Friday, April 24, 2009

Buckeye 2-Run Bottom 9th Wins Game 5-4

For the first time this season the Ohio State baseball team wins a game after trailing through 7.

Trailing 4-3 going into their last at-bat, Zach Hurley led-off the 9th with a single through the left side. A perfectly executed bunt sacrafice by Cory Kovanda moved Hurley into scoring position. Michael Stephens followed reached base via a HBP. With runners on first and second, Dan Burkhart sent a shot back up the middle, with Hurley scoring just ahead of the the throw home. Advancing on the throw to third was Stephens, who in the next at-bat scored the game winning run, as captain Justin Miller hit a chopper to short that Stephens beat the throw home.

Recap from OSU Athletics

No. 24 Ohio State has a bunch of wins this season – 30 to be exact – but Friday at Bill Davis Stadium the team earned its first when trailing after the seventh inning with a hard-earned 5-4 victory over Northwestern in front of a season high 1,758 fans.

Trailing 4-3 entering the ninth inning and 0-9 in such situations this season, the Buckeyes manufactured two runs for the victory to improve to 30-9 overall and a Big Ten Conference-leading 10-3 in the league. Northwestern drops to 11-25 overall and 2-9 in the Big Ten.

“We need to win games like this,” said Ohio State coach Bob Todd, who has now guided all 22 of his Ohio State teams to 30 or more victories. “Zach Hurley set the stage in the ninth and Cory Kovanda did his job by getting Hurley into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.”

“That was a good comeback win,” Burkhart, one of four Buckeyes with two hits, said. “We needed to get that.”

Ohio State played from behind the entire game. Northwestern’s hitters were seeing pitches clearly in the first inning, collecting five hits to score three runs off Ohio State starter Alex Wimmers. Wimmers ended up striking out the side in the inning, but a three-run inning against Wimmers simply doesn’t happen much this year.

“Wimmers battled through even though he didn’t have his good stuff,” Todd said.

The runs didn’t faze Wimmers and the Buckeyes fought back. Burkhart doubled in the second and scored on Miller’s single to put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard. Matt Streng led off the fifth inning with his sixth home run of the season to close the gap to 3-2.

A two-out walk with a man on board, followed by a Hamilton Wise single, scored a Wildcat run in the sixth inning to give a boost of adrenalin to the Northwestern bench, along with a 4-2 lead.

Streng singled to lead off the Buckeye seventh and eventually scored on a wild pitch to close the gap once again to one run at 4-3. Midway through the inning Wildcat starter Joe Muraski was replaced by David Jensen. Mursaki went 6.2 innings and gave up seven hits, just two earned runs with four walks and three strikeouts.

Wimmers left shortly thereafter. After getting the first two batters out in the eighth, back-to-back walks prompted a visit to the mound from coach Todd and the end of the effort for Wimmers. The sophomore went 7.2 innings and scattered eight hits, gave up the four runs, walked three and struck out 10 Wildcats.

The score stayed at 4-3 into the bottom of the ninth inning, when Ohio State had the top of its order coming to the plate. And they did their job.

Drew Rucinski pitched the final 1.1 innings to pick up the win and improve to 7-2 on the season. Cole Livermore, NU’s third pitcher of the night, dropped to 0-2 with the loss.

Box score

Dispatch Recap

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