Ohio State's senior captains took matters into their own hands in making sure their final game on Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium was a victory.
Right-hander Greg Greve pitched eight innings of two-run baseball, scattering seven Northwestern hits, walking one with four strikeouts, and fellow senior Tim Wetzel lifted a two-run home run to right as part of a 2-for-3 day as the pair powered Ohio State to a 5-2 win.
"Greg Greve with a big time start," Ohio State coach Greg Beals said. "Seven-shutout innings, before giving up a hit in the eighth for the two runs."
With Greve moving to 7-4 on the year, Ohio State closes the regular season 30-26 overall, 10-14 in Big Ten play. Wetzel's first home run of the year helped drop Northwestern to 19-33, 7-16 in conference action.
The Buckeyes struck first, getting to the Wildcats' Nick Friar in the bottom of the first. A leadoff walk by Nick Sergakis and a bunt single by Ronnie Dawson put two on with no outs for Troy Kuhn. Ohio State's third baseman, who leads the team in RBIs, delivered a single to left to put the team up 1-0. It was a lead the Buckeyes would not relinquish.
Kuhn was involved in the third inning as well, leading off with a single and coming around to score when a Troy Montgomery bunt was fielded by Northwestern catcher Jake Straub, who's throw sailed into right field.
With the early 2-0 lead, Ohio State saw Greve hold the Wildcats in check.
Wetzel erased a potential leadoff double in the top of the first with a spectacular catch down the left field line, after which the right-hander only surrendered a one-out single in the first and a leadoff base knock in the second. The next three frames saw Greve record 1-2-3 innings before the Buckeyes seized control of the game.
Wetzel gave the Buckeyes a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth with his fifth career home run. After Craig Nennig reached on an error, the left fielder dropped the head of the bat on a changeup down and in, knocking it over the fence in right.
For good measure, Wetzel also made the play of the day in the field. With two outs and a runners on first and second, the senior prevented at least two runs from scoring, taking away at least extra bases from Jack Mitchell with a leaping grab at the left field wall.
"He hits the home run and that's what people are going to remember, but he affected the scoreboard greater on defense today," Beals said. "The would-be leadoff double, which is hard to keep a run from scoring, then the ball off the wall he caught, he probably saved at least three or for runs on defense today. Then with the two-run home run, Timmy Wetzel may affected the scoreboard by five or so runs today."
Ohio State pushed the lead one run farther in the seventh thanks to an inside-the-park home run from Dawson, whose line drive to right-center deflected off the glove of Josh Perlmutter. The freshman raced around the bases for his fourth homer of the season and a 5-0 lead.
After scoring just five runs combined in the series first two games, that production was all Greve would need. The righty retired fourteen in a row at one point, mixing up his pitches and locating effectively. The only blemish on the day came in the top of the eighth, when back-to-back singles by Matt Hopfner and Scott Heelan preceded a double to left-center by Mitchell which scored them both.
Trace Dempsey came on to close things out in the ninth, working around a single and striking out two to pick up his eighth save of the season.
In addition to Wetzel's two-hit game, Ohio State saw Kuhn go 2-for-4 in his 18th multi-hit game. Dawson's inside-the-park home run, his second round-tripper in as many games, capped a 3-for-4 day.
The Buckeyes now turn their attention to the Big Ten tournament, which begins on Wednesday in Omaha.