After twice coming up short in opportunities to claim a share of the Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes (35-21) halted their two-game skid, opening the Big Ten Tournament with a 3-2 victory of No. 3 seed Nebraska (26-29)
Two days after receiving All-Big Ten third-team honors, senior right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg held the Huskers in check over 6.2 innings. In his 15th start of the season, Goldberg struck out six Nebraska hitters, scattered five hits while walking four.
Goldberg left with a 2-1 lead thanks to the Buckeyes perfect execution of small-ball.
Freshman DH Zach Ratcliff drove in senior first baseman Brad Hallberg who opened the second inning with a single, moved to second by way of a Jacob Bosiokovic sacrifice bunt and to third when outfielder Mike Carroll grounded out to the left side.
Nebraska made it a 1-1 contest in the fifth when senior outfielder Michael Pritchard collected a two-out RBI-triple. That would be all firepower Darin Erstad's club could muster as Buckeye pitchers held Nebraska to a 1-for-12 effort with runners in scoring position, leaving seven runners on base.
Ohio States go-ahead run came on its lone extra-base hit of the contest, a one-out double to right field from the freshman Bosiokovic that drove in classmate second baseman Troy Kuhn two batters after he drew a leadoff walk.
Nebraska threated in the seventh when senior shortstop Brian Peters placed an opposite-field double just inside the left field line, putting a runner in scoring position with two outs. Ohio State head coach Greg Beals turned to sophomore left-handed pitcher Ryan Riga who induced Pritchard to ground out to Kuhn to end the threat.
Senior right-handed pitcher Brett McKinney kept Nebraska off the board in the eighth inning before Nebraska struck against Ohio State closer Trace Demspey.
In near-identical fashion the the April 13 showdown between the two, Dempsey issued a one-out walk to Nebraska center fielder Austin Darby. In the April meeting between the two, Ty Kildow was placed into the game as a pinch runner on first base, stole second, advancing to third on a throwing error from catcher Greg Solomon.
Solomon was unable to nab Kildow in stealing second, but Kildow stayed there, even though the ball squirted past Kuhn. With two outs Peters singled through the right side to score Kildow, tying the game at 2-2 as Dempsey, one shy of the school and Big Ten record for 18 saves, blew his second consecutive save opportunity.
While Kildow helped the Cornhuskers tie the game, the replacement played a hand in the Bucks walking off victors. Ratcliff skied a ball to center but Kildow was unable to corral it as the ball went in and out of the sun. An intentional walk to pinch-hitter Aaron Gretz was followed OSU outfielder Tim Wetzel sacrificing Pat Porter, pinch runner for Ratcliff, to second. Joe Ciamacco drew a walk on a full count to load the bases with one out.
Ohio State appeared to have won the game as Kuhn was hit by an offering from Nebraska reliever Dylan Vogt, but the home plate umpire called Kuhn back citing he leaned into the pitch.
It was for naught as Kuhn collected a four-pitch walk as the Buckeyes won.
Ratcliff led the Buckeyes at the plate with a 3-for-4, RBI afternoon. Ohio State collected seven walks off Nebraska pitching against six strikeouts.
The Buckeyes will play the winner of Thursday's final game, No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Minnesota for the right to go to Saturday's title game. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET and will be aired lived on the Big Ten Network.