March 8, 2014
EUGENE, Ore. – Behind a complete game shutout from junior left-hander Ryan Riga, Ohio State evened its series with a 5-0 win over No. 9 Oregon Saturday evening at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 8-4 on the season while the Ducks fall to 11-4.
“Bouncing back from last night really wasn’t an option with the character this ball club,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “They wouldn’t let each other hang their heads and we realized that we gave them a lot of help last night. We had two great pitchers go at it tonight and I loved what Riga did. It doesn’t get any better than a nine-inning shutout, striking out 10 and he was dominant today.”
Oregon threatened against Riga in the bottom of the first. Aaron Payne reached on a bunt single before a pair of errors on a failed pickoff play moved the Oregon second baseman to third base with nobody out. Austin Grebeck then bunted a ball off himself as he was getting out of the box for the first out of the inning, Tyler Baumgartner followed with a fielder’s choice as Payne was cut down at the plate and Mitchell Tolman grounded out to first to end the inning as Riga got out of a jam in the bottom of the first.
The Buckeyes put together a rally in the top of the third against Oregon starter Matt Krook when a pair of walks and a wild pitch but runners on second and third with one down. However, the freshman left-hander bounced back to strike out Jacob Bosiokovic and Pat Porter to keep the game scoreless.
Things stayed quiet until the Buckeyes took the lead in the top of the sixth. Krook walked Ronnie Dawson with one out before he was pulled in favor of right-hander Trent Paddon. Ryan Leffel, getting his first-career start at first base, then followed with a double down the left-field line to score Dawson for the 1-0 Ohio State lead.
Riga continued to put zeroes up on the board but the Ducks threatened to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. After the left-hander retired the first two batters of the inning, Payne doubled over the first base bag but Riga bounced back to get Grebeck to ground out to first to preserve the 1-0 Buckeye advantage.
After Garrett Cleavinger came on for the Ducks to open the ninth, the left-hander walked Connor Sabanosh before a single by Tim Wetzel forced Oregon to go to their closer, Jake Reed. A failed pickoff attempt by Oregon substitute catcher Shaun Chase then moved Sabanosh to third as Ohio State put runners at the corners and nobody out for Troy Kuhn, who singled through the left side to plate the Buckeye backstop for a 2-0 lead.
After a sacrifice bunt by Bosiokovic and an intentional walk to Porter loaded the bases with one down, Ohio State continued to add to its lead. Troy Montgomery singled through the left side to score Wetzel, Dawson legged out an infield single to plate Kuhn and Leffel was hit by a pitch to score Porter and push the Ohio State lead to 5-0.
Riga then pitched around a hit batter and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, capping the night with a strikeout of A.J. Balta, his career-high 10th of the game, for the complete game shutout.
The junior left-hander was brilliant, scattering five hits while walking one to improve to 2-0 on the season. Kuhn finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Leffel went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
“Everything was working for me tonight,” Riga said about his performance. “I was able to throw everything for strikes against righties and lefties. It was a good day but we need to come back out tomorrow and finish this off.”
The Buckeyes look for the series win at 3:05 p.m. ET Sunday at PK Park.
– Porter has reached base safely in every game this season after getting intentionally walked in the ninth inning.
– The Buckeyes walked a season-high 10 times.
– The complete game shutout by Riga was the first by a Buckeye since exactly a year ago today. Jaron Long tossed a three-hit shutout in an 11-0 win over Harvard March 8 of last season in Myrtle Beach, N.C.
– Riga’s 10-strikeout game was the first double-digit strikeout game since Brad Goldberg struck out 10 in 6.1 hitless innings in a win over Mount St. Mary’s Feb. 23, 2013.
– Leffel made his first-career start at first base after starting three games at third base as a freshman.
– Wetzel has reached base safely in six-consecutive contests.