Ohio State baseball: Ghastly bats sink Buckeyes in 6-2 loss

Freshman center fielder Ronnie Dawson rounds first after his third home run of the year. - Chris Webb

Heading to their worst Big Ten season since 1987, Ohio State's offense stalled again, dropping Friday's game and the series to Northwestern.

Four hits will not win many games and it didn't Friday for Ohio State.

Northwestern sophomore left-hander Reed Mason held the Ohio State offense in check, cruising through seven three-hit innings as the visiting Wildcats knocked off Ohio State 6-2. With the loss Ohio State's record sits 29-26 going into the final game of the year, 9-14 in the Big Ten. Northwestern improved their season record to 19-32, 7-15 in conference play.

Outside of left fielder Jacob Bosiokovic stroking a double to right field in the second inning, a fifth-consecutive hit for sophomore, Mason breezed through the Buckeye lineup in their first two at-bats. Through five innings, Bosiokovic was joined by Josh Dezse. a fourth inning walk for the junior first baseman, and sophomore shortstop Craig Nennig, an E5 allowed him onto the base paths, as the lone Buckeyes reach base.

As Reed cruised, it appeared Ohio State freshman Travis Lakins would take a tough-luck loss.

Northwestern opened the scoring in the first inning, manufacturing a run.

On the first pitch of the game, northwestern DH Luke Dauch reached on an infield single on the first pitch of the game. Stealing second off the Buckeye rookie, Dauch moved to third on a sacrifice hit, crossing home on a sacrifice fly off the left fielder Jack Mitchell.

Lakins rebounded with a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the second and third frames and stranded a Wildcat at second in the fourth and sixth innings. The 1-0 score held until Ohio State stepped to the plate for their third crack at Mason.

Sophomore second baseman Nick Sergakis singled to left field in opening the home-half of the sixth. At first base, Sergakis saw a fly ball off the bat of freshman center fielder Ronnie Dawson soar above his head and over the right field fence for a two-run home, putting the Buckeyes in front 2-1 on Dawson's third home run of the year.

Before the 798 in attendance could enjoy the Buckeye lead, Northwestern was back on the attack.

A pair of singles sandwiched Lakins' seventh and final strikeout in the top of the seventh inning. With Wildcat catcher Jake Straub on first, following Lakins' punchout of Cody Stevens, coach Greg Beals called on sophomore right-hander Jake Post to maintain the Ohio State lead.

Pinch-hitting, Reid Hunter greeted Post with a single up the middle. Post struck out Dauch for the second out of the inning before walking center fielder Matt Hopfner of four pitches. With the bases loaded and Ohio State clinging to its 2-1 lead, junior second baseman Scott Heelan pulled a double down the right field line, clearing the bases and putting Northwestern back in front 4-2.

Ohio State placed a runner on base in the seventh and eighth innings, a one-out walk drawn by sophomore DH Ryan Leffel in the seventh, a second leadoff single for Sergais in the eighth, but nothing came of either situation. Sophomore outfielder Jacob Brobst was called on to pinch run for Leffel and was the out on a fielder's choice in the next at-bat. Sergakis too was retired one batter later as Dawson grounded into a 3-6-3 double play.

Northwestern placed two more runs on the board in the ninth as Heelan's big game continued. Ohio State closer Trace Dempsey was called on to pitch the ninth. Dempsey struck out two of the first three batters faced, plunking the middle batter. Heelan recorded his third extra-base hit, lining a run-scoring triple to the right-center gap. Heelan scored one batter later on a Mitchell single up the middle, allowing Northwestern to score six runs for a second consecutive contest.

Ohio State quickly went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, falling for the fourth time in five Big Ten games. Mustering only eight runs in their last six conference games, the Buckeyes were held to four hits. Ohio State saw the Northwestern find the clutch hit they could not, racking up five two-out runs.

Sergakis' two-hit game was his 11th of the season. Receiving a no-decision, Lakins pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs, both earned, on four hits, walking two and striking out seven. Post fell to 3-3 on the year, allowing two runs in 1.2 innings, struck for three hits, striking out two and walking two.

For Northwestern, Mason improved to 2-4 on the year. The southpaw scattered three hits, the only runs on his accord Dawson's two-run home run, matching Lakins with seven strikeouts and two walks. Freshman right-hander Joe Hoscheit picked up his second save of the year with two innings of one-hit scoreless baseball.

Ohio State enters the season finale with a spot in the eight-team Big Ten Tournament clinched, but reeling. Ohio State can finish between sixth and eighth place in the conference, pending results in State College between Michigan State and Penn State and in West Lafayette between Iowa and Purdue.

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