The Ohio State baseball team (15-24) gave up 16 hits, including at least one hit to eight of the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s nine starters, as they lost to the Spartans (24-14) 11-4 on Saturday.
After giving up 11 runs in Friday’s game between the second and sixth innings, the Buckeyes experienced a little déjà vu in Saturday’s game as those same five innings came back to bite them for 11 runs again. This also marked the second game in which the Spartans tallied at least 16 hits after they tallied 17 on Friday.
“Quite honestly guys, I don’t care to talk about today’s game,” Beals said. “I need to talk about where we’re at as a ball club, and what we can do to get better. You guys saw the game, we weren’t very good today.”
Beals said one way his team can improve is to lose their fear of making a mistake and avoid trying to be perfect constantly.
“We’re afraid of making mistakes. I don’t feel like we’re trying to do too much. I feel like we’re afraid to make mistakes,” Beals said. “I feel like our pitchers are trying to make perfect pitches and they’re getting down in the count and walking some guys, certainly getting into bad counts and against this hitting ball club, when you get into bad counts, they’re going to put a good swing on you.”
This game began with an unusual hit, but not an unfamiliar hit. For the second-straight game, a Greensboro batter grounded a ball down the line that would have been fielded cleanly had it not bounced right off the first base bag.
While the Spartans found a hit in the strangest ways possible, the Buckeyes couldn’t buy a baserunner for most of the game. Line drives always seem to find gloves when the Buckeyes were up to bat and bloops seemed to drop for the Spartans.
Though OSU seemed to be on the wrong end of nearly all of the plays in this game, Beals said his team needs to fight through those plays and find a way to win in spite of the unusual bounces.
“You know what, tomorrow, they may hit a ball down the line and hit a base and bounce over our head and we may hit a couple line drives right at guys,” Beals said, “And you know what, we’ve got to own it and we’ve got to find a way to overcome it.”
The Spartans were able to capitalize on some poor defense from the Buckeyes in the top of the second. After a walk and an error by freshman second baseman Conner Pohl put runners on first and second, Greensboro senior right fielder Ryne Sigmon singled up the middle. The ball was mishandled by the center fielder and got past him, allowing the two runners to score and Sigmon to advance on to third.
A throwing error by Pohl on a groundball from the next batter allowed Sigmon to score, bringing the Spartan lead to 3-0.
Pohl was given a chance at redemption, however, in the bottom of the second inning when he stepped up to the plate with a runner on first. He lined the first pitch he saw into the left-center field gap, scoring the runner and making it a 3-1 ball game.
The Spartans quickly grabbed that run back in the top of the third when sophomore second baseman Austin Embler singled to left-center, driving in the runner from third.
For the fourth straight inning, the Spartans got their leadoff hitter on base and for the third straight inning, he came around to score, this time on a groundout from freshman third baseman Caleb Webster.
Two batters later, senior first baseman Michael Goss singled just between the third baseman and shortstop to plate the Spartans’ second run of the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Sigmon doubled down the right field line with runners on second and third and one away to push the Greensboro lead to seven runs.
The next inning, the Spartans again extended their lead, this time on the strength of a two RBI groundouts and a double from junior shortstop Tripp Shelton that gave them an 11-1 lead.
OSU eventually put another one up in the bottom of the seventh inning when Gantt drilled a single to the first baseman who could not quite come up with it cleanly, allowing the runner to score from second.
With just two outs remaining in the game, the Buckeyes started to show a little life as senior shortstop Jalen Washington doubled down the left field line to drive in a run, bringing the score to 11-3.
Gantt stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third with one away and lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 11-4. The next batter grounded out for OSU to end the game.
The Buckeyes will hope to avoid the sweep on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. when they send junior Reece Calvert to the mound for his third career start.