Ohio State defeated Illinois Sunday 8-4 to snap a five-game losing streak and avoid being swept for the first time this season.
Things were not looking good early for OSU as the Illini scored first, as they did in the first two games of the series.
Illinois scored one run in the first and added three more in the second inning of starting pitcher Brett McKinney. Two consecutive Illini hitters reached base, one walked and one hit by a pitch, which allowed shortstop Josh Parr to bring both runners home on his second triple of the weekend. Parr scored on a single by center fielder Willie Argo.
That is where the scoring stopped for Illinois.
Ryan Dew, who is usually the designated hitter, made his first start in right field and connected on a solo home run to dead centerfield in the bottom of the second.
Fueled by a great defensive play by right fielder Zach Hurley to save a run and end the top of the third, the Buckeyes added four more runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead.
After only scoring five runs in the first two games of the series combined, the Buckeye offense responded with eight runs on 15 hits.
Dew and his high school teammate, second baseman Cory Kovanda, led the way with four hits apiece. Dew also had five RBIs and was a triple away from hitting for the cycle. The small crowd that endured 50-degree, windy conditions greeted Dew with applause as he was replaced by a pinch runner in the eighth inning.
“I needed that, I was slumping a little bit,” Dew said. “When you play loose, that’s when you can play the best.”
The whole team seemed to play loose. Theron Minium, who replaced McKinney after the third inning, pitched three scoreless innings to pick up the win and move to 3-2 on the season.
The defense followed suit, as multiple diving stops were made to protect the lead, including one by Dew.
“Today they came and tried to just stay focused on playing the game of baseball,” coach Bob Todd said. “They played a little more relaxed but still with focus.”
That focus translated to a key win to move the Buckeyes to 9-9 in the Big Ten.
The team plays Ball State next at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium.