With the regular season coming to a close, one could argue that the Ohio State baseball team is playing their best ball of the season. Overlooking a subpar record in midweek contests, the Buckeyes have won three-consecutive conference series and are now one win away from a fourth.
Led by pitcher Tanner Tully, who leads the Big Ten with a 1.79 ERA, the Buckeyes moved closer the postseason with a 1-0 victory over Michigan. The freshman breezed through the Wolverines' lineup time and time again on Friday night, recording three strikeouts on the way to his sixth win of the season. During his career-high nine innings on the mound, Tully scattered six hits and did not walk a single batter.
Meanwhile, Michigan starter Trent Szkutnik was equally impressive, pitching a career-high 8 2/3 innings on Friday. The junior recorded six strikeouts, but a single run in the top of the second was the difference in the game. Szkutnik had five perfect innings on the night, but allowed five hits in the game, three of which came in the crucial second frame.
Pat Porter and Josh Dezse led off the inning with consecutive singles before advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Ronnie Dawson. Terrible base-running by Porter on a ball hit in the infield allowed him to be gunned down at the plate, but Craig Nennig's two-out double would push Dezse home to give the Buckeyes the one run lead.
The Wolverines would fail to threaten the remainder of the game, reaching second base only twice in the first two innings with Tully on the mound. The freshman's complete-game shutout was Ohio State's third of the season, with Ryan Riga achieving the feat at ninth-ranked Oregon and Greg Greve doing so against Penn State.
Both Riga and Greve will have their shot against That Team Up North, as they are scheduled to take the mound on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
With the win, Ohio State improves to 28-22 on the season, while the Wolverines fall to 24-26-1. More importantly, the Buckeyes improve to 9-10 in conference play, good for sixth place in the conference. With a win on Saturday, Ohio State can move past Michigan, who sits at .500 in conference play, for fourth place. The teams continue their three-game set at Michigan's Ray Fisher Stadium on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 pm.