COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State topped Michigan, 7-2, in the opener of a three-game set in front of 1,757 fans Friday evening at Bill Davis Stadium. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 17-18, 7-6 in the Big Ten while Michigan drops to 13-26, 6-7 in conference play. The victory also keeps the Buckeyes in a tie for third in the conference, a game back of Michigan State and Purdue.
“Our guys were ready to play today,” head coach Greg Beals said. “You could sense that. It was Michigan. Nothing more needs to be said. The guys were excited to play.”
Ohio State and Michigan will close the series with a doubleheader beginning at 3:05 p.m. Saturday because of the threat of rain moving into the Columbus area Sunday. Both games will be streamed live for free on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Michigan wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead in the first. Patrick Biondi led off the game by slapping a single into left-center off Buckeye starter Drew Rucinski. Kevin Crank then followed with a chopper to second that slipped under the glove of Ohio State second baseman Ryan Cypret, putting Wolverines at the corners with nobody out. Biondi then scored on a wild pitch before the Buckeye ace buckled down to fan the next three Wolverines to get out of the jam.
However, the Buckeyes and Josh Dezse answered back in a big way in the bottom half of the frame. After Brian DeLucia grounded out to lead off the inning, Tim Wetzel singled through the left side, Cypret walked and Dezse took Bobby Brosnahan’s pitch deep to right to give the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead on his third home run of the season.
“I watched the fireworks after the game but I liked the fireworks Dezse set off in the first inning,” Beals added. “The home run took the edge off and allowed Drew to settle in to the game.”
Ohio State then added to its lead with a run in the fourth. Cypret and Dezse recorded back-to-back two-out singles and Matt Streng knocked a single to left to drive in Cypret for the fourth Buckeye run of the game. Brad Hallberg then was hit by a pitch to load the bases and knock Brosnahan from the game. Right-hander Matt Gerbe came on in relief for the Wolverines and was able to get David Corna to ground out to third to end the Ohio State threat after minimal damage.
Dezse then drove home Cypret with a sacrifice fly to left after the Buckeye second baseman doubled down the right field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch to push the Ohio State lead to 5-1 after five.
After Rucinski breezed through the second through sixth frames, Michigan was able to cut the Buckeye lead to 5-2 in the seventh. Alex Lakatos led off the inning with a single to center, stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw by Buckeye catcher Greg Solomon. Anthony Toth then brought home Lakatos with a sacrifice fly to center. After a single by John Lorenz and a lineout to center by Cole Martin, Rucinski was lifted in favor of left-hander Andrew Armstrong. The redshirt junior then induced a ground ball fielder’s choice by Biondi to end the inning.
After a Tyler Engle single to lead off the bottom half of the inning, DeLucia drove a triple over the head of Biondi in deep center to drive home Engle and extend the Ohio State lead back to four at 6-2 after seven innings.
Ohio State tacked on one more in the eighth when Corna drove in Hallberg with his first career triple off the wall in right-center.
Jared Strayer and Dezse retired the last six Wolverines in order over the last two innings to close out the win.
Rucinski picked up the win to move to 5-1 on the season, tossing 6.2 innings, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned) while striking out seven. Dezse finished 2-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored while Cypret and Engle each recorded two-hit games.
– Ohio State men’s basketball national Freshman of the Year Jared Sullinger threw out the first pitch before Friday’s game.
– Dezse posted his team-high ninth multiple RBI game.
– Cypret and Dezse each recorded their 13th multi-hit game of the season to tie for the team lead.
– Every Buckeye starter reached base Friday night.
– Ohio State improved to 4-1 in the opening game of a Big Ten series this season.
– Rucinski lowered his Big Ten-leading ERA to 2.11.
– The two highest strikeout games of Rucinski’s career have now both come against the Wolverines. He struck out a career-high nine in a complete game win May 1, 2010 in Ann Arbor. He moves to 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20.1 innings pitched in his career against the Wolverines.
– Rucinski has given up two earned runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts this season and one earned or fewer in six of those contests.