrappy at-bats but we needed to take care of business late in the game and we didn’t but we need to move on and get ready for Notre Dame tomorrow.”

After a perfect top of the first from Ohio State starter Jaron Long, the Buckeyes took the lead in the bottom of the first when Kirby Pellant walked, stole second and third and scored on a one-out RBI groundout from Hallberg.

The Buckeyes added to the lead in the bottom of the second when Pat Porter drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a groundout by Greg Solomon and scored from second when Tim Wetzel struck out but reached on a passed ball by Mercer catcher David Reid-Foley.

A Nick Backlund double to left to lead off the fourth had Mercer in business but he was erased on a great throw by Jacob Bosiokovic when he tried to advance to third on a fly ball to left by Reid-Foley.

Long was cruising until he ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. After Lagarde and Backlund singled to put runners on first and second with two down, the junior walked Reid-Foley to load the bases before Austin Barrett singled through the left side to make it a 2-2 game and chase Long. Ryan Riga then came on and induced a come-backer to the mound to end the threat.

The Buckeyes bounced right back in the bottom of the sixth, plating three to take a 5-2 lead. Dimitri Kourtis pitched well in relief after Mercer starter David Randall left the game in the second inning with an apparent injury but the Bears’ right-hander ran into trouble in the sixth. Hallberg and Carroll each walked with one down but Bosiokovic fouled out before Morgan Pittman came on to relieve Kourtis. Porter then laced a single up the middle to plate Hallberg before Solomon doubled down the left-field line past a diving Nate Moorhouse to score Carroll and Porter for a 5-2 Buckeye advantage.

Mercer used an Ohio State error, a pinch-hit double by Logan Gaines, a hit batter and a two-out bases loaded walk to cut the lead to 5-3 in the seventh.

After Trace Dempsey pitched 1.2 scoreless frames, Brett McKinney came on to close it out in the ninth. The senior walked the first two batters he faced before making a great diving catch on a popped up sacrifice bunt attempt by Lagarde but Chesny Young followed with a two-run double down the left-field line to knot the score at 5-5. After an intentional walk put runners on first and second with one down, McKinney bounced back to strike out Reid-Foley and Barrett to send the game to the bottom of the ninth.

Porter singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Solomon but Wetzel lined out to third and Aaron Gretz, pinch-hitting for Craig Nennig, chopped one back to the mound as the game headed to extras.

Evan Boyd singled off McKinney to lead off the 10th, advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a chopper through the box by Michael Massi to give the Bears a 6-5 lead heading to the bottom of the 10th.

Porter went 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored while Carroll and Solomon added a hit apiece for the Buckeyes.

Long allowed two earned runs while striking out five in 5.2 innings pitched but did not factor in the decision. McKinney suffered the loss for the Buckeyes while David Teasley picked up the win for the Bears.

Ohio State takes on Notre Dame at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium.