Saturday, April 11, 2009

Columbus Dispatch: Wimmers baffles Spartan Hitters

Saturday, April 11, 2009 2:59 AM
By Mark Znidar

The Columbus Dispatch

With the count 2 and 0 on Eric Roof and the scoreboard reading zero hits for Michigan State with none out in the eighth inning, Ohio State catcher Dan Burkhart called for a fastball.

Pitcher Alex Wimmers shook his head. He wanted to throw a curveball.

Wimmers, who has been pitching to Burkhart since they were 9 years old, got his way this time.

"I was like, 'Should I have thrown that or not?' " Wimmers said. "But you can't get it back. I guess I hung it pretty bad."

Roof hit a soft double into the right field corner to break up the no-hit bid.

It was Wimmers' night, though. He threw a complete-game two-hitter in leading the Buckeyes to a 6-1 victory over the Spartans in the opener of a three-game Big Ten series last night in Bill Davis Stadium.

Wimmers (6-1) struck out 11 and walked two.

Burkhart wondered how Roof, a left-handed batter, put the ball in play.

"He threw his bat at it, and it floated to right field," Burkhart said. "Not many batters are going to sit on a 2-and-0 curveball."

Jeff Holm singled in the ninth for the second hit off Wimmers. The shutout was lost when Wimmers balked with Roof on third.

On any other night, Burkhart might have been the lead story. His three-run homer, a bomb to right, gave Ohio State (24-7, 4-3) a 6-0 lead in the eighth inning. He also singled in the fifth.

"The story, without a doubt, was Alex Wimmers," coach Bob Todd said. "He dominated the ballgame. He was able to throw strikes and had command of all three of his pitches."

For all his precision, this was not Wimmers' finest start. On March 24, he gave up one hit against No. 2 University of Miami in a 7-1 victory.

That game, though, contributed to back and shoulder tightness that bogged him down in his first two Big Ten starts, against Penn State and Minnesota. He gave up 13 earned runs in nine inningsin those.

"I took every inning like we were tied," he said. "It's a conference game, and you want to win every one you can. I was taking it inning by inning. As the game goes on, you can't think about (a no-hitter)."

Wimmers threw a perfect game in high school for Cincinnati Moeller. Burkhart was his catcher.

"Everything crossed my mind with the perfect game and no-hitter," Burkhart said. "I thought he'd do it. But it's hard to do that in baseball. We were on the same page today."

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