It was a hand-wringing 40 degrees in Bill Davis Stadium Tuesday night, but Ohio State sophomore Jake Vance’s fastball blazed by six opposing hitters for strikeouts in 5.2 innings of shutout work.
The Buckeyes (21-10, 3-3 Big Ten) preyed upon the advantageous start and hunted down a 4-0 win against the Ohio Bobcats (15-15, 4-5 MAC), blanking an opponent for the first time this season.
In just his third start of the season, Vance picked up most of his strikeouts with burners high in the zone, but counted on his offspeed pitches to help set up the fastballs.
“[His] changeup is probably the most effective pitch,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “That just makes the fastball look even better.”
The Buckeye bullpen followed Vance’s start with 3.1 shutout innings. Redshirt junior reliever Thomas Waning threw 2.1 innings, then gave way to Andrew Magno and Yianni Pavlopoulos, who combined for an inning of work to blank the Bobcats for the first time this season.
No player on either team tallied more than a single hit and neither team managed a run in the first four innings.
Senior third baseman Noah McGowan finally got his team on the scoreboard with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. He roped the seventh pitch through the left side of the infield to score the game’s first two runs.
“The kid wasn’t throwing many fastballs, just off-speed stuff,” McGowan said. “[I was] just trying to really see pitches up, and get something I could barrel up.”
Despite his team securing the win, Beals was not pleased with Ohio State’s offensive performance.
“Just been really disappointing to me our offense is coming off arguably one of the best weeks in a long time,” Beals said. “Then we go to Iowa, and this, and play in freezing cold weather and it slowed our offense down.”
Ohio State made a laundry list of defensive changes for the game, deviating from its normal alignment at every infield position and in center field.
One of those switches involved sophomore Conner Pohl, who flipped spots with McGowan on the corners and started at first base. He hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead.
Ohio State redshirt junior catcher Jacob Barnwell knocked in the game’s fourth and final run with a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning.
Senior Cory Blessing started on the mound for Ohio and pitched three shutout innings. Freshman reliever Eddie Kutt picked up his first loss of the season after giving up three runs in five innings.