This might have been the Sunday game between Ohio State and Purdue, but this had all the makings of a Friday night battle of aces as the Buckeyes lost 2-1 in the weekend finale.
The loss dropped OSU’s conference record to 1-5, and overall record to 11-16 on the season. Purdue improves to 3-3 in Big Ten play and 15-12 overall.
OSU coach Greg Beals said he was proud of the way his pitchers delivered on the mound, but was disappointed that his team was unable to find more success at the plate in a Sunday matchup, games that are typically more of an offensive showcase.
“We gave up one earned run on the day, on Sunday, and you give up two runs total with the one unearned run. That should be enough to win a baseball game on a Sunday,” Beals said.
He attributed the team’s inability to deliver in key moments of the game to a lack of confidence in themselves and the game plan.
“We were absolutely in situations to win today’s baseball game,” Beals said. “We’ve got to find a way for our guys to compete with some confidence, and that’s what we’re missing right now is that sense of confidence, that belief that you’re going to find a way to win a baseball game.”
The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning, when redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff came up to bat with runners on the corners. Ratcliff drove a sacrifice fly out to left field to score the runner from third and give OSU the 1-0 lead.
Post ran into some trouble for the only time all afternoon in the top of the sixth inning with runners on second and third and one away.
Freshman center fielder Skyler Hunter drove the 2-2 offering from Post up the middle, scoring both runners on base and putting Purdue ahead 2-1.
One of the best scoring opportunities for the Buckeyes came in the bottom of the sixth inning. With runners on second and third and no one out, junior designated hitter Noah McGowan struck out and was thrown out on the dropped third strike.
After McGowan was thrown out at first, Barnwell attempted to pick the pocket of the Boilermakers and steal home, but was nailed at the plate on the throw by the first baseman. A flyout followed to end the inning.
Barnwell’s attempted steal was an example of the Buckeyes straying away from their game plan, Beals said.
“We came out of the system today on that play at the plate. Just trying too hard,” he said.
The Buckeyes again had a chance to tie the game up in the bottom of the eighth inning with runners on first and second and nobody out. Two strikeouts, including one on a bunt attempt, and a flyout stranded the runners and again thwarted the Buckeyes chance.
Senior shortstop and co-captain Jalen Washington said the team missed a pair of golden opportunities to tie up the game and the team’s inability to execute in those positions came down to straying from their typical approach at the plate.
“We’ve just got to stick to our approach; (we were) trying to do a little bit too much today it seemed like,” he said. “We had a good amount of opportunities today with guys in scoring positions with one or no outs and we just didn’t execute. So we’ve just got to do a better job of execution and that starts in the mental game.”
Though the offense for OSU struggled, Post was sharp after missing back-to-back games with a back injury. The fifth-year starting pitcher gave the Buckeyes six solid innings with two runs allowed (one earned) on five hits, no walks and five strikeouts.
Post was satisfied with how he pitched in today’s game, though he felt “pretty angry” his team was unable to come away with the win against Purdue.
“I was able to hit with the fastball and command the curveball pretty well,” Post said. “It sucks; we haven’t lost a series to Purdue in a while and it’s not fun.”
The Buckeyes host Kent State at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, their final home game before hitting the road for their next Big Ten series at Penn State the following weekend.
Beals is not looking past the game against Kent State to the next conference series and said that matchup will be a tough game for his team.
“Kent’s solid and they’re a good ball club and they’ll come in here with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence,” Beals said. “They believe they’re the best baseball school in the state of Ohio, and they’re going to come in here on Wednesday night trying to prove that and it’s an opportunity for us to defend the T-H-E that we represent.”