The Ohio State baseball team was coming off their most dominating win of the season and first Big Ten win in a 13-2 victory over Purdue after scoring nine runs in the first four innings.
But the tables turned on Saturday as the Boilermakers pounded out six runs in the first four innings and held on to that early lead to win, 6-1.
Purdue put its leadoff hitter aboard in each of those innings and every time, that runner came around to score. The inability to keep the leadoff batter off base was a problem for the Buckeyes, said OSU coach Greg Beals, and one that cost them the game.
“They got the leadoff guy on the first four innings. Two of them, we let them on base freely,” Beals said. “They were hit batsmen or a walk. We ended up having eight of those total for the night. Didn’t pitch the ball nearly as cleanly as we needed to be successful.”
Taking their first lead of the series, the Boilermakers’ leadoff hitter reached base on a first-pitch hit-by-pitch and later came around to score on a groundout to the shortstop.
A leadoff double and sacrifice bunt put a runner on third for freshman third baseman Mike Madej who punched a single through the left side of the infield to bring the score to 2-0.
Junior right fielder Alec Olund lined a triple into the right field corner, scoring Madej from second. Olund scored later in the inning on a groundout, increasing his team’s lead to four runs.
The Boilermakers again scored runs on groundouts, one in both the third and fourth innings to raise the score to 6-0.
Feltner was able to keep the leadoff batter from reaching first base and scoring for the first time all night in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore left fielder Nick Dalesandro grounded out to Feltner, who stared down Dalesandro after he fielded the ball.
“There was no words said by Feltner. He stared him down,” Beals said. “I don’t like it, but it’s that fine line between you want your guys to have some competitive juice, but you want to make sure they’re controlling it properly and using it properly.”
Beals said that emotions just got the better of him, but that they had a discussion and cleared up the situation.
“We talked about it, we addressed it and he knows his emotions got away from him a little bit there,” Beals said.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Buckeyes strung together three straight hits, capped off by an RBI double from redshirt senior right fielder Shea Murray that brought the score to 6-1.
Murray finished the game with three of the Buckeyes’ eight hits and both the team’s doubles. It was the first career multi-hit game for the pitcher-turned-outfielder.
“I had runners on first and third, on the corners, and my thought process there was just trying to hit something far and deep and I kind of got out in front of it and took it down the line,” Murray said.
Making the transition from pitcher to outfielder for Murray has taken some time to reach a point where he feels completely comfortable with his game, but he said he has really been feeling more confident both in the field and at the plate.
“As far as defensively, I feel really comfortable. That’s something that you can get thousands of reps in over the course of time off fungos, off intersquad games and stuff,” Murray said. “I think I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable at the plate. I think a lot of comfort at the plate comes from confidence. So a game like this obviously helps out a lot towards the confidence side of it.”
The Boilermakers were provided with a strong performance from sophomore starting pitcher Gareth Stroh. Though he entered the game with a 6.83 ERA, he allowed just one run to cross in 7.2 innings. OSU mustered only six hits, one extra base hit and no walks, while he struck out two.
Beals was impressed by the outing of Stroh and credited the Boilermakers’ starter with putting a lot of movement on his fastball.
“He’s got a little bit of angle and deception on that fastball. Kinda that typical lefty that’s got some left-handed deception to it,” Beals said. “A little bit disappointed in our inability to get things going a little earlier off of him. Throwing a lot of fastballs to us, I thought we would make an adjustment the second time through the lineup.”
Redshirt senior starting pitcher Jake Post was again unavailable to start Saturday, but Beals confirmed he will be starting on Sunday.
“Jake Post is going to take the start tomorrow. Jake’s continued to get better throughout the week,” Beals said. “He tweaked the back a little bit — kind of old-man back — and he’s been able to progressively get better.”
Despite the injury, Post has been eager to get back out on the mound in his senior year, Beals said.
“He’s a senior and it’s going to be a big game for us,” he said. “We need to win this home series and he wants the ball so we’re going to give it to him.”
Post will deliver the first pitch of Sunday’s game at 1 p.m. as OSU looks to take the rubber match against Purdue.