March 8, 2020

Smith Strong in 8-3 Victory over Fairfield


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DeLAND, Fla. – The Ohio State baseball team scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to top Fairfield, 8-3, Sunday night at Melching Field. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 5-7 on the year while the Stags drop to 1-8.

The Buckeyes travel to Jacksonville for two more games in the Sunshine State against North Florida at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday and 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.

“Griffan (Smith) had another really solid start where he was able to hit his pitch count while commanding the game,” Greg Beals, Ohio State head coach, said. “We did what we needed to do offensively. The bullpen needs to be cleaner because we helped them out quite a bit. I liked how we were able to bounce right back after they tied it up. We showed some resolve, taking a bunch from them and throwing the next punch.”

After Fairfield starter Michael Sansone held the Buckeyes hitless through the first four innings, Ohio State plated three against the left-hander in the fifth. Nate Karaffa opened the inning with a bunt single down the third-base line before Colton Bauer drove him in with a double to left. Nolan Clegg followed with a single through the left side before stealing second to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Nick Erwin then lined a sacrifice fly to center to score Bauer and Sam Wilson doubled to left to plate Clegg for the 3-0 Ohio State lead.

Ohio State starter Griffan Smith put together his second-consecutive quality outing, keeping the Stags off-balance through 5.2 scoreless frames. The junior left-hander allowed four hits and walked a pair but struck out five before departing with two down in the sixth.

Right-hander Joe Gahm then came on in relief of Smith with runners on first and second, inducing an inning-ending fielder’s choice to get out of the jam.

After TJ Brock came on to relieve Gahm, getting the final out of the seventh, Fairfield plated three in the eighth. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with one down before right-hander Bayden Root came on for Brock. Root hit Eric Cerno to plate Mike Handal for the Stags’ first run of the game. After Root fanned pinch-hitter Dylan Reynolds, Mike Caruso walked to score Justin Guerrera and pinch-hitter Nick Esposito singled through the left side, scoring Matt Venuto with the tying run.

After Eli Oliphant came on with the game tied at 3-3, the Buckeyes responded by regaining the lead with a five-run bottom half. Dillon Dingler singled through the left side and Brent Todys doubled down the left-field line before Todys was lifted for pinch-runner Aaron Hughes and Conner Pohl was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out. A fielder’s choice by Zach Dezenzo scored Dingler before a single to right by Karaffa plated Hughes.

Oliphant was able to strike out Bauer for the first out of the inning but an infield single by Clegg scored Pohl before Erwin singled up the middle to plate Dezenzo and, after Oliphant was lifted for left-hander Tristan Armone, a sacrifice fly to right by Wilson scored Karaffa to cap the five-run inning.

Left-hander Patrick Murphy came on for the ninth and hit Mike Becchetti to open the inning but followed with strikeouts of Handal and Guerrera. Murphy then walked Dan Ryan and Charlie Pagliaraini but bounced back to induce a game-ending fielder’s choice as the Buckeyes picked up the win.

– Wilson and Bauer each tallied their first double in a Buckeye uniform.
– Clegg and Karaffa each posted their second-consecutive multi-hit game.
– Pohl extended his reached-base streak to a team-high 11 games.
– Root picked up his first win of the year, tossing 0.2 scoreless innings.
– Over his last two starts, Smith has allowed just one earned run on 10 hits while striking out 10 in 11.2 innings pitched.
– Clegg finished the weekend 5-for-10 with three doubles, two runs scored and an RBI while Dingler went 5-for-11 with two doubles, a home run, four runs scored and three RBI.