May 23, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The No. 2 seed Ohio State baseball team won its Big Ten Tournament-opening game against No. 3 seed Nebraska when Troy Kuhn plated Pat Porter with a bases-loaded walk-off walk for a 3-2 victory Thursday at Target Field. The Buckeyes improve to 35-21 on the season and will play top-seeded Indiana at 7:05 p.m. CT Friday.
“We scratched and clawed to win a ballgame today,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “It wasn’t the prettiest way to get it done but our guys fought and were able to bounce back with another run in the ninth inning. It was very important for our team to come back after the blown save and still realize that we had an opportunity ahead of us in the bottom of the ninth. We’ve put ourselves in good position so far and are looking forward to tomorrow night.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Buckeyes took the lead with a run off Nebraska starter Aaron Bummer in the bottom of the second. Brad Hallberg singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jacob Bosiokovic, advanced to third on a groundout to second by Mike Carroll and scored on a two-out single up the middle by Zach Ratcliff for the 1-0 advantage.
The Huskers threatened in the top of the fourth against Ohio State starter Brad Goldberg. Pat Kelly doubled to left to lead off the inning and, after a strikeout of Chad Christensen, Kash Kalkowski reached on a walk to put runners on first and second with one down. Kuhn then saved a run as he robbed Blake Headley by making a diving stop of a grounder in the hole between first and second and Goldberg ended the inning by inducing a fly out to left by Josh Scheffert to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Nebraska then got on the board against Goldberg in the top of the fifth. Austin Darby led off the inning with an infield single and eventually came around to score on a two-out triple to left-center by Michael Pritchard to tie the game at 1-1.
Ohio State put runners on second and third with one down in the bottom of the frame after Carroll walked, Ratcliff singled and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Wetzel. However, Bummer bounced back with a strikeout of Greg Solomon for the second out of the inning and Pritchard robbed Joe Ciamacco of a hit with a sliding catch in left to end the inning and keep it a 1-1 game.
After Goldberg tossed a scoreless top of the sixth, the Buckeyes were able to take the lead off Bummer in the bottom of the inning. Kuhn walked to lead off the inning and Kirby Pellant was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with nobody out. After Hallberg struck out for the first out of the inning, Bosiokovic doubled to deep right to score Kuhn for the 2-1 lead. Carroll then flew to left and Pellant tried to tag up and score but Pritchard made a perfect throw to the plate to cut Pellant down and keep it a 2-1 game after six.
With two down in the top of the seventh, Goldberg allowed a ground-rule double to Bryan Peters before being pulled in favor of left-hander Ryan Riga. Riga got the job done as he got Pritchard to ground out to second to end the inning and preserve the 2-1 advantage.
Brett McKinney came on for the top of the eighth and got Kelly to fly out to lead off the inning but Christensen followed with an infield single and advanced to second. However, the senior right-hander was able to get Kalkowski and Headley to fly out to end the inning and keep the Buckeyes on top 2-1.
After the Buckeyes got two on but couldn’t move anything across against Nebraska reliever Dylan Vogt in the bottom of the eighth, Ohio State called upon Trace Dempsey to close it out in the top of the ninth. Dempsey struck out pinch-hitter Rich Sanguinetti to lead off the inning before walking Darby with one down. The sophomore right-hander got Tanner Lubach to fly out before pinch-runner Ty Kildow stole second to put a runner in scoring position with two down. Peters, down to his last strike, followed with a single through the left side to score Kildow and make it a 2-2 game.
The Buckeyes bounced right back in the ninth when Ratcliff reached on a bloop single to center and Porter, a pinch-runner, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Wetzel. After pinch-hitter Aaron Gretz was intentionally walked, Vogt walked Ciamacco to load the bases before the walk-off walk to Kuhn.
Goldberg didn’t factor in the decision but pitched well, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out six over 6.2 innings pitched. Ratcliff finished the day 3-for-4 with an RBI while Kuhn drew a pair of walks, drove in the game-winning run and scored a run.
Dempsey picked up the win to move to 3-1 on the season while Vogt suffered the loss, dropping to 5-1.
- Zach Ratcliff tallied his second-career multi hit game, both coming in his last three contests. He tied his career high with three hits.
- The Buckeyes improved to 33-5 on the season when scoring three or more runs.
- After he came on to get the final out of the seventh, Ryan Riga has allowed one earned run while striking out 11 in 16.0 innings pitched over his last eight appearances.
- Brett McKinney tossed another scoreless inning and has allowed one earned run while striking out 21 in 15.2 innings pitched over his last 13 appearances.