The final game of the midweek series between Ohio State and Campbell on Wednesday afternoon started eerily similar to the first game on Tuesday.
With sophomore right-handed pitcher Jake Vance on the mound, the second straight game with an underclassman starting pitcher, the Buckeyes allowed Campbell to score early, with three runs in the first three innings.
But, despite a comeback attempt with a three-run eighth inning, junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Feltner allowed five runs in the ninth, giving up a grand slam to second baseman Christian Jones, with Ohio State (31-16, 11-7) dropping the second game to Campbell (27-20, 17-4) 13-8 on Wednesday.
With Feltner coming in for his first relief appearance of the season, Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said the usual starting pitcher, who had started 12 games this season for the Buckeyes, held their best shot to continue the momentum his team put up in the bottom of the eighth.
“We scored the runs to get within two and I felt like, ‘Man, let’s bring Feltner in there and put another zero up and give ourselves a really good shot here in the ninth inning,’” Beals said. “That certainly didn’t work out.”
Beals said the 6-foot-4, 195-pound pitcher was overthrowing, uncorking two wild pitches and hitting two batters, and not pitching for location in his 0.1 innings of work. He walked one batter and gave up two hits.
The Buckeyes came in with more of an aggressive approach offensively. After walking 12 times in Tuesday’s contest, Ohio State walked five times and recorded 11 hits, but left seven runners on base.
Sophomore third baseman Connor Pohl, who had three hits in five at-bats including a two-run home run, said he saw Campbell pitchers attack the Ohio State offense more.
“Yesterday, they were really going away, away, away for me, going fastball away and curveball down and away,” Pohl said. “Today, they were trying to go inside a little bit too, so they were trying to attack hitters more.”
On the mound, the Ohio State pitching staff struggled with control. With six walks, including four walks by Vance, the Buckeyes hit eight Fighting Camel batters, the most the staff has hit in a single game this season.
Command issues were widespread among Ohio State’s pitchers in Wednesday’s loss.
“They didn’t command the baseball, 14 free bases” Beals said. “I don’t know if there’s any explanation for it mechanically because it was not just one guy, it was everybody. I don’t know if the wind blowing out, they are trying to be too fine, trying to do too much with the ball, not trusting their stuff.”
Vance could not get a groove going in his start, allowing his fourth home run of the season in the first inning. He left after three innings of work, giving up three earned runs on three hits.
Unlike Tuesday in which the Ohio State bullpen saved the game with seven scoreless innings, Thomas Waning and Curtiss Irving did not have the same success. Both pitchers combined to give up five earned runs on six hits in four innings.
With a three-run deficit in the fourth inning, sophomore left fielder Tyler Cowles hit his fifth home run of the season, cutting Campbell’s lead down to two. He finished the day with two hits in five at-bats, adding on a double and a run in the sixth inning.
Stopping play due to a 35-minute lightning delay, the Ohio State offense showed a little bit of life in the eighth inning, loading the bases with one out. The Buckeyes scored three runs to bring the game to within two runs.
Even with the two-run home run in the ninth inning, the deficit for Ohio State proved to be too much, falling to the Fighting Camels by five runs.
The Buckeyes will begin a three-game series with Purdue at Bill Davis Stadium at 6:35 p.m. Friday.