Lantern file photo
Ohio State baseball hosted Big Ten conference-leading Minnesota for a three-game series at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium, and the Buckeyes’ guests came away from the trip to Columbus, Ohio, empty-handed.
The Buckeyes (18-12, 5-4 Big Ten) took all three games in the series from the Golden Gophers (17-16, 3-3 Big Ten). OSU won its fourth-consecutive game Sunday, 4-1, to complete the wins.
Minnesota was on an eight-game winning streak before the series and the sweep represents the first between the two schools since 2001. OSU leads the all-time series 85-84-2.
OSU coach Greg Beals said the key to the series was pitching.
Buckeye sophomore pitcher John Kuchno pitched six scoreless innings Sunday and got help from senior outfielder David Corna, sophomore designated hitter Mike Carroll, freshman outfielder Patrick Porter and sophomore outfielder Tim Wetzel, who each drove in a run to back the OSU starter.
After a Corna RBI groundout and an RBI single up the middle by Carroll put OSU up, 2-0, in the sixth inning, Minnesota tacked on a run in the top of the seventh to halve its deficit.
Wetzel responded with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Porter followed with an RBI single that plated OSU junior infielder Ryan Cypret.
OSU had all the offense it needed, and Buckeyes sophomore pitcher Greg Greve eventually closed the game out to earn his first career save.
A key defensive play in Sunday’s game came when Porter threw out Minnesota’s redshirt freshman shortstop Michael Handel at the plate.
Beals said Porter’s toss home was the play of the game.
Porter said he was surprised Handel tried to score because he had already thrown a Golden Gopher out at the plate during Saturday’s game.”I was surprised the second time,” Porter said. “I fielded it cleanly and heard (Minnesota’s third base coach) say, ‘go’ and I thought, ‘All right, I’m about to just hose him now.'”
After the win Sunday, OSU improved to 14-0 in games when leading after the seventh inning.
Beals said he was not aware of that statistic, but is proud of it nonetheless.
“That’s a great stat; don’t tell anyone that,” Beals said. “We put a lot of emphasis in our bullpen and our guys out there know I have a lot of confidence in them.”
The Buckeyes allowed just five runs to Minnesota in the series, but OSU had dominant pitching performances throughout the weekend.
The Buckeyes won, 5-3, Saturday afternoon, and were led by junior left-hander Brian King. King pitched seven innings allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks.
Sophomore pitcher Jaron Long may have had the best pitching performance in the series for OSU on Friday.
OSU beat Minnesota Friday night, 2-1, behind Long, who went eight innings, allowing three hits and one run while striking out eight. Long was matched against Minnesota’s ace, junior pitcher TJ Oakes, who struck nine Buckeyes out in a complete-game loss. After the game, Long said he doesn’t change the way he pitches while facing the other team’s best pitcher.
“It’s not anything different, it’s still the same game,” Long said. “I just try to go out there and not give up any runs. There are some times when we’re going to jump on their guy and other times when we’re going to have to scratch and claw like tonight.”
OSU returns to action with a Tuesday game against Ohio University. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium.