Talkin’ Baseball: Buckeyes Sweep Four Games in Florida
By Andrew Lind
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Don’t look now but the Buckeyes are rolling. After dropping their first two games of the season down in Sarasota, Greg Beals and his Ohio State baseball team have ripped off five straight victories.
They improved their record to 5-2 on the young season with four big wins during a three-day stretch down Port Charlotte, Fla. over the weekend.
Coming off a one-win weekend in Sarasota to open the year, Ohio State traveled south to Port Charlotte, a harbor town between Sarasota and Fort Myers, for two games apiece against South Dakota State and Mount St. Mary’s.
The Jackrabbits entered the contests with an unblemished record, while the Mountaineers came in at 2-1, but Ohio State took all four games. They outscored South Dakota State 15-4 in the first two games of the weekend before scorching Mount St. Mary’s in the final two contests by a combined 26-6 score.
Photo by Jim Davidson
On Friday, the Buckeyes did not need to rely on All-Big Ten pitcher Jaron Long to tame the Jackrabbits. Instead, they took advantage of the bats.
“Our pitching was solid, but it was good to bust out the bats,” said Beals, a Kent State alum in his second year as the OSU baseball skipper.
“We put together quality at-bats and it was key for the offense to show up.”
Timely hits with runners in scoring position gave the Buckeyes a 4-2 lead, while a six-run bottom of the eighth inning broke the game open, extending the lead to 10-2.
Long earned his first win of the season, allowing only two runs on six hits while striking out six. Ryan Riga and Brett McKinney, who earned his first career save, were stellar in three scoreless innings of relief for Long, who earned his first victory of the season.
The Buckeyes faced a day/night double-header on Saturday, with an early afternoon game against South Dakota State followed by a nightcap against Mount St. Mary’s.
Senior left-hander Brian King tossed seven strong innings against the Jackrabbits in the first game of the day, allowing two runs, neither earned, in the 5-2 win.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Later that night, transfer Brad Goldberg (Coastal Carolina) went 6 1/3 hitless frames with 10 strikeouts in a lopsided 13-2 game before being pulled due to a high pitch count. Goldberg became the first Buckeye to strike out 10 since Alex Wimmers sat down 10 against Penn State in April 2010.
“We played well today and both of our starters gave our bats a chance to get going,” Beals said of the double-header.
To wrap up the Port Charlotte trip, the Buckeyes faced off against The Mount for a final time on Sunday.
With timely singles from Troy Kuhn, Greg Solomon and Kirby Pellant, followed by three walks and a hit batter, the Buckeyes plated five funs in the bottom of the fourth inning to break open a close game. Ohio State tacked on three more runs after a double, triple and an error, making the final score 13-4.
After two weekends of play, Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring and the pitching staff ranks third in the conference in earned run average, with a 3.38 ERA.
Gretz, Goldberg and infielder Troy Kuhn combined to take all three Big Ten weekly awards coming off the four-game sweep down in Port Charlotte. Gretz earned Big Ten Player of the Week laurels while Goldberg was named Pitcher of the Week for the second-consecutive week and Kuhn garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
The Buckeyes hope to keep things rolling this coming weekend when they travel back to Florida for the final time this season. They open the weekend in Deland, Fla. with a game against Connecticut at 1 p.m. on Friday before taking on Stetson at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Ohio State wraps up the trip against Central Michigan on Sunday at noon.