Strong pitching may have highlighted the first-round Big Ten tournament matchup between Ohio State and Iowa, but it was a pair of big blasts that decided the contest.
Iowa senior infielder Nick Day hit a two-out, two-run homer off Ohio State senior closer Trace Dempsey to deliver a 3-2 victory for the second-seeded Hawkeyes at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Dempsey retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth in short order but walked pinch hitter Eric Schenck-Joblinske to put the winning run at the plate in Day.
Day’s heroics came shortly after OSU senior outfielder Pat Porter hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to put OSU up 2-1.
OSU sophomore right-hander Travis Lakins and Iowa junior right-hander Tyler Peyton battled deep into the game, with Iowa scoring early and OSU answering late.
The Hawkeyes got on the board in the second inning, when a walk and single to start the inning set up a sacrifice bunt and RBI groundout.
Lakins would settle in from there, not allowing a run the rest of the way, but OSU was unable to break through against Peyton — until the top of the seventh.
OSU chased Peyton after tying the game with a double and single to lead off the inning putting runners on the corners. Freshman outfielder Tre’ Gantt then tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
OSU continued to threaten in the inning with two runners on against Iowa reliever Nick Hibbing, but the senior retired sophomore infielder L Grant Davis and sophomore outfielder Troy Montgomery to get out of the jam and keep the game tied.
After Lakins got out of the bottom of the frame after allowing a leadoff hit, Porter blasted a one-out pitch from Hibbing over the right-field wall at Target Field in the following inning.
Porter had three hits in four at-bats on the afternoon. Junior first baseman Zach Ratcliff also had multiple hits for the Buckeyes.
Lakins, after giving up 19 runs in his previous three starts, was much better Wednesday, throwing eight innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits and struck out six.
OSU has now lost nine of 10 conference games. It was the first meeting between OSU and Iowa this season.
Prior to the game, Michigan defeated Indiana 4-1 to advance to the winner’s bracket. As a result, the Buckeyes will face the Hoosiers, who swept them last weekend, in the loser’s bracket, with the loser being knocked out of the tournament.
OSU’s contest against Indiana is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Target Field. Senior left-hander Ryan Riga is set to get the start for the Buckeyes.