Playing their fourth game in as many days, the Ohio State baseball team played host to in-state foe Miami on Tuesday night. The Buckeyes were hoping to improve their record against opponents from the great state of Ohio to 5-1, but the Redhawks had other plans. Like Ohio State, Miami had struggled recently in midweek contests, but great pitching made all the difference on this beautiful evening at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium.
After pitching one scoreless inning of relief in Monday night's win over Iowa, Travis Lakins made his first career start against the Redhawks. The freshman improved his scoreless streak to three before being pulled from the game in favor of Michael Horejsei, as head coach Greg Beals relies on a committee of pitchers during midweek contests.
Miami would take advantage of the switch, taking the lead in the third frame. A lead off single by John Crummy put a runner on base, but an error by Buckeye centerfielder Troy Montgomery allowed the runner to advance. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner 90 feet away from the plate before a squeeze at the plate gave the visitors the lead.
The Redhawks doubled their lead in the top of the fourth, as the lead off batter reached base for the second consecutive inning. A single and a stolen base put Chad Sedio on second before making his way to third on a sacrifice bunt. A sacrifice fly to right by Scott Slappey would then push the lead to two.
The Buckeyes were unable to muster anything through the first nine batters against Miami starter Charlie Suich, but threatened in the bottom of the fourth. A lead-off single by Nick Sergakis and a double by Troy Kuhn two batters later would put runners on second and third with one out, but Suich would fan Pat Porter and induce a fly out by Josh Dezse to escape the inning without damage.
The Redhawks would add an insurance run in the top of the sixth against Horejsei in his fourth inning on the mound. Allowing consecutive singles to lead off the frame, however, Horejsei was removed by Beals. Ohio State called upon Tyler Giannonatti from the bullpen, promptly allowing a single up the middle to extend the lead to 3-0.
Suich would continue to cruise until the seventh inning, as Porter and Dezse led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Logging a career-high six innings of work, Suich had to be dragged off the mound as the Redhawks called upon Jacob Banks. The senior from Powell sat down five Buckeyes and did not walk a single batter, but would be charged with a run when Troy Montgomery's single up the middle scored Porter from second.
Despite having runners on the corners with no outs, the Buckeyes were unable to tack on anymore runs in the frame. Zach Ratcliff popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt before Craig Nennig flied out to short center field for the second out. A walk to Aaron Gretz loaded the bases, but Sergakis grounded out to end the inning.
Banks would pitch three scoreless frames of his own, as the Buckeyes were unable to get anything going in the latter part of the game. Although he pitched a career-high 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday night, Horejsei was tagged with his second loss of the season, while Suich earn his second win. Banks would pick up his first-career save for the Redhawks, who improved to 23-25, while the Buckeyes would fall to 27-22.
With the hopes of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid long gone, the loss means little in the big picture. However, with a conference tournament bid still likely, this weekend's three-game set at Michigan means everything. Looking for their fifth-consecutive series win, fourth against conference foes, the Buckeyes are currently tied for sixth in the Big Ten. At 8-10 in conference play, Ohio State is tied with Iowa and Michigan State, while Michigan is sitting in fourth place with an 11-10 conference record.