After the Northwestern series, Ohio State’s bullpen seemed to be in shambles. But that very bullpen was the reason the Buckeyes were able to pull out a win against Dayton.
In a game where the Buckeyes were short on hits, the bullpen produced five scoreless innings. Ohio State (18-16, 2-4 Big Ten) outdueled Dayton (18-14-1, 7-2 Atlantic 10) 4-2 on Wednesday.
In its past home series, the Ohio State bullpen had an ERA of 23.63.
With the game hanging in the balance in the eighth inning, junior pitcher Jake Vance was faced with a bases loaded situation.
“Whenever it’s bases loaded, I just try to hit another level and turn it up a notch.” Vance said.
The right-handed pitcher was able to calmly record the final two outs of the inning to keep the score 2-2.
“[Vance] showed mental toughness,” head coach Greg Beals said. “In the face of adversity, he executed pitches and was really, really good.”
Vance had been the usual midweek starter, but after a stretch of struggling, he moved into the reliever role.
“Some of my starts haven’t been as good as I wanted them to be, so I kind of told them that I wouldn’t mind coming out of the pen,” Vance said.
Despite his past struggles, Vance was able to deliver a strong performance Wednesday.
Vance would finish the game with four scoreless innings of work. Vance would strike out four and allow only three hits in his third win on the year.
With both teams playing in their second weekday game, two freshmen pitchers were called upon to make their starting debuts.
Freshman pitcher Mitch Milheim had made 10 appearances for the Buckeyes. The left-hander had struggled in his short time on the mound, allowing 15 runs in only 12 innings of work.
In his first collegiate start, Milheim was able to deliver a much needed four innings for the Buckeyes. He would finish with two earned runs allowed and three strikeouts.
“Moving [Milheim] into the start role today, probably the best he has pitched all year for us,” Beals said.
Freshman pitcher Dylan Keller had realized more success, but he had only logged nine innings on the hill for the Flyers. Keller had an ERA of 2.00, but the freshman had more walks than strikeouts on the season.
Keller allowed two runs in his six-inning start. He struck out two and allowed three hits.
Junior right fielder Dominic Canzone came into Wednesday’s game riding the longest reached-base streak since then-sophomore outfielder Troy Montgomery reached base safely in 37 consecutive games between 2015 and 2016.
Canzone was able to extend his streak to 30 against Dayton. The co-captain would finish the game with two hits and two runs.
Dayton was able to crack the scoreboard first with a two-run third inning.
The Buckeyes were able to strike back in the bottom half of the inning. Freshman third baseman Zach Dezenzo was able to scamper home after a wild pitch to cut the deficit in half.
Ohio State tied the game at two with a sacrifice fly ball from senior left fielder Brady Cherry in the bottom of the sixth inning.
A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth gave Ohio State’s its first lead of the contest. A sacrifice fly ball to left field by sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler pushed the lead to two runs.
Ohio State would win the game with only five hits.
“Not like we banged the ball around the ballpark, but we took advantage of the opportunities we had,” Beals said.
Ohio State junior pitcher Andrew Magno completed the pitching performance with a hitless ninth inning, earning his fifth save on the season.
Ohio State will begin its three-game series against Michigan at 6:35 p.m. Friday.