Four years ago, now-redshirt senior pitcher Thomas Waning was not wearing a scarlet and gray uniform.
Instead, he was wearing navy in his redshirt season for Xavier.
Waning and Ohio State (21-17, 4-5 Big Ten) cruised past Xavier (14-23, 5-1 Big East) by a score of 8-5. Big games from Waning and junior right fielder Dominic Canzone allowed for the Buckeyes to win their fifth game in the past six games.
In his third year with the Buckeyes, Waning received his first start Tuesday, but he wasn’t slated to be the starter until a few hours before the game.
“Mitch Milheim wasn’t able to pitch tonight. He’s actually in surgery for having his appendix removed,” head coach Greg Beals said.
This forced the staff to call upon Waning. The right hander had logged 11.2 innings in 12 appearances for Ohio State on the season, but the nerves were still there for the redshirt senior.
“[I was] a little nervous,” Waning said. “It’s been six years since I started, since high school.”
Waning entered the contest with a 6.17 ERA and a 9-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The redshirt senior would not allow a baserunner through the first 3.2 innings of his start. He would finish the day with four scoreless innings pitched, the longest outing of his career, and one hit allowed in his first career win.
“To get four from him was more than we expected,” Beals said. “Really happy for Thomas.”
Canzone would electrify the game with both his fielding and hitting abilities. Defensively, the co-captain would lay out to record two catches in the outfield.
“Those were huge for Thomas to settle in and not have to work with a man on base and under pressure,” Beals said.
In the batter’s box, Canzone would emphatically increase his on-base streak to 34 games.
With two outs in the second inning, Canzone launched a moonshot home run over the right field wall on his first pitch to extend the lead to three.
“There are guys out there that have the ability to find the barrel of the bat, and Dom is certainly that guy,” Beals said.
Canzone would record three hits and two runs on the game, bringing his batting average to .368 on the season.
Senior left fielder Brady Cherry was able to launch a two-run home run over the left field wall later in the second.
On the year, Canzone and Cherry have combined for 19 of the team’s 36 home runs this season.
“For me and Cherry, I consider us leaders on this team,” Canzone said. “I just have a feeling that we can lead our team in every single game, and I just want to take as much pressure as I can off the other guys.”
The Xavier pitching staff had been prone to allowing home runs all season, and Tuesday was no different. After allowing 47 coming into the game, the Musketeers were taken yard two times by the Ohio State bats.
The Buckeyes jumped on the Musketeers early with an RBI single from junior first baseman Conner Pohl in the first inning.
Redshirt sophomore designated hitter Brent Todys brought home the second run of the inning with a single to left-center field.
Pohl earned his second RBI of the game and 26th of the year with his first-career triple. Sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler and freshman third baseman Zach Dezenzo would knock in the second and third runs of the fourth inning.
The Buckeyes would do the bulk of their damage with two outs. With a .533 two-out batting average, Ohio State would scratch across seven runs with two outs.
“It tells me something that the focus, the lock in, and the compete mode is strong,” Beals said.
Cherry would try his hand at pitching for the fourth time this season, but a grand slam by senior shortstop Chris Givin capped off a five-run eighth inning for the Musketeers and the outing for Cherry.
Junior pitcher Andrew Magno picked up his sixth save of the year.
“Andrew is coming into himself. He’s always had great stuff,” Beals said.
Ohio State will resume Big Ten play at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Maryland.