Redshirt freshman Steven Spencer, pommel horse squad post second-best event score in 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio In its second of three road duals vs. Top 7 opponents, the Ohio State men’s gymnastics squad had a great night on the pommel horse but fell to third-rated California, 352.7-337.25 Friday in Berkeley, Calif. The Buckeyes, who competed without three of their top scorers vs. Cal, fall to 3-5 overall and hold a 1-5 ledger in the Big Ten Conference. The Golden Bears improve to 9-1 on the season.

Highlighting the meet for Ohio State was the pommel horse squad which produced a 55.35 event total, just .60 point shy of the team’s season-high. This effort came from behind a second-place finish from redshirt freshman and Fremont, Calif., native Steven Spencer. Spencer scored a career-high 15.0, trailing Cal’s Glen Ishino by .10 in first. Ohio native’s Andy Saurber, a senior from Fairfield, and Ty Echard, a freshman from Lancaster, contributed a 14.05 (fourth) and 13.55 (fifth), respectively. Saurber’s mark set a new season high for the 2009 NCAA pommel horse finalist. Despite its best efforts, Ohio State lost the event to California, 56.25-55.35.

Junior Shachar Tal tallied his second-consecutive career high on floor with a 14.95 to lead the Buckeyes with a third-place finish on the event. Classmate Justin Myers was fourth with a 14.8 as Ohio State dropped the first rotation, 58.45-57.4.

After an outstanding performance on the pommel horse, the Scarlet and Gray struggled on their two best events, rings and vault. The Golden Bears outscored the Buckeyes, 58.65-56.85, on rings while holding a 61.95-58.75 advantage on vault. Tal, who led the squad on four events at the competition, had a fourth-place finish on rings (14.55), tied for fifth on vault with a 14.95 and was sixth on parallel bars (14.5). Myers recorded a team-best fifth-place finish on high bar with a 13.8.

Freshman Matt Rayl made his Buckeye debut at the competition and in all, Ohio State had five rookies in the lineup Friday.

Next up, Ohio State takes on reigning NCAA Champion Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., at 8 p.m. March 14.