Sophomore shortstop Noah West’s earned a consistent starting role for the Ohio State baseball team almost exclusively because of his defense. He’s batted .232 and slugged .284 resulting in a near-permanent spot at the bottom of the order.
It must have startled the poor baseball West obliterated in the eighth inning, enough that it jumped all the way over the left field fence for a grand slam, West’s first ever.
“It didn’t hit me until I rounded third base and saw coach [Greg Beals] and slapped his hand,” West said.
The blast put Sunday’s game out of reach at 14-6 before another home run made it 16-6, securing a senior day win for the Ohio State Buckeyes (33-17, 13-8 Big Ten) against the Purdue Boilermakers (30-18, 14-6 Big Ten).
He was far from the only underclassman to deliver for the seniors.
“I think everybody was in ‘deliver for senior’ mode today,” Beals said.
Beals specifically referenced a play in the seventh inning where junior catcher Jacob Barnwell went first to third on a wild pitch.
“That’s a momentum thing,” Beals said. “Barnwell played harder than they did, and that hurts the psyche of a ballclub.”
Not everything began so well for the Buckeyes, but down 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth it was West, sophomore Dominic Canzone and junior Kobie Foppe that got the offense humming again with three consecutive doubles to manufacture two runs.
All told, Canzone went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, but arguably more crucial than any of his offense was a throw he made in the seventh to throw out Purdue left fielder Ben Nisle. Nisle was attempting to go first-to-third on a single by right fielder Alec Olund.
“One-run ball game, assist to third base, that’s a pretty big play,” Beals said.
More underclassmen broke the game open in the sixth.
Canzone singled through the right side to score senior first baseman Bo Coolen, and sophomore third baseman Conner Pohl came through for a two-run single with the bases loaded to give the Buckeyes a 7-6 lead.
Combined underclass batters scored 12 of Ohio State’s 16 runs and batted in 10 of them. West finished 3-3 with four runs scored and five RBIs
“The thing about us is, we have fight in us,” West said. “Especially on senior day, we’re not gonna go down without a fight.”