COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some late inning heroics in the morning against Marshall and big hitting later in the afternoon against Eastern Michigan added up to a pair of victory for the Ohio State softball team on Sunday in front of their home fans at Buckeye Field.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning vs. Marshall, senior Alex Bayne lofted a ball to left field that the Herd's Jordan Colliflower lost in the sun. Colliflower's thrown into the infield then ending up rolling towards the first base dugout, allowing Bayne to come around from second and score the game-winning run.
Ohio State's defense turned three key double plays against the Herd to get out of jams - In the fourth, Briana Daiss lined out to shortstop Amy Balich, who doubled off Eloise Tribolet at third base. In the seventh, a strike `em, thrown `em out double play was executed as Morgan Ray struck out Elicia D'Orazio and Becca Gavin threw out Eloise Tribolet attempting to steal second. In Marshall's last at-bat, Briana Daiss grounded into a 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
After twice falling behind in late innings, Ohio State came back each time, once thanks to a perfectly executed suicide squeeze in the bottom of the fifth. Ashley Goodwin laid down the bunt while Emily Clark slid in to home, tying the score at 4-4.
In the second game, the Buckeyes jumped on Eastern Michigan early, scoring three times in the bottom of the first and then twice more in the second as Taylor White belted a two-run home to left field to give Ohio State a 5-0 advantage.
STARS OF THE DAY
Emily Clark: 4-7, two doubles, two RBI, three runs scored
Taylor White: 4-8, double, home runs, three RBI
Shelby McCombs: 4.0 IP, four hits, four strikeouts, zero earned runs
Morgan Ray: 3.2 IP, two hits, four strikeouts, zero earned runs
WALK-OFF WINNER VS. MARSHALL
In a back-and-fourth opening game, Ohio State took an early lead, fell behind in the late innings, tied it in the bottom of the sixth and eventually earned a 6-5 victory with a walk off win in extra innings.
Bayne provided the game-winning run, as she doubled to left field when Marshall's Jordan Colliflower lost a high fly ball in the sun. A throwing error in to the infield allowed Bayne to come all the way around from second to slide in for the winning run. Earlier in the contest, Bayne provided a game-tying hit when her sacrifice fly to center scored Gavin, who had reached on a lead-off single.
Ohio State struck for three runs off Marshall starter Kaliee Williamson in the bottom of the first thanks to a RBI single off the bat of Clark, bases load walk to Goodwin and a sacrifice fly from Balich. Buckeye starter Shelby Hursh then sat down the Thundering Herd in order in the top of the second (one two strikeouts) and third innings. In the fourth, Marshall threatened with runners at second and third and nobody out when and infield single scored Morgan Zerkle. The next batter, however, struck out and a key 6-5 double play ended the threat.
The Thundering Herd took the lead in the top of the fifth as three runs scored on three hits, including a two-run double to straight away center field. The Buckeyes, however, responded quickly with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze in the bottom of the inning as Goodwin laid down a bunt that allowed Clark to score from third (she doubled to left center to start the inning).
Marshall would match Ohio State's squeeze with one its own in the top of the sixth, taking a 5-4 lead and looked to tack on more with just one away. Ray, however, got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat.
After tying the game in the bottom of the sixth, Ohio State's defense took center stage in the top of the seventh as Ray struck out Elicia D'Orazio and Gavin threw out base runner Eloise Tribolet attempting to steal second. Another double play -- this one of the 5-4-3 variety -- ended the top of the eighth, setting up Bayne's heroics in the bottom of the inning.
An 11-hit attack was paced by four players who recorded multiple hits -- White (2-for-5, double, stolen base), Clark (2-for-4, double, one RBI), Goodwin (2-for-3, two RBI) and Gavin (2-for-4, one run scored). Pitchers Hursh and Ray combined to strike out 10 with just three walks.
EARLY OFFENSE VS. EASTERN MICHIGAN
Just like in the first game, Ohio State's offense got on the board first with a three-spot in the bottom of the first. The rally started with a Kirk double to left center, an EMU error at shortstop that scored one run and Clark's double to right center that scored Kirk. Bailee Sturgeon made the score 3-0 on an infield single.
White extended the lead to 5-0 in the top of the second with the biggest hit of the afternoon, a towering two-run home run over the left field fence that scored Spencer Sansom, who had reached on a two-out single to left field.
In the circle, starter Shelby McCombs was cruising. She gave up just a first-inning single and then struck out the side in the top of the second. In the third, EMU got a two-out single but the final batter of the inning was retired on a ground out.
Ohio State tacked on its final two run of the evening in the bottom of the fourth as Megan Choinacky delivered a RBI single to center and White collected her third RBI of the game with a sharply hit single up the middle.
Eastern Michigan would score twice in the fifth and once in the sixth but reliever Katya Duvall shut down the Eagles 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. She pitched three innings and gave up four hits with three strikeouts while McCombs' four innings consisted of four strikeouts and four hits given up.
In addition to White's two-for-three performance, Clark also had a pair of hits with a RBI and run scored. On the day, the pair combined to go eight-for-15 with five RBI, three doubles and four runs scored. Ohio State's pitchers, meanwhile, had a 1.87 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 15 innings.
The Buckeyes officially open their 2017 season Feb. 10-12 in College Station, Texas at the Texas A&M Aggie Classic. The full 2017 schedule will be released shortly.