PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – The one common theme in Ohio State’s first three games of the 2022 season was an aggressive offensive approach and timely run production, but in game four against BYU on Monday, the Buckeyes bats were outmatched for the first time. BYU took the lead on a two-out first inning grand slam and never trailed, continuing to add runs in the following innings on their way to a 9-6 win over the previously unbeaten Buckeyes.
Graduate transfer Aaron Funk made his Ohio State debut as the starter on Monday, but his outing would only last one inning. After inducing a ground ball out to the leadoff hitter, Funk allowed a double, a single, and a walk-in consecutive at-bats to load the bases. The Buckeyes had a chance to escape without damage after a fly-out by the next batter, but a two-out grand slam by Hayden Leatham broke the game open for BYU. Despite allowing singles to the next two batters, Funk escaped with no further damage, and Ohio State trailed 4-0 after the opening frame.
Wyatt Loncar entered in long relief for the Buckeyes, scattering 4 hits and two walks across 3.2 innings, striking out six and allowing four earned runs. In the bottom of the third, Ohio State was able to chip away at the lead by way of a three-run blast off the bat of Zach Dezenzo following singles by Brent Todys and Marcus Ernst. This made the score 6-3 after three, but in Loncar’s last inning, he allowed a single and a walk with two outs and was replaced by freshman Jake Johnson, who pitched two scoreless innings in the Buckeyes comeback win on Sunday. Johnson would give up a three-run home run to the first batter he faced, and Ohio State headed into the sixth inning down 9-3.
Both teams were held scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings. Junior Nate Karaffa came in and put together a solid outing, allowing only one hit across two scoreless innings for the Buckeyes. After a scoreless inning from sophomore Trent Jones, Ohio State looked poised to comeback from a large deficit for the second day in a row, scrapping together a three-run eighth inning rally that was aided by two errors and a wild pitch by the BYU defense. The score stood at 9-6 going into the ninth.
Junior Ethan Hammerberg took the mound in the ninth for Ohio State and silenced the BYU bats with a perfect inning to keep it a three-run game and give the home team one last chance to tie or win in the last at-bat. Colton Bauer struck first with a one-out double that fell when the BYU defender seemingly lost track of the ball in the Port Charlotte sun, and following a walk by Marcus Ernst, the Buckeyes brought the tying run to the plate. However, Zach Dezenzo struck out looking, and in the final at-bat of the game, Kade Kern went down swinging, ending the game and giving Ohio State a 9-6 loss.
Ohio State put together an impressive offensive display in their first weekend, scoring 39 runs in four games on their way to a 3-1 start to the season. The Buckeyes will travel to San Marcos, Texas for a three-game series with Texas State that begins on Friday night at 7:00 p.m., followed by games at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and the finale at 1:00 p.m. Sunday.