Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wimmers Two-Hit Gem Stiffles Spartans

Those who braved the windy crisp conditions that struck the Midwest last night, and attended Ohio State's Big Ten home opener did not leave disappointed. Sophomore ace Alex Wimmers did his best to provide a show and his hot arm on the cool night almost went into the record books as Ohio State (24-7, 4-3) won 6-1 last night over the Michigan State Spartans (11-19, 3-4).

Wimmers had a no-hitter through 7 innings, until Michigan State catcher Eric Roof broke up the no-no with leadoff double to start the 8th, a bunt sacrifice, an infield hit, and balk brought Roof around, preventing Wimmers from throwing his second complete game shut out of the season. After returning to the dugout after the 8th inning Wimmers told coaches he wanted to finish the game, and complete the game he did.

Though the shutout was lost, the Spartans were unable to keep Wimmers from firing his third complete game of the season. In the previous two Wimmers struck out 15 and 14 batters against Pittsburgh, and Indiana, Michigan State performed slightly better, only being sat down 11 times via strikeout but the end result was the same. The defense behind Wimmers was spectacular, both middle infielders second baseman Cory Kovanda and shortstop Tyler Engle made amazing plays up the middle, helping to limit Michigan State to four base runners all game courtesy two hits, two walked.

Wimmers improved to 6-1 on the season, earning his first Big Ten victory. Wimmers now leads the Big Ten with 72 strikeouts.

The spotlight wasn't solely on Wimmers on this night. The Buckeye bats caught fire in spurts and saw the longball light up the scoreboard.

It didn't take long for the Bucks to get on the board. On just the second pitch from Michigan State starter Nolan Moody, leadoff hitter Zach Hurley sent the 1-0 pitch deep and over the right field fence to give Ohio State a 1-0 lead. The home run for Hurley, his 5th was the team's first leadoff home run of the season. The four-bagger bumped Hurley's team leading RBI total to 36, it also increased his hit total to 51 which leas the Big Ten.

The score stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the 6th in the pitcher's duel. Ryan Dew lead off the bottom half of the 6th drawing a walk, his second of the game. Michael Arp stepped to the plate looking to move Dew into scoring position. Arp sent Moody's pitch right back up the middle to him that looked to be a 1-4-3, double-play in progress until a hard slide from Dew forced Spartan second baseman Chris Roberts' throw wide of first base, allowing Arp to reach second with one out.

Tyler Engle stepped to the plate with a runner in scoring position, but all night the Bucks struggled to capitalize with RISP, leaving sevens on base until this point. Engle was unable to advance Arp with a ground out to MSU third baseman AJ Shindler.

With two outs Matt Streng stepped into the batters boxed and showed that in this line-up, the #9 hitter is just as dangerous as any. Streng used a level swing to send a looping liner into center field, scoring the speedy Arp from second. Streng was thrown out sliding into second as Moody made a great play picking off the throw home and nailing Streng, but the damage was done, and the Bucks picked up another run to support Wimmers.

It didn't wasn't long until the Buckeyes added more runs on the scoreboard. After Wimmers sat Sparty down in order in the top of the 7th. The hot bats for Coach Todd's team picked up where they left off in the 6th. Back-to-back walks by Hurley and Kovanda put two runners on base with no outs. Junior centerfielder Michael Stephens dropped down a great sacrifice bunt to give his team two runners in scoring position with just one out.

Following Stephens at the plate was hot-hitting catcher Dan Burkhart who came in the game just behind Hurley with 31 RBI, second on the team, and was looking to add to the total. A high school teammate of Wimmers and Cincinnati Moeller, Burkhart made sure his battery mate won on this night. Where a simple sac fly would have brought in a run, and a base hit two, Burkhart put the game out of reach for Michigan State sending Moody's high inside fastball into the night and over the right field fence of Bill Davis stadium for his 5th home run of the year. The Bucks now led 5-0.

Ohio State scored for the third inning in a row in the 8th to close out the scoring. Engle led off the inning with a triple down the right field line, and scored on a sac fly by Streng. The Engle run closed the books on the scoring for the night in the Buckeyes 6-1 victory.

Leading the way offensively were Burkhart, Engle, and Streng, who all had two-hits. Hurley and Dew went 1-for-3 and 1-for-2 respectively but reache base on walks two times apiece. Burkhart's 3 RBI from his home run led the Bucks in run producing on the night. Streng collected two RBI, and Hurley's solo home run gave him 1. Kovanda, Burkhart, Arp, and Engle all crossed the plate once, while Hurley did so twice.

Recap and Game Notes Courtesy Ohio State Athletics

Box Score

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