It seemed everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong for the Ohio State baseball team. Giving up runs every inning from the second to the sixth led to an 11-4 loss for the Buckeyes to UNC Greensboro.
OSU made hard contact with the ball, but every line drive they hit found a glove, and routines plays out in the field proved anything but easy.
The Spartans also made a ton of contact, seemingly putting everything in play. Their total of 17 hits tied the single-season record for most hits allowed in a game against OSU.
After the loss, coach Greg Beals took his team aside in the locker room for a lengthy conversation regarding their play and how to turn this season around.
“I had a message that I wanted to deliver to them. I wanted them to be in their locker room. The message was related to our cultural blueprint, our cultural blueprint on the back of every locker,” Beals said. “And I told them that we’re going to stick to our guns, we’re going to stick to who we are and what we’re doing. And we’re going to keep fighting.”
It did not take long for UNC Greensboro to jump on the scoreboard. With two outs in the second inning, a single and a walk gave the Spartans runners on first and second for senior right fielder Ryne Sigmon. Sigmon grounded a ball over to the second baseman who mishandled the ball, allowing a run to score from second.
Senior left fielder Ben Spitznagel followed that hit with a single to the hole by the shortstop that proved too deep to field, allowing the second run of the inning to come across.
The Buckeyes were set down in order in the next half inning, but were not able to do the same to their counterpart. Again with two outs, Greensboro was able to reach base and cash in on a run-scoring opportunity when junior shortstop Tripp Shelton lifted a fly ball just barely over the right field wall for a two-run home run.
The next inning, everything seemed to fall apart for the Buckeyes, as a pair of walks and two singles helped the Spartans tack on two more to their growing lead, making it 6-0.
Trailing six runs, the Buckeyes needed a spark. And it was none other than their hottest hitter, freshman right fielder Dominic Canzone, who gave them just that. Canzone singled with one out, swiped second and scored on a single to put OSU on the board.
For the fourth consecutive inning, however, the Spartans were able to put a run up on the board when Sigmon drove in his second run of the day on a single up the middle to make it 7-1.
The offense for OSU roared right back to life in the bottom of the fifth inning with a couple of familiar names driving the bulk of the production. Junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt singled to right-center field to bring one run across and make it a 7-2 game.
After a wild pitch scored the Buckeyes’ second run of the inning, Canzone stepped up to the dish and lined a single right up the middle, scoring Gantt from second and making it a 7-4 game.
OSU appeared to have some momentum heading into the sixth, but six hits and four runs in the top half of the inning sapped away the Buckeyes’ energy and put them down 11-4.
Redshirt junior pitcher Austin Woodby came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, knowing that he needed to bail his team out of the inning. And though four runs came around to score, Woodby was able to limit the damage despite an error and mental mistake out on the field.
“I come in there knowing that I had to get a groundball and try to turn a double play, get something going,” Woodby said. “I got a few groundballs, and they just found holes. And that’s something you live with, knowing that it’s just going to happen sometimes.”
A key play in that inning was when with two outs, freshman second baseman Conner Pohl fielded a ball at second, held onto the ball for an extra second and was unable to throw the runner out at first, allowing a run to score.
The mistake by Pohl came as a result of not trying to make a error, a mentality Beals wants to get rid of on this team.
“We’re spending too much time worrying about making a bad pitch or making a bad play or taking a bad swing that we’re not allowing ourselves to make a great pitch and take a great swing and make a great play,” Beals said. “And we’ve got to spend our time finding out how we’re going to win games, not worrying about how we might lose the game.”
Though not a lot went the Buckeyes’ way, the team did receive a stellar relief effort from Woodby. The swingman for OSU entered in the sixth inning and allowed just one run on four hits with three walks issued and four strikeouts.
Beals said this was exactly the kind of effort the team needed out of Woodby.
“He put zeroes and gave us a chance to try to climb back in that ball game,” Beals said. “So he did his job from that standpoint. He also did his job as a teammate to protect our bullpen and eat up those last innings and give us a shot to be strong in the bullpen for these next two games.”
That bullpen might be needed over the next two games as redshirt senior starting pitcher Jake Post and redshirt junior starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer will both be unavailable for the remainder of this series.
Saturday’s game starts at 3:05 p.m. with sophomore Connor Curlis set to take the bump for the Buckeyes.