By all means Drew Rucinski did his job Friday night.
Through eight innings the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native kept the Buckeyes in the game by allowing just three Illini runs. With his pitch count hovering around 110 for the second time in less than one week, on a good team the bullpen would have been called into action relieving Rucinski of his duties going into the ninth inning.
Unfortunately Ohio State is far from a good team in 2010.
Due to a severe lack of quality arms, Coach Bob Todd elected to keep Rucinski in the game going into the ninth inning and paid for that decision. Illinois struck the right-handed pitcher for three runs in the top of the ninth as Rucinski managed just one out before Coach Todd made the call to the pen, bringing in Eric Best for the final two outs. Rucinski's line finished as 8.1 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.
Meanwhile the Buckeye bats where once again no were to be found when needing to support their pitcher with a key hit, continuing the season-long theme of failing to produce a big hit, grounding into three bases loaded double-plays in the process of stranding 11 runners in the game.
While Zach Hurley and Cory Kovanda had 3-for-5 games, once again the bottom of the line-up continued to struggle as Brian DeLucia, Matt Streng, and Tyler Engle went a combined 0-for-10, seemingly picking up where the Michigan series ended. Engle has now gone 0-for-24 in his last six games, and is in a 4-for-44 slump dating back to game one of the Michigan State series.
Kovanda did hit his second home run of the year in the game, while Michael Stephens and Ryan Dew added 2-for-4 days. Dew however was part of the 5-8 hitters who stranded nine of the 11 runners.
Ohio State now falls to 24-18, 8-8 in the Big Ten, and 6-7 at home. The Bucks are now in a 3-way tie for 5th place, just .5 game ahead of 8th place Michigan State.
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Illinois 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 13 0
Ohio State 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 12 2