PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – All teams have their sights set on No. 16 Ohio State, but the Buckeyes can play some defense, they have offensive weapons and they can get pitching when it is needed. For the fourth time at the Snowbird Classic, Ohio State found itself in a dogfight and, despite losing a 5-0 lead, rallied to claim a 15-8 win over Fairleigh Dickinson to cap a 3-1 weekend and improve to 8-2 on the season.

In a game that featured 18 Buckeye hits, including five more by Zach Hurley – he had 12 hits for the four-game weekend and hit .571, four hits and four RBI by Ryan Dew, and three hits by two additional hot Buckeyes, it was actually a handful of key defensive plays that really contributed to this win. Among them:

  • Tied at 6-apiece with men on second and third in the fifth, first-baseman Matt Streng fielded a hard hit ball behind the bag but made a perfect throw to the plate to nail the runner.
  • Also in the fifth, centerfielder Chris Griffin missed on a diving attempt with two on, but he recovered to chase down the ball at the fence and hit Tyler Engle above second base. Engle relayed the ball to catcher Dan Burkhart who applied the tag to batter Ryan Kresky when he overran the plate. Kresky was trying to stretch a triple to an inside-the-park home run.
  • In the sixth with two on and nobody out, Cory Kovanda soared to spear a line drive. He hustled the ball to Engle waiting at second to double up the runner and end what looked to be a serious threat.
  • Griffin went to the fence in deep centerfield to calmly secure a well-hit ball in the seventh and with Ohio State clinging to an 8-7 lead.
  • And with a run already in and a man on second in the eighth, Engle dove to his left to snap a line drive out of the air.

The Buckeyes, coming off a 38-hit Saturday in its doubleheader with Saint Louis, pounced on Knights starter Ashley Bullock in their first at-bat. The team staked first-time 2010 starter Eric Best to a 5-0 lead with a three-hit-two-walk inning that included a two-RBI single from Ryan Dew and a three-run bomb to right from Brian DeLucia.

Best, coming off a summertime surgery, was held to a pitch count and he went 3.0 innings and left with a 6-2 lead. He gave up four hits and two runs while walking two and striking out three.

Reliever Brian Bobinsky gave up a hit to his first batter, but ended up with a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a textbook, 6-4-3 double play in the fourth. He got in trouble in the fifth, though, giving up five runs off five hits as the Knights took a 7-6 lead. This inning ended with Kresky getting thrown out at the plate.

Bobinski, a transfer from Xavier who made the team in the fall as a walk-on, settled down though, and ended up pitching 4.0 innings to pick up his first win in a Buckeye uniform. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two in just his second Ohio State appearance.

Ohio State reclaimed the lead with a two-run fifth inning; Hurley and Cory Kovanda had the RBI singles to give Ohio State the lead for good. A six-run seventh inning that included a two-run single by Ryan Dew and Hurley’s fifth hit of the game put the game out of reach.

Hurley, who ripped five doubles, a triple and a home run and had six runs scored and seven RBI, was not alone in the sizzling-at-the-plate department. Kovanda led the team with a .583 average that included six runs scored and four RBI. Three more Buckeyes hit at least .500: DeLucia (.526 with a team-high eight RBI off two doubles, a triple and a home run); Cory Rupert (.500 with four runs scored); and Ryan dew (.500 with five runs and seven RBI). Additionally, Matt Streng hit .421 with five RBI. 

Notes & Random Thoughts While With the Team:

  • Michael Stephens was held out of a third consecutive game due to soreness.
  • Hurley slugged at a 1.048 clip this weekend.
  • The team had 13 doubles, three triples and three home runs this weekend.
  • A special thanks goes out to longtime Big Ten – and now retired – umpire Steve Partington and his wife, Shannon, residents now of Port Charlotte and the organizers of the 2010 Snowbird Classic. They, along with their daughter, Rebecca, ran a terrific tournament with merchandise sales, tasty eats, hot, hot chocolate for the cool evenings and enough volunteer help to assure outstanding service for all the teams.
  • No less than four Ohio State alumni associations or groups were a part of the weekend, including the Sarasota-Manatee Ohio State Alumni Club, the Rotonda West Buckeye Club, the North Port Buckeyes Fan Club and the OSU Alumni Club of Broward County.
  • Very impressive, too, that Charlotte County Parks& Recreation, the Charlotte County Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Charlotte County Commissioners supported and assisted with the Classic.
  • The above were responsible for the outstanding spread of snacks after the Duquesne game Friday and they also provided the between-game snacks for both Ohio State and Saint Louis teams Saturday. The entire Ohio State travelling party sends a big “Thank You” to all those who gave their time, effort and funding to making this Classic a success.
  • Must mention the superb mixing and remixing of tunes and audio highlights from dee-jay and public address announcer Dave “The Beach Bum” Conrad, a local talent from Springhill, Fla. Dave kept the crowds entertained, guessing with his contests and alive the entire weekend. His endless list of songs and mixes spanned the 1950s to today. Somehow and somewhere he even found and played what sounded like Perry Como covering the dark Metallica hit “Enter Sandman.”
  • Rick Klassman, a Buckeye baseball letterman from 1980-82, was at the game today. His daughter will be a freshman at Ohio State next fall.
  • Bees. Don’t mess with them and they won’t mess back. There were a few bees hanging around the ball park this weekend.