After twice battling back from three-run deficits, after three ties and three scoreless extra innings, senior center fielder Ridge Winand broke through for the Buckeyes.
Three home runs were blasted by Ohio State Saturday, but, after all the fanfare, all it took was a single that scored junior first baseman Conner Pohl to put the Buckeyes over-the-top.
Facing elimination, Ohio State (36-25) won a 13-inning slugfest against McNeese State (35-26) by a 9-8 final to advance to the Nashville regional semi-final in the NCAA tournament.
What transpired Saturday was a back-and-forth affair which saw the Buckeyes refuse defeat and ride the arm of junior reliever Andrew Magno to victory.
A three-run sixth earned the Cowboys their third lead, a two-out single by senior center fielder Shane Selman securing two runs and an 8-5 advantage. Magno came on three batters earlier to provide damage control, one run was his.
The Buckeyes responded by tying the game a third time. Redshirt junior second baseman Matt Carpenter and freshman third baseman Nick Erwin each contributed RBI knocks to a three-run eighth that evened the score at 8.
Magno was rolling from there. He pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings without allowing a runner to advance past first base.
Into extra innings he worked, pitching out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the 10th, going three-up, three-down with a strikeout in the 11th, and topping that by striking out the side in the 12th. In an NCAA regional, Magno pitched a career high 7.1 innings with one earned run and 12 strikeouts to deliver a win after another three-up, three-down 13th.
On the flipside, McNeese State senior pitcher Peyton Mclemore baffled Ohio State hitters through four shutout innings starting in the eighth. The two dueled into the 13th until Mclemore cracked against Winand.
The 13th inning was the only time Ohio State led after the first.
The Cowboys expanded an early edge to 4-1 in the third inning after Ohio State redshirt freshman pitcher Seth Lonsway issued three walks and junior first baseman Jake Dickerson doubled home a run.
Ohio State was not to be deterred. Freshman shortstop Zach Dezenzo belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 4-3.
Senior left fielder Brady Cherry followed that up with a fourth-inning bomb of his own, tying the game at 4.
McNeese State took back the lead the following inning, Dickerson grabbing a fielder’s choice RBI.
Junior right fielder Dominic Canzone evened the score again on Ohio State’s third home run of the day before all the late-game battling commenced.
Ohio State was not projected to make the NCAA tournament by D1Baseball, but earned an automatic bid after winning the Big Ten tournament in unprecedented fashion May 26.
No. 2 Vanderbilt handed the Buckeyes their first loss in the regional by an 8-2 final, with each Commodore run being batted in by a different player. A solo home run by Pohl proved one of the few highlights for Ohio State.
The team awaits the loser of Vanderbilt and Indiana State, the top two seeds in the four-team region, for another elimination game.