A plethora of errors cost Ohio State in the critical moments of Friday’s game.
Ohio State (16-14, 2-2 Big Ten) was routed by Northwestern (12-14, 2-2 Big Ten) with a 13-5 loss to the Wildcats. The Buckeyes committed four errors, two of which came in a tight ballgame in the eighth inning.
The sloppy ending has left a sour taste in the mouth of an Ohio State team that has now dropped three straight games.
“[It was] hurtful to the baseball passionate human being that’s inside of me,” head coach Greg Beals said.
With one out and a runner on second in the top of the eighth inning, a hard ground ball to first base went through junior first baseman Conner Pohl’s legs. This allowed senior first baseman Willie Bourbon to score and give Northwestern the 6-5 lead.
After an errant throw down to second that went into the outfield later in the inning, freshman catcher Michael Trautwein was able to advance to third base. A fastball that escaped the glove of sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler allowed Trautwein to score and increase the lead to two runs.
Mistakes and inconsistent play have plagued Ohio State throughout the season, a trend that junior right fielder Dominic Canzone said needs to change.
“I know we are young out there, but we need to step up and grow up real quick,” Canzone said.
Before the costly mistakes in the eighth inning, the story of the game was the starting pitching for both teams.
Sophomore pitcher Quinn Lavelle had been Northwestern’s best starter all season. The left-handed pitcher came into the game with 3.66 ERA in seven games.
Dating back to last season, Lavelle had allowed three or less runs in eight of his past nine starts. In his most recent appearance, he earned his second win of the season with a complete-game shutout against San Jose State.
In his first four innings against Ohio State, Lavelle allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits. He was able to find his rhythm for the next three innings, however, as he would not allow a single hit after the fourth inning.
“After four innings, we just went somewhere else,” Beals said.
Lavelle would finish the day with five runs allowed in seven innings pitched. Not only did he not walk a single batter, but he never had a count with three balls throughout his third win of the season.
On the Ohio State side, freshman pitcher Garrett Burhenn had been in a groove this season. With an ERA of 3.05 coming into this weekend, the right-handed pitcher had provided an average start length of more than six innings, the highest on the team.
Burhenn was coming off a seven-inning performance against Rutgers in which he allowed only two runs on six hits.
Although tying his season high with four walks allowed, Burhenn was able to go six innings against Northwestern.
“I thought Garrett Burhenn had a workman-like outing for us,” Beals said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, but he gets us six innings deep.”
Burhenn allowed only three runs on four hits. The righty has now strung together two straight games with five strikeouts.
After the Wildcats struck first, senior left fielder Brady Cherry was able to knot the score back up with a one-out single to left field to bring Canzone home in the third inning.
Canzone was able to extend his reached-base streak to a career-high 26 games. He would finish the game with three hits, his sixth three-hit game of the season.
With the bases loaded later in the inning, freshman third baseman Zach Dezenzo delivered a two-out double to right center field that cleared the bases, making the score 4-1.
This was Dezenzo’s third game with three RBIs on the season.
A double error on freshman outfielder Nolan Clegg allowed a non-threatening single to knock in a runner from first base, and Trautwein was able to advance to third.
This would prove significant, as a wild pitch brought home Trautwein to make the score 4-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Cherry was able to deliver his second RBI of the day with a single up the middle to move the score to 5-3 after four innings. This was Cherry’s eighth multiple-RBI game on the year.
Cherry would finish with two hits on the day.
The Wildcats were able to cut the deficit in half with a sacrifice fly from junior designated hitter Alex Erro. On the next at bat, a deep ball hit to left center field brought home the tying run, but Cherry, Dezenzo and Dingler were able to relay and catch the final out at the plate to end the top of the seventh inning.
This was the second Northwestern runner to be caught at home plate.
The Wildcats would add six more runs in the ninth inning, including a grand slam from sophomore left fielder Casey O’Laughlin. The Wildcats would score a total of 10 runs in the final three innings.
Eight of Northwestern’s nine starters crossed home plate on the day.
“We play three-game series for a reason,” Beals said. “One game doesn’t determine who is the better team.”
Ohio State will resume the series against Northwestern at 3:05 p.m Saturday.