COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tim Wetzel drove in Tyler Engle for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth and Ohio State evened the series with Michigan State at a game apiece with a 9-8 win on a rainy and windy Saturday afternoon at Bill Davis Stadium. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 14-15 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten while Michigan State drops to 22-9, 6-2 in conference play.
Spartan pinch-hitter Andy Johnson was hit by a pitch with one down in the top of the ninth but, after Jared Strayer induced a foul pop out, pinch-runner Grant Newsome was thrown out trying to steal second base when Ryan Cypret made a beautiful pick on a low throw by Greg Solomon and lunged to tag Newsome out before he could reach the base.
For the second consecutive game in this series, the game was tied or had a lead change six times. Ohio State out-hit the Spartans, 16-9, with eight Buckeyes getting a hit and seven having at least two hits.
Corna had three hits for Ohio State while Brian DeLucia, Wetzel, Cypret, Josh Dezse, Brad Hallberg and Engle each had two apiece.
“I have to give our guys credit because we’ve had our share of hits,” head coach Greg Beals said. “Last night we didn’t get the big hit and today we did. We have been trying to do a little too much in big situations and today we relaxed and were able to get the job done.”
The relief pitchers came in and, in four innings pitched, gave up just one earned run and only two hits. Andrew Armstrong picked up the win in relief for the Buckeyes while Strayer earned his second save of the season.
The Spartans got to Ohio State starter Brett McKinney early for four runs in the first. Brandon Eckerle doubled to lead off the game, Ryan Jones was hit by a pitch and Jeff Holm loaded the bases with a walk. Cleanup man Torsten Boss then took McKinney deep to right-center for a grand slam and a 4-0 Michigan State lead.
The Buckeyes were able to answer back with a run in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Cypret singled deep in the hole between short and third and scored when Josh Dezse lined a shot off the top of the wall in left-center for a double.
Ohio State then tied it with three more runs in the second. Brad Hallberg singled to center to lead off the inning and David Corna and Matt Streng followed with back-to-back doubles. After a sacrifice bunt by Engle, Brian DeLucia lined a ball to the warning track in right-center but Eckerle was able to make an excellent diving catch as Streng scored on the sacrifice fly and evened the score at 4.
The Spartans then regained the lead with three in the top of the fourth. Jeff Kinley singled with one out and scored on Jones’ two-out RBI single. After a walk by Holm, Corna was unable to come up with a pop up off the bat of Boss and two more unearned runs scored.
However, Ohio State responded with four of their own in the bottom of the fourth to take an 8-7 lead of its own. Engle doubled with one down to drive in Hallberg, DeLucia followed with a two-run single to bring home Streng and Engle and Cypret singled through the left side with two down to score DeLucia for the go-ahead run.
Back-to-back singles by Eckerle and Jones, followed by a double play ball by Holm to score Eckerle evened the game at 8 once again in the top of the sixth before the Buckeyes took the lead for good two innings later.