There’s a black screen behind the fence in straight-away center field at Bill Davis Stadium.
With his team trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Ohio State junior right fielder Dominic Canzone smacked a two-run bomb off the top of it.
Canzone’s strike was the final blow in a back-and-forth baseball boxing match, as the Buckeyes (25-23) defeated the Wright State Raiders (34-15) 6-5 Wednesday night.
“We needed momentum going into the weekend, and you need your big time players to come up in games like that,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said.
Wright State dealt the first blow. Junior Jake Vance started on the mound for the Buckeyes. He worked through his opening 1.2 innings with five strikeouts and no runs allowed, but a Wright State double steal led to a two-run single by senior catcher Brandon Giltrow.
The Raiders led 2-0 in the second inning. Vance exited following the frame, sparking a spur of Ohio State relievers who went five deep Wednesday.
Included in those five were junior Joe Gahm, who pitched only 13 innings with a 5.54 ERA entering the game, but held the Wright State lead at 5-4 in a shutout eighth to earn a win.
“That curveball is there, and he’s got confidence in the curveball,” Beals said. “He’s just gotta be able to mix enough to make that curveball even more valuable.”
Junior Andrew Magno picked up his eighth save the following inning.
An inability to elevate hits off soft-tossing freshman Wright State pitcher Sam Wirsing kept Ohio State at bay for the first three innings.
Wirsing entered Wednesday with a reputation for keeping balls on the ground, having surrendered 50 hits in 42 innings while maintaining a 4.07 ERA prior to his start against the Buckeyes.
Junior first baseman Conner Pohl became Ohio State’s first baserunner on a to-the-wall single in the bottom of the second, but sophomore designated hitter Scottie Seymour grounded into a double play.
“We had a lot of hard hits right at people, and that’s always frustrating,” Pohl said. “But that’s part of the game. We get a couple ones that are fisters overtop the infield and stuff, and that’s how people got on base too. The game evens out.”
Ground balls eventually broke through and landed a blow for the Buckeyes in the third. Freshman shortstop Nick Erwin snuck one by the second baseman, junior right fielder Dominic Canzone bounced one past the shortstop, and the bases were loaded with one out.
Erwin came home on a fielder’s choice ground ball to bring Ohio State back within a run.
Wirsing was replaced by freshman pitcher Mitch Gremling in the fourth, and the game opened up a touch more for the Ohio State offense. Gremling walked three straight batters before being replaced, and Pohl scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the score at 2-2.
The Buckeyes failed to capitalize further on the bases loaded, no out situation after a strikeout and a tremendous snag by freshman Wright State first baseman Damon Dues.
Momentum stayed strong now that balls could fly, however. Pohl belted a laser over the right-field wall in the fifth to grab Ohio State’s first lead at 4-2.
“Me and [coach Matt] Angle talked before my AB was saying that he was gonna try to go outer third on me, and try to get me to roll over,” Pohl said. “He was like, ‘Lay off outside. If he comes in, he comes in, and let it eat.’ So basically I was just sitting inside and he came inside.”
Wright State struck back in the seventh. Freshman pitcher Brayden Root entered for the Buckeyes, walked a trio of Raiders and gave up a two-run single to Wright State redshirt senior outfielder Zach Weatherford. The Buckeyes were behind 5-4 entering the seventh-inning stretch.
But Canzone’s two-out no-doubter in the eighth proved the final blow.