The Ohio State baseball team has never encountered much trouble opening up the season at home. They were undefeated at home under head coach Greg Beals and have not lost since 2004, but that streak ended this weekend, as did their three-game winning streak as they were swept by Xavier.
The team is now 8-11 on the season, while Xavier improves to an even 10-10.
The team was able to find the power stroke as they received six home runs over the weekend. This home run production was not spread out too far, however, as only three players combined for those six.
Junior second baseman Noah McGowan blasted three home runs in Game 3, senior shortstop Jalen Washington knocked two over the fence in Game 2 and junior left fielder Tyler Cowles had one of his own in Game 2 as well.
The Buckeyes took the Musketeers to extra innings, but surrendered a run in the top of the 13th inning to lose their home opener, 3-2.
Xavier may have been on the road, but they were still able to get things going early. Their first batter of the game reached first, stole second and later advanced on to third base to give the Musketeers their first scoring chance of the night. Freshman first baseman Nate Monastra was able to come through for his team and delivered an RBI single up the middle to give his team the early 1-0 lead.
The second inning started off quite similar to the first. Again, Xavier lead off the inning with a base hit, this time a double. The runner then advanced on to third on a single that put runners on the corners.
Senior center fielder Matt Fallon followed that up with a successful squeeze bunt attempt to the first baseman was that pushed across the second Xavier run of the night, giving them a 2-0 lead.
It did not take long for the Buckeyes to respond. In the bottom of the third inning, a walk, error and sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for senior shortstop Jalen Washington, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to put OSU on the board.
Junior second baseman Noah McGowan then followed up Washington’s sacrifice fly with the Buckeyes’ first hit of the game that knotted the game up at two.
The score remained tied at two apiece until the top of the 13th inning. The Musketeers loaded up the bases on a pair of hits and a walk before the Buckeyes struck out the next two batters. With the bases loaded and two away, senior right fielder Joe Gellenbeck took the six-pitch walk that pushed across the would-be winning run and bring the score to 3-2.
The most potent force at the dish for OSU was again junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt. The leadoff hitter for OSU continued his hot streak into the home opener by delivering three hits in five at-bats. He has now reached base in all 17 games and owns a team-leading .365 batting average.
Hoping to gain some momentum coming off their home-opener, the Buckeyes led the game late, but blew a 4-3 lead and lost in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4.
For the second game in a row, the Musketeers got started early. In the bottom of the second inning, a pair of walks and a single loaded up the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly put the team up early 1-0 before a squeeze bunt scored another run. The scoring finished with Gallagher lining only the second hit of the game up the middle to put Xavier on top 3-0.
The Scarlet and Gray did not wait long before responding. Half an inning later in the top of the third, junior left fielder Tyler Cowles blasted a home run over the left field wall to bring the score to 3-1.
With the score now 3-1, the Buckeyes were looking for some more offense and they found it in the form of co-captain Washington. In the top of the fourth inning, he crushed OSU’s second home run of the game over the left field wall and brought the game to within one.
The following inning, the team again found some offense off the bat of Washington. With a runner on first and two away, Washington again connected off Xavier’s starter and sent his second home run of the game out and gave OSU its first lead of the game.
After being held scoreless for four straight innings, Xavier lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh to tie up the game at four.
The game stayed tied until the bottom of the ninth inning. A hit-by-pitch, walk and single loaded up the bases with one away for Xavier junior shortstop Mitch Gallagher. Gallagher lifted his second sacrifice fly of the game to center field, bringing home the winning run for the team and sealing the 5-4 victory.
This was Washington’s first game batting third in the lineup and he delivered exactly what the team was looking for. The fourth-year co-captain came to the plate four times and finished the game with two hits (both home runs), two runs scored and three RBI’s.
OSU built up three leads against Xavier, but blew all three and lost 6-5 in walk-off fashion for the second-straight game.
Coming off a loss in which they gave up three early runs, the Buckeyes were all set to get on the scoreboard as early as possible. With the game still tied at zero in the top of the third, McGowan stepped up to the plate and launched the ball over the left field fence to put his team ahead 1-0.
The Buckeyes had the early lead, but it would not take long for the Musketeers to respond. With two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the third, junior designated hitter Blaine Griffiths doubled to right field and tied the game up at one.
The game stayed tied until the seventh inning when McGowan came to bat with runners on the corners. For the second time, he homered to left field to put the Buckeyes ahead 4-1.
Xavier again responded quickly to the offensive strike by the Buckeyes. The first batter of the bottom of the seventh inning homered to left field to bring the game to only a two-run gap.
But the Musketeers weren’t done there. The next inning, they put runners on first and second for junior catcher Nate Soria, who singled to left to bring Xavier to within one. Another single loaded up the bases for junior left fielder Will LaRue, who walked to tie the game.
Xavier had tied the game up, but the McGowan show was still going on. OSU’s second baseman stepped up to the plate for the fifth time and for the third time, he homered to left field to give OSU the 5-4 lead.
Now trailing for the third time in this game, Xavier was down to its final three outs. After the leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch, Gellenbeck homered to right-center field to deliver the Musketeers the 6-5 victory and secure the three-game sweep.
This was the clear standout game for McGowan. The third-year transfer from McClellan Community College finished the game 3-5 with three runs scored, five RBI and three home runs in the game.
The Buckeyes will take the field again at Bill Davis for only the second time this season when they host Youngstown State on Tuesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:05 p.m.