After three games, three runs were all that separated the Ohio State baseball team from Big Ten foe Nebraska.
Those three runs proved costly though, as the Buckeyes (18-13, 2-7) dropped each of three games of a weekend series in Lincoln, Neb., to the Cornhuskers (19-13, 4-2) by a one-run margin.
The Buckeyes found themselves with a lead in each game, but just could not seal the deal down the stretch. Two losses were walk-offs while the other saw the Cornhuskers take the lead in the eighth inning.
“We just have to finish games. We were right there,” redshirt-sophomore infielder Ryan Leffel said after Sunday’s 2-1 loss. “One play can make the difference … we know that we’re really, really close to being a really good team.”
Sunday’s tilt saw the Buckeyes jump out to a quick lead as redshirt-junior first baseman Josh Dezse hit an RBI groundout in the first to score sophomore second baseman Troy Kuhn.
That was all the Buckeyes could muster against the Cornhuskers’ junior pitcher Aaron Bummer, however, only picking up three more hits.
The Cornhuskers got on the board in the fourth off OSU sophomore pitcher Jake Post. With two outs and men on first and third, Nebraska junior catcher Tanner Lubach hit an RBI single to tie the game.
Bummer and Post controlled the game from there as both starters went all nine innings and things stayed tied at one until the ninth.
Again with Lubach up to bat and men on first and second, Post gave up an RBI single to give the Cornhuskers the sweep.
On Saturday, the Buckeyes held a 3-0 lead until the eighth behind an RBI single from Leffel and two runs scored in the fifth after two errors by Nebraska.
Meanwhile, freshman pitcher Tanner Tully started on the bump for the Buckeyes and flirted with a no-hitter until Lubach lined a single to center to begin the seventh.
After giving up another single to begin the eighth, redshirt-senior reliever Tyler Giannonatti came in for Tully and allowed one run in the inning off a sacrifice fly from Nebraska senior outfielder Michael Pritchard.
Freshman relief pitcher Travis Lakins came on in the ninth with a two-run lead, but things quickly went south.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Lakins walked sophomore infielder Jake Placzek to draw the Cornhuskers within one.
Junior closer Trace Dempsey came on but allowed a single to Pritchard that scored two and gave the Cornhuskers the series clinching 4-3 win.
Friday night saw both starting pitchers dominate the beginning of the game. The Buckeyes’ senior pitcher Greg Greve went six innings without allowing a run.
Once again, the Buckeye offense scored first, but this time it was in the fifth when Kuhn singled off Cornhusker senior pitcher Chrsitian DeLeon to score the first run of the series.
The Buckeyes scored another off DeLeon in the seventh on an RBI single to center from Wetzel.
Lakins came in and pitched a scoreless seventh, but allowed RBI singles from Pritchard, junior infielder Pat Kelly and freshman pitcher/infielder Ben Miller in the eighth to give the Cornhuskers the 3-2 lead.
Outside of a single from sophomore infielder Jacob Bosiokovic, the Buckeyes couldn’t get anything in the ninth off DeLeon, preserving the Cornhuskers’ win.
The line for the Buckeyes’ starting pitchers for the weekend was 22 innings pitched and only two runs, but it wasn’t good enough.
Despite the rough road trip, Greve seemed confident that the Buckeyes would get it turned around.
“We played tough, played well, competed well. There’s no need to be alarmed or concerned,” Greve said after Sunday’s game. “We were very close to beating a very good team. We easily could’ve won all three games this weekend. We just have to stick to what we’re doing and keep preparing the way we’ve been doing and learn from the mistakes.”
The Buckeyes have a quick turnaround as they are scheduled for two mid-week games against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday and Dayton on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s game against the Eagles is set for 6:35 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium at Nick Swisher Field.