Following a 16-3 loss to No. 19 Oklahoma State (32-16, 12-8 Big 12) Tuesday night, coach Greg Beals said his Ohio State team (22-22, 10-8 Big Ten) had just been taught a lesson on how to play baseball. The Buckeyes took it to heart in game two, beating Oklahoma State, 3-2.
With a 2-2 game heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two walks and a single. Senior infielder Ryan Cypret then came through with the game-winning sacrifice fly.
“Give our guys a lot of credit, bouncing back, showed a lot of gumption, showed a lot of competitiveness after (Tuesday) night’s game to come back and play as good as we played (Wednesday),” Beals said.
The Buckeye hitters could not figure out Oklahoma State’s starter Jason Hursh early as he held OSU to two hits in six innings of work and at one point retired 14 straight hitters.
As soon as Hursh was replaced in the seventh however, the bats came alive for OSU. After two singles and an error put runners in scoring position, freshman designated hitter Josh Dezse and senior third baseman Matt Streng came through with back-to-back RBI ground-outs to tie the game at two.
Freshman starter John Kuchno gave up an RBI double in the first, but that was it, holding the Cowboys scoreless on only two hits through his next four innings. It was one of his best outings and helped improve his previous 7.62 ERA to 6.68.
“Just a heck of an opportunity against a great team and I wanted to take full advantage of that and have that fearless kind of attitude,” Kuchno said. “I knew I could keep us in it.”
Dezse came in to close the ninth, striking out three, while junior reliever Andrew Armstrong picked up the win, his second.
OSU will host Iowa in a three-game series this weekend starting today at 6:35 p.m.
“This is going to push right into Friday, our momentum’s rolling right now, we’re all fired up and we know what we got to do this weekend,” Dezse said.
Tale of two games
While the first game featured Oklahoma State getting 16 runs and 20 hits in a slugfest, this game was the polar opposite. This time the OSU pitchers made the Cowboys work for their runs, giving up only two runs on seven hits.
“Storyline pitching staff pitching at the bottom of the strike zone,” Beals said. “Yesterday we were up in the zone, giving those potent bats a great opportunity. Tonight we were at the bottom of the zone and held them at bay.”
Middle of lineup produces
When it mattered the most, the Buckeyes 3-through-5 hitters came through in the clutch. Down 2-0 in the seventh, fourth and fifth hitters Dezse and Streng both hit RBI ground outs to tie the game. That was followed in the eighth by Cypret, the third hitter, with the game-winning RBI.
“It’s what the middle of the lineup is supposed to do,” Beals said. “Those guys are hitting at that .300-and-above clip for a reason. They’ve given quality at bats and we were able to do that again tonight.”
Four relief pitchers saw action in the game. Usual freshman starter Greg Greve came in for the fifth and gave up one run. He was followed by the usual rotation of senior Jared Strayer, Armstrong and Dezse, who allowed only one hit in the last three innings.