March 2, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Behind a strong start from Jaron Long and clutch late-inning hitting, the Ohio State baseball team topped rival Michigan, 9-4, in a non-conference game Friday night at Charlotte Sports Park.
With the win, Ohio State improves to 4-3 on the season while Michigan drops to 5-4. The win marked the fourth-consecutive win for the Buckeyes over the Wolverines after a three-game sweep last season at Bill Davis Stadium.
“All you have to say is it’s Ohio State against Michigan,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “That win in itself is huge. One of our goals at the start of the season was to win this Michigan game. It wasn’t the cleanest game but we scrapped, stayed in it and outlasted them today.”
Michigan took the early 1-0 lead in the first when Patrick Biondi reached on an error to start the game and came around to score on an RBI double to left by Michael O’Neill.
The Buckeyes loaded the bases with one down in the top of second when David Corna singled, Brad Hallberg was hit by a pitch and Joe Ciamacco reached on a bunt single but Greg Solomon popped out and Kirby Pellant struck out swinging to end the rally.
Michigan then doubled its lead in the fourth when Brett Winger took Long deep to left for a solo shot and a 2-0 Wolverine lead.
Ohio State responded with a run in the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1. Pellant reached on an error, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Wetzel and, after a fly out by Ryan Cypret, stole third with Josh Dezse at the plate. Michigan starter Brandon Sinnery was able to strike out Dezse but the ball bounced in the dirt and Winger was unable to come up with Cole Martin’s throw down to first base, allowing Pellant to score the Buckeyes’ first run of the game.
After a scoreless sixth, Solomon deposited a solo shot into the left field bullpen to tie the game in the top of the seventh and Long retired the Wolverines in the bottom of the frame as the game headed to the eighth at 2-2.
The Buckeyes then rallied in the top of the eighth to take the lead after Michigan reliever Travis Smith struck out the first two batters of the innings. Hallberg walked to chase Smith from the game and Matt Ogden came on to walk Corna. After a stolen base moved the runners to second and third, Ciamacco lined a two-run single to left to give Ohio State the 4-2 advantage.
However, the Wolverines answered right back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Dezse came on to relieve Long but Michael O’Neill hit a two-run home run to left over the outstretched arm of Ciamacco after Biondi walked to lead off the inning.
Ohio State then used five Michigan walks, a pair of errors and a huge two-run double to left-center by Ciamacco to take the lead and add to it with five runs in the top of the ninth for a 9-4 lead that would cap the scoring.
Long allowed one earned run on six hits while striking out six over seven innings. Dezse picked up his first win of the season while Trace Dempsey came on for the final out and his first career save. Ciamacco led the Buckeyes offensively with a career-high three hits and four RBI.
“There’s really no better feeling in the world,” Ciamacco said of the win. “Growing up in central Ohio, this rivalry is embedded in your blood and there’s no better feeling than to have a big game in a win against them.”
The Buckeyes take on Western Michigan in a doubleheader at Noon Saturday at North Charlotte Regional Park.
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