Ohio State senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg has long been a Buckeye. His grandparents attended Ohio State and his father is a Columbus native. For years Goldberg has dreamed of donning the Scarlet and Gray.
And when his time finally arrived, he delivered in a big way.
After Ohio State dropped a ten-inning affair to Mercer, 6-5, to open the 2013 season, then received a 13-3 thumping at the hands of Notre Dame, the Buckeyes were facing the prospect of going 0-3, preparing to take on a St. John's team with the hope of avoiding a winless opening weekend for the first time since 2004. Expected to contend for a Big Ten championship, a 0-3 start would have been unacceptable in the eyes of the team.
Needing the win, Ohio State turned to Goldberg, the fifth-year senior who last pitched on April 17, 2010 as a Chanticleer at Costal Carolina. Forced to sit out the 2011 after transferring from the Big South program, Goldberg was deemed ineligible to compete in the 2012 season due to a credit hour shortage stemming from the transfer. Goldberg and Ohio State petitioned to the NCAA, that he was in the process of rectifying the situation, but the ruling was upheld.
With talent that likely would have seen him drafted each of the past two seasons had he played and performed at an expected level, one can imagine the agony of being forced to sit on the sidelines. While Goldberg was at the school he wished to attend out of high school, but he was not doing what he wanted, unable to take to the field with his teammates.
The Beachwood, Ohio native has shined in intra-squad scrimmages and practices in each of the last two offseasons. Ohio State coaches and players knew what he was capable of, but it wasn't a certainty that Goldberg would be able to keep the goose egg of the Buckeyes record.
Thirty-four months after last toeing the rubber in a collegiate game, Goldberg performed as if no layoff ever occurred.
"A lot of mixed emotions," Goldberg said speaking on what Sunday meant as Greg Beals' lineup card had a 1 next to his name. "It was definitely a different experience knowing I had to go pitch, it wasn't an intra-squad game or summer game, but a real meaningful game that counts. I definitely had to calm myself down."
"Secondly, I knew we needed a win and it was a big game for us, we can't get swept the first weekend, that unacceptable."
In the big game, the physical 6'2, 225 hurler came up big against the 2012 Tucson Super Regional participants.
Ohio State's bats struggled to generate any offense the entire weekend, carrying a .232 average in 99 at-bats over the three games, Goldberg put zero after zero on the scoreboard.
Goldberg debuted with a 1-2-3 inning for the Bucks, and through the first three innings had four strikeouts, limiting St. John's two a single and a pair of walks.
"I was going sinker-cutter for the most part, wasn't trying to show them too much early. We were mixing late but I was pretty much going cutter-sinker the entire time."
The Buckeyes bats produced only two hits through the six innings, but Goldberg likewise stymied the Johnnies. Crediting senior catcher Greg Solomon with calling a good game, Goldberg went to a three-ball count twice all day, surrendering only two singles while walking two batters.
"I've thrown to Solly for two years, we have a pretty good relationship. For the most part, I never shake Greg. Solly is great behind the plate defensively and calling a game, just as we've been preparing for. It's nothing different in the game, we just have to execute."
And if executing, his teammates knew he was capable of.
Holding off St. John's just long enough, after working seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out seven, the Buckeyes provided Goldberg, the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, with three runs in the home-half of the seventh ensuring him of a win in his first start with a 3-1 victory, avoiding the winless weekend.
"We were down (after Saturday's game) but we weren't in panic mode. I think everyone knew it was only the second game, but I don't think anyone was very happy with how we played. I think the best thing for us was that quick turnaround. Maybe my excitement helped us out."
When reflecting on his in-game attitude, Goldberg did what was needed to pitch at a high level, but there was no masking his joy.
"I was just trying to take it one pitch at a time. Early in the game I felt myself kind of rushing, I took step back and took a couple of deep breaths. I was going out there competing, but just happy to be out there to be honest. "
Now as Ohio State seeks it's a Big Ten championship, looking to end a three-year NCAA Tournament drought, what does it mean that Goldberg can take a part in getting the Buckeyes there?
"It's everything and more, I have a lot of pride in this school."
Below is video of Goldberg from Ohio State's October scout day: