FRESNO, Calif. – Wow! What a game. Ohio State had the No. 10 team in the nation on the ropes into the eighth inning, but the Fresno State Bulldogs, now 15-2 on the year, rallied for two two-out runs in the eighth to record a 3-2 comeback win over the Buckeyes (6-8) Tuesday night at Pete Beiden Field.

The Bulldogs, enjoying their highest national ranking since they won the College World Series three years ago, scored the tying run on a single, a balk call by the first base ump on Josh Dezse before his first pitch in relief, and another single up the middle.

Then the home team scored the winning run after a stolen base and a single…the single coming after everyone in Scarlet and Gray thought Dezse had backward “K’d” Austin Wynns. But Dezse and the Buckeyes didn’t get the call. Next pitch, Wynns singled and Aaron Judge was called safe at home despite a terrific throw to the plate from Brian DeLucia and despite his spikes ripping through the pants of catcher Greg Solomon near the thigh area as Solomon covered the plate.

Both teams received terrific pitching in a strategic game that featured eight pitching changes, four on each side. Cody Kendall improved to 2-0 with the win after pitching 1.1 innings in relief. Closer Charlie Robertson pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in eight appearances.

Ohio State starter Brett McKinney was very good, pitching 3.2 innings, scattering five hits and allowing just one earned run. He was relieved by Andrew Armstrong, who pitched 1.1 innings of one-hit baseball and who slammed the door on a bases loaded situation in the fifth by throwing nothing but strikes to get out of the inning.

David Fathalikhani didn’t allow a run in two-thirds of an inning and Theron Minium was lights out in his 2.0 innings, including getting out of a jam in the sixth with runners on second and third, and retiring the first six batters he faced. Dezse took the loss and had his record evened at 1-1.

Ohio State was in this game to win it from the very beginning, getting hits in seven of the nine innings, but the team stranded 10 runners. Included was leaving Ryan Cypret at third after one-out triple in the first – extending his hitting streak to 13 games, leaving Dezse at third in the sixth and leaving the bases loaded in the seventh.

But, oh my there were some O-H-I-O moments in this game as well. Like when Ohio State tied the score in the third on a double by Solomon, a sac bunt by Jacob Hayes and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Engle.

And when Ohio State took the lead in the eighth, 2-1, with a two-out rally. Brad Hallberg singled, hustled to third on a David Corna single and scored after a terrific bunt single by Solomon.

And defensively when Corna nailed a runner at the plate in the bottom of the third with a laser from right to Solomon to end the inning with the score tied, 1-1.    

Seven different Buckeyes had hits, a pleasant sign after the team had just eight combined in the two losses to California on Sunday. Corna, Solomon and Matt Streng had two hits apiece, including team-high fifth doubles of the season for Corna and Solomon.

The two teams will wrap up the series with a 6 p.m. (PDT) game Wednesday.

Random Thoughts from High Above Pete Beiden Stadium:

  • Head coach Greg Beals did not coach the team Tuesday. After the California games Sunday he flew to upper New York state to be with his wife, Kathy, their daughters and extended family for the funeral of Kathy’s father, Patrick Carroll. A longtime high school basketball official, Mr. Carroll was laid to rest Tuesday. Beals, Kathy and the family were in the team’s thoughts today.
  • Taking over in Beals’ place was pitching coach Mike Stafford, a former Buckeye who was calm, collected and cool enough all day that one didn’t know he was about to experience a rather meaningful moment in his coaching career: head coach for a day at his alma mater.
  • Last time a Buckeye graduate coached the team: May 10, 1987; Dick Finn’s last game as Ohio State coach…vs. Indiana.
  • Beiden Stadium is a fine, fine structure with 3,500 chair-back seats and a nice-sized press box. The huge backstop is artificial turf with the rest of the field natural grass.
  • Jacob Hayes made his first collegiate start today…in left field.
  • Can’t remember the last time tasting an Orange Crush soda pop, but the press box served it and my-oh-my that stuff is orangy tasting…and delicious.
  • Weather conditions were chilly in Fresno, and windy, too, high up in the press box. That chill still didn’t stop some press boxers from three of those icy orange “crushers.”