The Ohio State baseball team still has work to do if it wants to knock off reigning Big Ten champion Indiana.
The Buckeyes (16-10, 2-4) showed signs of youth and inexperience while getting knocked around by the Hoosiers (15-10, 5-1), who swept a three-game series between the clubs.
“I thought we played young,” coach Greg Beals said after his team lost the second game of a Sunday doubleheader, 7-1. “We made a lot of mistakes this weekend that younger teams make. The character of this ball club will be very important over the next week. When you face adversity, your character becomes defined and we’ll find out what we’re all about in the next week.”
Bad weather postponed the middle game of the series from Saturday to Sunday, leading to the doubleheader.
In the second game Sunday, freshman starting pitcher Tanner Tully got rattled early giving up one run in the first and three in the second.
Tully settled in after that, and pitched five more innings, but the damage had already been done.
The Hoosiers scored another in the seventh and two more off freshman Travis Lakins in the eighth to end the scoring and complete the sweep.
Indiana’s sophomore starter Christian Morris dominated the Buckeye bats, giving up only three hits while pitching 7.2 innings.
Redshirt-junior first baseman and pitcher Josh Dezse had an RBI groundout in the fourth to prevent the shutout.
In the first game Sunday, it was the Buckeyes who drew first blood.
With two outs and two men on in the third, Dezse hit a double off junior pitcher Kyle Hart to score both runners.
That was all the Buckeye offense would muster, though.
Senior pitcher Greg Greve held the Hoosiers scoreless for four innings, but gave up two home runs in the fifth that doomed the Buckeyes.
Junior catcher Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run shot to right and redshirt-junior outfielder Scott Donley lined a solo shot to right for the go-ahead run.
The Hoosiers added another four runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to give them an 8-2 win.
“These two games don’t characterize how we play at all,” Dezse said Sunday. “From the field it seemed like we were flat. In the dugout it seemed like we were flat. I don’t know really what was going on there, but I do know we will bounce back.”
Friday saw a much closer game, but the Buckeyes still fell short.
The Hoosiers struck first in the third on an RBI single by Donley off Buckeye junior starting pitcher Ryan Riga.
Junior infielder Sam Travis added to the lead in the fifth with an RBI single to right.
The bats finally came alive for the Buckeyes in the sixth when they got to senior pitcher Joey DeNato.
With men on the corners, Dezse hit a single to left to cut the lead in half and give the Buckeyes some confidence.
The Hoosiers answered right back, though, scoring two runs each in the seventh and eighth.
Down five runs, the Buckeyes stayed resilient and battled their way back in the ninth.
With the bases loaded, senior outfielder Tim Wetzel plated one with a groundout to second to start the rally.
Sophomore infielder and RBI leader Troy Kuhn came up to bat with two on and two outs. He hit a ground ball to short and the throw to first was wide, allowing both runners to score but Kuhn was thrown out trying to advance to second as the Hoosiers took the series opener 6-4.
Trying to prove they are among the nation’s elite, the Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on a big opportunity this weekend against a participant from last years College World Series.
“We’re all out there trying our hardest, but it just didn’t go our way this series,” Wetzel said. “They outplayed us. Flat out. It’s really disappointing. What we talked about after the game was how we’re going to respond and it’s going to be a turning point in the season.”
With two midweek games coming up, Dezse said that things will be different for both of them.
“It is going to change. Whether it’s needed by force or our guys just realizing that that’s not our ball club.” Dezse said.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to take on Ohio at Bill Davis Stadium April 1 at 6:35 p.m.