Defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes win league opener

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder was walked three times, then crushed a game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Buckeyes walked off with the win five batters later when senior Liz Caputo singled to left field for a 4-3 win over Iowa in No. 22 Ohio State’s Big Ten opener Friday night at Buckeye Field.

Defending Big Ten champion Ohio State improves to 22-6 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, while Iowa falls to 20-11 and 0-1. The two teams will meet again at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Marder, the nation’s RBI leader and on the player of the year watch list, was walked intentionally her first two times to the plate and was walked on four pitches her third time up. Iowa scored twice in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 lead and Marder led off the bottom of the seventh. She fouled off the first pitch an indication that Iowa junior Brittany Weil was finally going to pitch to her and then Marder took a ball outside to even the count at 1-and-1.

Weil’s next offering was down the middle around the knees and Marder connected for a line drive that seemed to start out low but continue to rise all the way until it hit the pine trees beyond the centerfield wall. It marked her 10th home run of the season and 41st run batted in. 

“I swear it was four feet off the ground until it got to the fence and then it just kept lifting,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “Sam is an incredible player. Obviously they pitched around her the whole game and decided to go at her that time and we were prepared for that. It takes a whole team, but the big thing there was Caputo coming through. You need your seniors to do that. ”

With the game now tied, 3-3, OSU sophomore Tory Haddad was hit by a pitch and freshman Karisa Medrano singled deep into the hole between third base and the shortstop to put runners at first and third with no out. A passed ball sent pinch-runner Rebecca Schultz and Medrano to third and second, respectively, but Schultz was thrown out at the plate on a grounder hit to second by freshman Rachael Shepherd.

Medrano went to third on the play, though, and Caputo stepped to the plate with two outs. She lofted a fly ball to shallow left-centerfield and Iowa centerfielder Lindsey Digmann had the ball hit off her glove as she dove to try to make the catch. Medrano scampered home and the Buckeyes swarmed her at the plate.

It marked Ohio State’s fifth come-from-behind win of the season and fourth walk-off victory. The Buckeyes did not commit an error defensively for the first time in 10 games.

“We left a lot of runners on base and in scoring position early and I thought as the game wore on that gave Iowa some momentum,” Kalafatis said. “They had some big hits in that seventh inning to pull ahead and it’s just a credit to our team for how much they fight and their will to win.”

Ohio State junior Kim Reeder pitched into the seventh inning, getting all but the final Iowa out of the game. She struck out three in 6.2 innings of work, allowing five hits and three runs. Iowa hit back-to-back doubles in the top of the seventh to the tie the game, and with two outs sophomore Lindsay Bodeker came on in relief. Taylor Leichsenring greeted her with a bunt single that brought home the go-ahead run, but Bodeker got a pop-out to end the inning. Ohio State’s two-run seventh gave the win to Bodeker, who is now 6-1 on the season.

The Buckeyes took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when senior Brittany Vanderink and freshman Dee Dee Hillman hit back-to-back infield singles to begin the game. Medrano walked to force in a run and sophomore Whitney Cooper hit into a fielder’s choice that brought home another.

Postgame Notes No. 22 Ohio State 4, Iowa 3 … March 28, 2008
– Not in the Box Score: Since Iowa beat Ohio State last season in Iowa City April 22 in the first game of a doubleheader, the Buckeyes have won seven-consecutive Big Ten regular-season games.
– Ohio State is now 8-1 this season in one-run games.
– Ohio State’s last four wins have all come by one run.
– The Buckeyes have won 25-consecutive regular-season home games since a loss to Michigan April 22, 2006.
– Buckeyes at the plate: Sam Marder’s seventh-inning home run extended her current hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. Her homer was her 10th of the season, which already equals her total from last year and puts her into a three-way tie for third-most homers in a season in Ohio State history with herself and Kristine Himes (2000).
– Now with 20 career home runs, Marder is tied for third all-time at Ohio State with Sarah West (1999-2002).
– Senior Liz Caputo’s game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning was her first career hit off Iowa’s Brittany Weil in five career at bats.
– Caputo was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning, marking the first time since her first collegiate plate appearance that she has been hit by a pitch. That span covered 342 at bats.
– Buckeyes in the circle: Kim Reeder allowed only two base runners through the first four innings.
– Buckeyes in the field: Ohio State led the Big Ten in fielding percentage in league games last year and did not commit an error against Iowa Friday night.
– Ohio State is now 24-3 at Buckeye Field when ranked in the Top 25.
– Weather: Mostly sunny and 40 degrees at first pitch. Wind 12 MPH left to right.
– Iowa now leads the all-time series with Ohio State 57-33, including 21-10 at Buckeye Field. The Hawkeyes had won the last eight meetings at Buckeye Field.
– Iowa has eight starters back from its 2007 team that went 37-21 overall and 10-8 in the Big Ten.

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