The Buckeye nine went 4-0 over the weekend, twice disposing of South Dakota State and Mount St. Mary's to run their record to 5-2. As Ohio State players swept the weekly Big Ten honors, Brad Goldberg (pitcher), Aaron Gretz (player), Troy Kuhn (freshman), the Scarlet and Gray batted .374 against the opposition's .170 clip.
While it is nice to sit atop the Big Ten standings after two non-conference weekends, one should look at the opposition before one gets too excited over Ohio State's .316 average and 3.38 ERAl. According to Boyd's World, out of 297 Division I programs South Dakota State finished the 2012 season with an RPI of 276, Mount St. Mary's 285. The Buckeyes should have easily walked over the respective Summit League and Northeast Conference programs. To their credit they did, and here's a recap on how they did in their weekend down in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Game 4, vs. South Dakota State, 10-2, W
The start of Ohio State' four-game weekend was anything but ideal. The Buckeyes fell behind 2-0 after four innings against SDSU, who entered the weekend with two wins against NAIA Waldorf. With junior right-handed pitcher Jaron Long on the mound, the Big Ten's lone returning first-team all-conference pitcher, those two runs off eight hits would be all the Jackrabbits could muster.
The Buckeye bats eventually came around with a two-run fifth aided by a South Dakota State error, which spurred a run of four consecutive innings where Ohio State plated a run. The Buckeyes scored the go-ahead run in sixth, another in the seventh before a six-run outburst in the eighth cemented the game.
Senior left fielder Joe Ciamacco led the Bucks at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Senior first baseman Brad Hallberg collected two hits in four at-bats as he drove in four runs, DH Mike Carroll added a pair of hits as well.
Long received the win as he struck out six in six innings while scattering six hits. Senior right-handed pitcher Brett McKinney received the save as he entered the game with the score 4-2, pitching the final two innings.
Game 5 vs. South Dakota State, 5-2, W
The Buckeye bats were again slow to start against SDSU in the first of two games on Saturday. Trailing 2-1 as they entered the bottom of the fourth, senior second baseman Ryan Cypret followed junior Tim Wetzel's RBI-double with a run-driving single that pushed the Buckeyes in front.
The three runs would be all Ohio State needed as senior left-handed pitcher Brian King held South Dakota State to two runs off four hits over seven innings, striking out six, walking one. Sophomore Trace Dempsey and Senior David Fathalikani each had hitless innings of relief duty.
With three hits, Wetzel led five Buckeyes who had multi-hit games. Carroll, Ciamacco, Cypret and senior catcher Greg Solomon each picked up two knocks. After opening the weekend with a 7-for-7 effort in stolen bases against SDSU, the Buckeyes went 4-for-5 on Saturday.
Game 6 vs. Mount St. Mary's 13-2, W
South Dakota State starters may have kept Ohio State hitters at bay with three earned runs over 11 innings, Mount St. Mary's starters would have no such luck.
Senior shortstop Kirby Pellant opened Saturday's nightcap with a leadoff triple and scored on a Wetzel's grounder to short four pitches later. For a long time the one run and one hit appeared to be all the Buckeyes would need.
After debuting as the Big Ten's Pitching of the Week with a seven innings of scoreless, two-hit, seven-strikeout baseball against St. John's, senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg topped himself against The Mount. Receiving his second conference honor, Goldberg held Mount St. Mary's without a hit for his entire 6.1-inning start. Allowing only three baserunners by way of base-on-balls, Goldberg struck out 10 batters, to sit with 17 on the season against a .050 average.
Junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Giannonatti relieved Goldberg in the seventh and recorded five outs without surrendering a hit. With freshman left-handed pitcher Luke McGee on the mound, the Buckeyes were one out away from the team's tenth no-hitter before Mount St. Mary's Mark Quaranta laced a double down the left field line.
The performance of the Buckeye pitchers was matched by the hitters. Making his first career start, freshman third baseman Troy Kuhn went 3-for-4, an effort matched by Solomon. Junior outfielder Pat Porter picked up his second home run of the season with two-hit day, between the three, nine RBI were tallied.
Game 7 vs. Mount St. Mary's 13-4, W
Ohio State's 16-hit, 13-run attack on Saturday was matched with a 13-run, 15-hit outburst on Sunday.
Kuhn would make it 2-for-2 in going 3-for-4 when starting at third base, Pellant paired with his left infield partner with three hits of his own. Ohio State received another strong performance from sophomore catcher Aaron Gretz as the Minnesota native picked up two doubles and Porter finished the weekend with a 2-for-2 afternoon.
Freshman right-hander Jake Post received the start and allowed three runs over three innings. McKinney received the win as he pitched the sixth and seven innings, allowing one hit without allowing a run, recording five strikeouts.
As they did the day prior, Fathalikhani and Dempsey pitched scoreless innings at the back of the bullpen.
Top pitcher: Goldberg, 6.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K
Top player: Gretz, 5-for-10, 6 R,3 RBI, 4 BB, 3 2B
Hot at the hot corner- With Kuhn's weekend, it will be interesting to see what unfolds at third. Ohio State started the season with freshman Craig Nennig who provides strong defense, but has only two hits in 15 at-bats. Classmate Jacob Bosiokovic has received starts at third when not in left field, but only has three hits in 21 at-bats. Kuhn doesn't have the potential of Bosiokovic, nor the defensive abilities of Nennig, but six hits in eight at-bats, even against sub-par competition is hard to turn a blind eye to. Sophomore Ryan Leffel is making progress as he returns from a wrist injury, but has yet to hit against live pitching and a return does not appear imminent.
Bullpen bullies- Outside of McGee's two run inning, the Ohio State bullpen was brilliant. The core of Dempsey, Fathalikhani, McKinney and sophomore southpaw Ryan Riga pitched 11 innings, allowing one run off six hits as they collected 13 strikeouts. The Buckeyes went another weekend without sending out junior right-handed pitcher Greg Greve, the presumptive closer as two-year closer Josh Dezse is out two months with a stress reaction in his back. If the Buckeye bullpen can keep their success, there is no need for Greve to be rushed back. Giannonatti has pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball in his first season for the Bucks after missing 2012 with Tommy John.
Four and three- The Buckeyes top three hitters Ciamacco (.467), Gretz (.441) and Solomon (.421) pose an interesting predicament for coach Greg Beals. Add in Carroll who is batting .348 and Ohio State is faced with four bats to juggle between catcher (Gretz and Solomon), left field (Carroll and Ciamacco) and DH. Solomon is the lone right-handed bat of the group, when OSU faces a left-handed pitcher he most certainly will be in the lineup. But he is swinging to well to take out even against right-handed pitchers.
The Buckeyes return to Florida, their third and final trip, for three games in DeLand. Participating in the Brighthouse Invitational Tournament, Ohio State will tangle with Connecticut (3-3) on Friday, take on host Stetson (2-4) Saturday, before concluding the weekend with a date against Central Michigan (2-5).