In a winner-take-all semifinal game on Sunday morning, the Ohio State baseball team came up with the necessary hits to beat Michigan State for a second straight day and punch its ticket to the Big Ten championship game against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Buckeyes came right out of the gate swinging the bat, reaching base with their first three batters of the game to load the bases with no outs. After a fielder’s choice gave OSU an early 1-0 lead, junior center fielder Troy Montgomery laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that extended the lead to 2-0.
The third inning was filled with plenty of run scoring for both teams. In the top half of the third, Montgomery drove in his second run of the day with an RBI single to center field. But after falling behind 3-0 to the Buckeyes, the Spartans bounced back quickly.
MSU junior second baseman Dan Durkin drove a double to right field to bring the score to 3-2. He was able to score and knot the game up at three after redshirt freshman right fielder Dan Chmielewski singled to center field.
Started on a double steal attempt in the top of the sixth inning, OSU capitalized on some Spartan miscues. A throwing error by the Spartans’ catcher allowed sophomore right fielder Tre’ Gantt to score and reclaim the lead for the Buckeyes.
Then in the seventh, an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt attempt and a wild pitch to the next batter allowed a fifth and sixth Buckeye run to score. A three-run seventh inning by The Scarlet and Gray jumped the lead to 7-3 and gave its bullpen the run protection it needed.
After plaguing the Buckeyes in the second round against Iowa, the OSU bullpen was rock-solid for them against MSU. First, redshirt sophomore Kyle Michalik came into the game, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and striking out one. Sophomore Seth Kinker was the second and final arm out of the bullpen, delivering 3.2 scoreless innings of his own, allowing no hits and striking out two to earn the save and send the Buckeyes on to the Big Ten Championship.
In a rematch of the second round of the Big Ten tournament, OSU will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes with the Big Ten Championship on the line. That game will begin at 2:20 p.m. with redshirt sophomore right-hander Adam Niemeyer set to toe the rubber for the Buckeyes.