Senior third baseman Noah McGowan laid on the ground next to third base.
The hero of Saturday’s game against Indiana hit the eventual game-winning home run in the series’ second contest, but Sunday was different. He didn’t just win a game. He won a series.
In the rubber match of the series, McGowan hit a walk-off double in the 12th inning to deliver the Buckeyes a 6-5 win against No. 8 Indiana.
He was on the ground because a mob led by Ohio State junior catcher Jacob Barnwell tackled him following the shot into right field that knocked off the Hoosiers (29-8, 7-4 Big Ten) Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium.
Now with another ranked win and a series victory against the top team in the Big Ten conference, Ohio State (27-11, 8-4 Big Ten) has started to stack its resume with just four conference series remaining in the year.
“You read the national, social media, nobody’s said a fricking word about Ohio State all year long,” head coach Greg Beals said. “So hopefully we made a statement. And if nobody talks about it, we don’t care, that’s fine. We’ll just keep doing what we do.”
Inning after inning, Beals and Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis played bullpen chess, throwing their best relievers into play against two of the best lineups in the conference.
The Buckeyes used a collection of four relievers. But as usual, they relied heavily on senior Seth Kinker.
Ohio State tied the ball game an inning and a third into Kinker’s stint, then a deadlock began. Kinker held Indiana scoreless in the top of the ninth, but the Buckeyes couldn’t deliver a win in the bottom half. The cycle repeated itself until McGowan’s double finally won it in the 12th.
“I don’t know what more I can ask [Kinker] to do,” Beals said. “Tough competitor, man.”
Kinker kept the same calm demeanor throughout his 5.1-inning stint.
“When I get on the mound I’m a completely different person,” Kinker said. “I’m not the goofy guy that talks a ton in the clubhouse before the game, during the game, until I go down to the pen. Once I go down to the pen, once I get loose I don’t worry about anything but me getting on that rubber and facing the guy that’s in the box.”
Indiana also featured four relievers with sophomore Cal Krueger carrying most of the load with 3.2 innings of work.
Junior designated hitter Brady Cherry gave Ohio State its first lead of the game on a laser of a home run in the second inning that knocked in Cowles.
McGowan’s game-winning hit and game-tying hit could not have been much different. The game-winner was a drive into the gap while the base hit to tie the game was a bloop single that scored sophomore shortstop Noah West.
Indiana took its third lead of the game in the seventh inning on an RBI single by sophomore first baseman Scotty Bradley that scored junior second baseman/pitcher Matt Lloyd.
The Buckeyes crafted a response in the following inning, loading the bases with one out for senior left fielder Tyler Cowles. He delivered a single to score junior second baseman Kobie Foppe and tie the game at five.
Both teams’ shortstops made game-changing plays. West chopped down senior right fielder Logan Sowers at home plate to prevent a run in the third inning. Indiana sophomore Jeremy Houston finished with five assists.
Minnesota comes to Columbus next weekend, and Ohio State hopes to maintain the chip on its shoulder.
“I don’t want to be ranked,” Kinker said. “We got a logo that everyone knows across our jerseys every single day. They’re gonna know who we are, they want to overlook us then let them do it.”