No. 7 Seed Ohio State Edged by No. 2 Seed Nebraska, 7-6, in Big Ten Tournament Opener
May 21, 2014
OMAHA, Neb. – The Ohio State baseball team fell to Nebraska, 7-6, on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Tanner Lubach Wednesday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. With the loss, the Buckeyes drop to 30-27 on the year and will play No. 3 seed Illinois in an elimination game at 10 a.m. ET Thursday.
“Obviously, this is a very disappointing loss but I’m proud of how our guys played,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “We played well for eight innings but the ninth inning got away from us again against Nebraska. Their team is a group of tough competitors. They played well through the finish line so I give them credit for that.”
Nebraska threatened to get on the board first against Ohio State starter Tanner Tully in the bottom of the second. Pat Kelly led off the inning with a single through the left side before moving to second on a passed ball and advancing to third on a groundout by Blake Headley. Tully then hit Lubach to put runners at the corners with one down but responded by striking out Austin Darby and getting Ben Miller to ground out to Nick Sergakis at second to end the threat.
The Buckeyes got on the board against Nebraska starter Chance Sinclair in the top of the fourth. Troy Kuhn led off the inning with a single through the left side and advanced to second when Michael Pritchard bobbled the ball in left. After Sinclair struck out Pat Porter for the first out of the inning, the right-hander hit Josh Dezse before a single to center by Troy Montgomery loaded the bases with one down. Aaron Gretz then laced a double down the left-field line to score Kuhn and Dezse to give the Buckeyes the 2-0 lead. Craig Nennig followed with a safety squeeze bunt to score Montgomery before a wild pitch on a walk to Tim Wetzel plated Gretz to make it a 4-0 Ohio State advantage and chase Sinclair from the game. After the Huskers went to Bob Greco out of the bullpen, Nennig was cut down at the plate on a double-steal attempt but Sergakis came through with a single to right to score Wetzel and, after Ronnie Dawson singled through the right side, Kuhn grounded a single back up the middle to plate Sergakis for the 6-0 Buckeye advantage.
Nebraska got three back off Tully in the bottom of the fifth. Miller and Steven Reveles led off the inning with singles before Tully was able to strike out Ryan Boldt for the first out of the inning. Jake Placzek followed with an RBI double down the left-field line to score Miller before an RBI fielder’s choice on a dribbler back to the mound by Pritchard plated Reveles on a close play at the plate to make it a 6-2 game. Kelly then lined a single off the glove of Nennig at short to score Placzek before Tully got Headley to fly out to left for the second out of the inning. The Buckeye left-hander then walked Lubach but came up with a huge strikeout of Darby to leave the bases loaded and preserve the 6-3 lead.
Tully settled down after the rocky fifth, retiring the next six batters he faced before giving way to Travis Lakins, who tossed a perfect eighth.
Trace Dempsey relieved Lakins to start the ninth but walked Miller before hitting Reveles and walking Boldt to load the bases with nobody out. Dempsey then struck out pinch-hitter Christian Cox for the first out of the inning but walked Pritchard to score Miller to make it a 6-4 game. The Buckeyes then went to Tyler Giannonatti out of the bullpen, who allowed a two run single back up the middle by Kelly to score Reveles and Boldt to tie the game at 6-6. Giannonatti then intentionally walked Headley to load the bases before the walk-off sacrifice fly by Lubach scored Pritchard.
Kuhn finished the day 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored while Dawson also went 2-for-5. Tully battled but received the no-decision, allowing three earned runs on seven hits while striking out a career-high eight over 7.0 innings pitched. Austin Christensen picked up the win with 2.0 scoreless innings of relief to improve to 3-0 on the year while Dempsey suffered the loss, falling to 1-4.