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Early runs create ‘snowball effect’ as Ohio State baseball loses to Dayton, 8-5

Junior outfielder Pat Porter (3) catches the ball during a game against Eastern Michigan April 8 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 8-1. Credit: James Grega Jr. / Lantern reporter

Junior outfielder Pat Porter catches the ball during a game against Eastern Michigan April 8 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 8-1.
Credit: James Grega Jr. / Lantern reporter

The University of Dayton just keeps on beating Ohio State.

Just a few weeks removed from the two schools playing in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Flyers (13-17, 5-4) took it to the Buckeyes (19-14, 2-7) on the diamond in Columbus, beating them, 8-5.

Normally assuming the role of closer, junior pitcher Trace Dempsey started for the Buckeyes Wednesday.

“I let the team down today,” Dempsey said. “It was important to get this win today and I didn’t really come out or give us an opportunity to win … today my body language got out of hand and I kind of sucked a little life out of the team. That’s my fault.”

With the Buckeyes either winning by blowout fashion or trailing late in recent games, coach Greg Beals has been giving Dempsey extra work during the mid-week games.

Dempsey was sluggish early, walking and hitting a batter in the first inning. Those two early mistakes proved costly as two unearned runs crossed the plate following two errors on a ground ball hit by junior infielder A.J. Ryan.

Beals said those two early runs were the key to the game.

“We walked a guy, we hit a guy, and we committed an error,” Beals said. “And we gave them two runs in the first inning. That set the tempo for the rest of the game.”

The Flyers got another two runs in the third, this time earning them off Dempsey.

With men on first and second, back-to-back RBI singles from Ryan and sophomore outfielder Aaron Huesman pushed the Flyers’ cushion to four.

The early runs gave the Flyers provided the spark needed to overcome OSU.

“This is one of their biggest games of the year and we can’t give them any hope,” Buckeye junior catcher Aaron Gretz said after the game. “Once they get some momentum it’s like a snowball effect. We can’t give up those early runs like that.”

The Buckeyes found a sense of urgency in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs of their own.

Gretz led off with a double before advancing to third on an error and scoring on a wild pitch from the Flyers’ freshman starter Nick Gobert.

OSU redshirt-sophomore shortstop Nick Sergakis followed with a double of his own and scored after another double from teammate and sophomore infielder Troy Kuhn.

Kuhn eventually scored after an infield single by freshman outfielder Troy Montgomery to pull the Buckeyes within one.

The Flyers answered in the fourth, though.

Freshman Yianni Pavlopoulos came on to relieve Dempsey, and the Flyers got men on first and second with redshirt-junior outfielder Alex Harris up to bat.

With Pavlopoulos making only his second appearance of the season, Harris took full advantage of his inexperience and sent a pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run shot to push the Flyers’ lead back to four.

Redshirt- senior relief pitcher Tyler Giannonatti came in after Pavlopoulos and pitched two scoreless innings for the Buckeyes, who began chipping away at the lead.

OSU redshirt-sophomore Ryan Leffel had an RBI single in the fifth and freshman outfielder Ronnie Dawson smashed a solo home run over the right-field wall in the sixth to put the Buckeyes down two.

The Flyers pulled a run back in the eighth off freshman Travis Lakins on a sacrifice fly from redshirt-junior infielder Sergio Plasencia to get the lead back to three with only two innings left.

Another run for the Buckeyes was not in the cards, though, as sophomore reliever Nick Weybright shut down the Buckeye bats and gave the Flyers the 8-5 win.

Dempsey and the Buckeyes have a chance to right the ship in a series with Big Ten foe Penn State this weekend in Columbus at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.

First pitch Friday against the Nittany Lions is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

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