DUNEDIN, Fla. – Ohio State opened its 126th season of baseball in fine fashion by defeating Notre Dame, 2-0, Friday at Dunedin Stadium. Sophomore pitchers Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski combined for the opening day shutout by striking out 10 Irish while scattering six hits with just three walks.
Wimmers, making his first collegiate start, pitched 6.0 impressive innings, striking out seven and allowing just six hits. The Cincinnati native struck out the side in the first inning, although he did give up a double to projected first-round draft pick A.J. Pollack. He got out of trouble in the third after walking a runner, but he got two pop-outs with men on first and third, including coaxing one pop fly from the dangerous Pollock. He also got out of a jam in the sixth unscathed.
“I was running on adrenalin initially,” Wimmers said. “I pleased with my effort overall, although I could have done a little better. I walked too many batters.”
Head coach Bob Todd was pleased with the way his team competed.
“I thought we did a really good job of competing in the batter’s box,” Todd said. “We did some things right and there were a lot of things we did that I liked. We still have to get better, though. Dupra [Notre Dame starter Brian] was a good pitcher, but we beat him. We’ve got to keep doing that. We’ve got to beat No. 1 pitchers.
“And I thought Alex and Drew did a great job for us tonight. They competed on the mound. They kept us in the ball game.”
Wimmers, who picked up the win, gave way to Rucinski in the seventh and the Broken Arrow, Okla., product was equally impressive on the mound. Rucinski pitched the final three innings, faced just one batter over the minimum and struck out the side in the crucial ninth inning to register the save.
Offensively, Ohio State had just six hits against Dupra, who went 6.1 innings and walked just one while striking out two.
Ohio State scored in the fourth inning on a two-out, RBI single by senior captain Justin Miller. Cory Kovanda had led off the inning with a walk, took second on a ground out and then scored on Miller’s hit up the middle.
Notre Dame challenged in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs behind two walks and an infield single. But Wimmers slammed three straight pitches past Billy Boockford, including a called third strike, to end the inning and keep the Buckeyes in front, 1-0.
The Buckeyes increased the lead to 2-0 in the seventh and chased Dupra in the process. Dan Burkhart opened the inning by lacing a triple down the right field line. Cory Rupert then ripped a double to left to score Burkhart.
At that point, the game was in the hands of the Buckeye defense and pitchers, and the Scarlet and Gray performed flawlessly to record its first season-opening shutout since downing Alabama-Birmingham, 2-0, in 2002.
The Buckeyes will play Connecticut, a 4-2 loser to Michigan State Friday, in a 4 p.m. game Saturday at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, Fla.
Wimmers and Rucinski shut out Irish