There’s no place like home.
Dorothy might have said it in “The Wizard of Oz,” but that’s been the theme for the Ohio State baseball team throughout the month of March, and now into the first week of April. That stretch has seen the Buckeyes win 12 of their last 14 games at Bill Davis Stadium, and the run continued through the weekend.
In a back and forth battle, OSU beat the Penn State Nittany Lions in walk-off fashion Sunday afternoon, giving the Buckeyes their fifth walk-off win of the year.
After struggling in the batters box for five at bats, sophomore outfielder Troy Montgomery dug in again with a runner on base. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions were tied, but Montgomery got the hit when it counted most, smashing a double to right field that allowed freshman outfielder Tre’ Gantt, who had come in as a pinch runner, to score, giving the Buckeyes (21-7, 6-2) the 7-6 win.
“When you have a chance to win a ballgame, you have to win a ballgame,” OSU coach Greg Beals said. “This is a series where we need to take care of business, to play good baseball.”
Getting runs and coming up with big hits in crucial moments has become a trend for the Buckeyes, and redshirt-junior second baseman Nick Sergakis attributed that to the team’s resiliency.
“We are overall a scrappy team, top to bottom,” Sergakis said. “We fight till the last out is made and I think that’s the biggest difference between this year and last year.
“We remember last year. It’s good to go out there and when we need it, we get the hits. It’s good to know we have that ability.”
OSU struggled to put any runs on the board until the bottom of the third, when senior catcher Connor Sabanosh stepped to the plate. Sabanosh continued his dominance at the batters box with the first home run of his OSU career.
The catcher has impressed with a .426 slugging percentage and a .373 on-base percentage. He has also recorded six doubles this season to go along with his career-high 14 RBIs.
The Buckeyes also hit back-to-back home runs for the first time since 2011 this weekend, as senior outfielder Pat Porter and junior third baseman Troy Kuhn slammed back-to-back homers in sixth inning to give OSU a two-run lead going into the seventh.
“These guys just continue (to) battle, we have two outs, nobody on and we just barrel two balls and Porter and Kuhn get two big hits to get us back in the lead,” Beals said.
After hitting 23 total home runs last season, OSU is on track to surpass that with 20 home runs so far in 2015. The Buckeyes swatted a total of four home runs this weekend with sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson tallying the lone homer in Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Nittany Lions.
“We have confidence, there’s no doubt about that. I think that ability to win, our guys feel that,” Beals said. “Winning is a learned thing and our guys have that right now. They feel like they can get hits and find ways to win games.”
The Buckeyes are set to complete their third Big Ten series on Monday at 1:05 p.m. against the Nittany Lions at Bill Davis Stadium.