The Buckeye pitching staff ranks in the Top 30 nationally in walks per nine innings (ninth), WHIP (13th) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (14th). With sophomore Trace Dempsey in a tie for third nationally with 16 saves, the Buckeyes are in good shape when they can scrap together a few runs, as evident by their 32-4 record when scoring at least two runs.
But the Buckeyes were unable to score two runs in any contest as they stepped outside of the Big Ten and faced the Oregon Ducks. In fact, Ohio State was unable to score two runs over the entire 29-inning series as the Ducks flew out of Columbus winners of all three, leaving Greg Beals and his club searching for offensive answers as the postseason nears.
Game 49: 3-1, (11), L
Against an All-American closer, Ohio State drew a two-out walk and tallied a single to load the bases. With the tying run in scoring position, senior second baseman Ryan Cypret struck out swinging on a Jimmie Sherfy slider to end the game.
The not-enough moment capped a maddening contest for the Buckeyes which saw only one of Oregon's three runs score as earned, 13 men left of base and the Bucks waste a dominant outing from senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg.
Retiring the first nine Oregon batters he faced, Goldberg committed a throwing error on a bunt after Oregon left fielder Brett Thomas led off the fourth with a single. While the senior hurler induced a 6-4-3 double play in his next at-bat, it was enough to score Thomas from third.
The contest remained 1-0 until the sixth when senior shortstop Kirby Pellant skied a double to left-center, advancing to third on an Oregon fielding error. Two batters later, freshman third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic drove in Pellant with a through the left-side. The game-tying run would be the last tally for either team over the next four innings.
The Ducks broke the stalemate in the 11th as Ohio State duplicated it's fourth-inning efforts. Following a leadoff single, senior righty Brett McKinney committed a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, sending Thomas again to third base, allowing Payne to reach first as he did in the fourth. Following an intentional walk to load the bases, force an out at every base, Mitchell Tollman lined a two-run single up the middle, providing the Ducks with the game-winner.
Goldberg allowed just the unearned run in seven innings, striking out six with one walk in the no-decision. Five Buckeyes finished with multi-hit afternoons as the Buckeyes out-hit the Ducks 11-7, but Pellant's double was the only extra-base hit of the contest.
Game 50: 4-0, L
Where the Buckeyes couldn't find the crucial hit in the series opener, the nightcap of the rain-forced Saturday twinbill saw the Buckeyes unable to generate a hit nearly at all.
Finishing with six hits, Ohio State never strung together multiple hits in an inning. An error that allowed senior first baseman Brad Hallberg to follow a Tim Wetzel double in the third inning was the only time Ohio State had two baserunners in an inning.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Cole Irvin proved too much for Ohio State to handle. A 29th-round draft pick out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays, Irvin is one of the nation's top freshmen, and his six-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and one walk showed why.
All of the offense Irvin would need came in the first when Tollman ripped a two-out single up the middle, scoring Payne who stole second after recording an one-out single. Oregon would strike Ohio State senior left-handed pitcher Brian King for a pair of runs off three hits in the third, tacking on a run off two hits in the fifth for the final tally. King dropped to 7-5 in allowing four runs, all earned, off eight hits in six innings.
Game 51 1-0, L
With both teams entering the weekend with .268 team averages, a pair of clubs in the top-20 in multiple pitching categories, a 1-0 pitcher's duel was a fitting end to the weekend. Unfortunately the Bucks were on the wrong side as they ended the weekend with a season-high three-game losing streak.
Showing the form that made him a 2012 All-Big Ten First-team selection, junior right-handed pitcher Jaron Long was brilliant.
In seven innings, Long struck out nine batters, allowed one run while scattering seven hits, walking none. But Oregon sophomore right-hander Jake Reed was up to the task of matching Long, going seven strong himself, keeping the Buckeyes off the scoreboard as he walked three, allowed three hits and struck out four.
But right away it appeared Ohio State had a grand chance to plate a run, perhaps getting a big inning off the Oregon starter. Seniors Joe Ciamacco and Cypret led off the game with back-to-back walks. Pellant followed with an attempt to advance the runners, but Cypret was out at second on the fielder's choice while Pellant reached first. Before sophomore Pat Porter, the Buckeyes leader in extra-base hits with 20, had the opportunity to drive in a run, Pellant broke for second, was caught stealing, on the same play that Ciamacco broke for home and was caught stealing as well.
Adding insult to the Buckeye gaffe was Porter leading off the next inning with a sharp drive up the middle.
The threat was the best of the day for the Bucks. Oregon used back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth in front of back-to-back wild pitches to score its lone run of the game.
Under the adjusted-RPI formula, the three losses equaled an 0-3.9 weekend, negating the boost in strength of schedule. Ohio State's RPI fell from 51 to 58.
Saturday's attendance of 2,225 marked a season high at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium, the first time cracking the 2,000 spectator mark.
Ohio State pitchers compiled a 1.39 ERA against the No. 6 Ducks.
Goldberg tied his career high with 7.0 innings pitched in Game 1
Long has struck out at least seven hitters in three of his last four starts.
Oregon head coach George Horton improved to 5-1 in Bill Davis Stadium. Horton led Cal State-Fullerton to a 2-1 Super Regional win en route to the 1999 College World Series.
Around the Big Ten
During Ohio State's bye week, the Buckeyes stayed put in the Big Ten standings. Thanks to Indiana taking two-of-three from Northwestern with Nebraska winning its road series two-of-three in Minneapolis, the top of the Big Ten remains up for grabs. Indiana leads at 15-6 while Ohio State is in a three-way tie for second at 14-7 joined by Nebraska and 12-6 Minnesota.
Illinois and Michigan with identical 12-9 conference marks would round out the Big Ten Tournament field as of today, following Illinois sweeping Penn State and Michigan gaining two wins over Purdue. Michigan State sits one-half game back at 10-8 after dropping two road contests to Iowa. Michigan State and Minnesota lost an earlier series due to snow forcing the Big Ten standings to go by winning percentage.
Northwestern (9-15), Iowa (7-14), Purdue (6-14) and Penn State (3-18) round out the standings.
There is no reprieve in Ohio State's schedule as the Buckeyes welcome another top-ten foe to Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. No. 10 Louisville flocks to Columbus as the 42-10 Cardinals are the opponent for Ohio State's Tuesday 6:35 first-pitch contest.
The game, to be televised lived on BTN, will feature Ohio State junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Giannonatti (0-2, 4.25) squaring off against Louisville freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser (3-1, 1.59). The Big East's second-place club holds an 8-3 edge in the all-time series, winners of seven-consecutive. Ohio State last defeated Louisville on March 15, 1992 with a 12-1 conquest.