April 6, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tim Wetzel laid down a perfectly-executed bunt to score Greg Solomon in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Ohio State baseball team a 2-1 win over Minnesota Friday night at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes improve to 16-12 on the season, 3-4 in Big Ten play, while the Golden Gophers fall to 17-14, 3-1 in the conference.
“We pitched the ball extremely well, played good defense and we executed the way we needed to in a tight ballgame,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “Jaron (Long) has multiple weapons and tonight he pitched very well. He doesn’t overpower anybody but he beats you with his execution and he proved that again tonight.”
After both pitchers cruised through the first three innings, the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Brad Hallberg walked with two down and came around to score on an RBI double to left-center by Josh Dezse.
The Golden Gophers then threatened with one down in the sixth on a single by Troy Larson and a catchers’ interference call on Greg Solomon, but Ohio State starter Jaron Long induced a groundout by Matt Halloran and a strikeout of cleanup hitter Dan Olinger to keep the Buckeyes ahead 1-0.
Minnesota then tied the game in the top of the eighth when Matt Puhl walked to lead off the inning and came around to score on a two-out RBI single to right by Andy Henkemeyer.
However, the Buckeyes answered right back in the bottom of the frame when Solomon led off the inning with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kirby Pellant to set up the squeeze play by Wetzel.
Dezse then came on and worked a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.
Long picked up the win to move to 2-1 on the season. The sophomore allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out eight over eight innings.
“When I gave up the run I just hoped my teammates could get it back for me,” Long said. “Our hitters did a great job of executing and it’s good to win however you can on Friday. It takes a lot of pressure off your team when you win the first game of the series so hopefully we can come out and play well the rest of the weekend.”
TJ Oakes pitched well for Minnesota, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out nine over eight frames.
The Buckeyes and Golden Gophers play the middle game of the three-game set at 3:05 p.m. Saturday at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.
- Long set a career high with eight strikeouts.
- The game was completed in a brisk one hour and 45 minutes, marking the shortest contest of the season.
- Long and Dezse combined to hold the Gophers to three hits on the night, a season low for Ohio State pitching.
- The Buckeyes are now 12-0 when leading after seven innings and 11-0 when outhitting the opponent.
- Dezse has reached base safely in 27 of 28 contests this season.
- The bottom six hitters in the Minnesota lineup were a combined 0-for-17 against Buckeye pitching.
- Porter singled to extend his hitting streak to three games.