With postseason aspirations, every game from here on out is a must-win for the Ohio State baseball squad. This weekend's series with Purdue was no exception, as both teams are fighting for the eight seed in the conference tournament.
After dropping Friday's opener in 13 innings, the Buckeyes found themselves in an all-too-familiar position. A common theme this season, the Buckeyes battled back to take the final two games of the series.
While they had previously managed only five runs in Friday and Saturday's contests, the Buckeyes more than doubled that output in the finale. The scarlet and gray jumped all over Purdue starter Adam Dressler in the top of the first, starting the game off with back-to-back base hits to gain a one run advantage. A throwing error then moved Pat Porter ahead and allowed Josh Dezse to reach first base before Troy Montgomery beat out an infield single to load the bases. The Buckeyes would extend the lead to three when Aaron Gretzky sent a pitch back up the middle for a two-run base knock.
Purdue would respond off of Ohio State starter Greg Greve, plating a single run in the bottom of the first inning. A leadoff double off of the left-field wall, followed by an error on a throw to first allowed the Boilermakers to cut the lead to two. Ohio State would continue their onslaught, tacking on five more runs in the top of the second frame. A leadoff single by Tim Wetzel put pressure on Dressler, who plunked Nick Sergakis with his next pitch before being lifted from the game. Freshman Ronnie Dawson dropped down a perfect bunt against reliever Matt Gibbs to advance the runners before Troy Kuhn plated another with a sacrifice fly. Gibbs would walk the next four batters he faced, scoring Sergakis and Porter along the way.
The Boilermakers would then call upon their third pitcher of the game with the bases loaded. A single by shortstop Craig Nennig and a throwing error would make it 8-1 in favor of the road team before Mike Lutz could escape the inning. Ohio State would add another against Lutz in the third, as Dezse's single brought home Kuhn, who was standing on third after a base knock and an error landed him 90 feet away.
The Buckeyes ran the score to 11-1 in the top of the fourth, their highest offensive output since a 12-6 win over Penn State earlier this month. Consecutive singles to lead off the inning by Gretz and Nennig and a sacrifice bunt by Wetzel moved two runners into scoring position for Sergakis, whose single scored the lead runner and forced the home team to call upon their bullpen once more. New pitcher Connor Podkul got Dawson to ground into a fielder's choice, but Kuhn's single to left have the Buckeyes a ten run advantage.
Overshadowed by the offensive explosion, Greve cruised through Sunday's outing. The senior tossed seven stellar innings, at one point retiring 16 of the 17 batters he faced. In his fifth victory of the season, Greve allowed only four hits, striking out a pair. Purdue could only muster a single run in the ninth against Ohio State's bullpen, giving the Buckeyes a series-clinching 11-2 victory on Sunday.
Ohio State improves to 25-19, but most notably to 6-9 in the Big Ten. The win, coupled with Penn State's loss to Minnesota, gives the Buckeyes sole possession of eighth place in the conference. While not an ideal position in the standings, the team must finish eighth or above in order to qualify for the conference tournament. The Buckeyes finish their four-game roadtrip in Louisville against the nationally-ranked Cardinals. Sitting at 33-11, 11-4 in the American Athletic Conference, the 12th-ranked Cardinals pose the biggest test to the Buckeyes since their four-game set at Oregon and Oregon State. First pitch is set for 6:05 pm on Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium.