With a Big Ten championship on the line, Ohio State sent out a reigning first-team all-conference pitcher and felt confident in their chance to win one final regular season contest.
It was not meant to be for the Buckeyes as Indiana carried the hot bats that collected seven runs in the final two innings of Saturday's 7-2 win to score six in the first three frames on its way to an 8-1 victory, claiming the program's first outright Big Ten title since 1932.
"I thought we had a good mentality and attitude pregame but we just did not play championship baseball today," Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. "We did not pitch well enough, hit well enough or handle certain situations well enough. With that said, we still have a great opportunity and we need to redirect our energy toward next week in Minneapolis."
Junior right-handed pitcher Jaron Long opened the contest with a strikeout as a crowd of 1966 was settling into its seats hoping to see a victory. A caught stealing following a walk had two down for Indiana. But back-to-back singles followed by a Michael Basil double to left-center put the Buckeyes in an early 2-0 hole heading to their first at-bat.
It appeared as if Ohio State would even the score as Kirby Pellant drilled a double to right-center, plating fellow senior Joe Ciamacco who drew a leadoff walk. But Pellant was caught stealing and ensuing Buckeye hitters flied and lined out to close the only run-scoring inning of the game.
But the Hoosiers were not done.
Indiana struck again with two-out lightning in the second sparked by center fielder Justin Cureton reaching second on a stolen base following a one-out fielder's choice. A Will Nolden single in front of a Kyle Schwarber RBI-single stretch the Buckeye deficit back to two runs. One batter later, Sam Travis doubled down the line to plate the second and third runs of the innings.
With Ohio State managing just five runs in the prior 20 innings, the five IU runs in the first two innings were an insurmountable climb.
Long allowed a run in the third before putting up four consecutive zeros on the scoreboard. Indiana would tack on a run in the eighth off long, capping the scoring in the ninth with a Schwarber opposite-field home run, his Big Ten-leading 14th of the season.
After the first inning Ohio State's next inning with two baserunners would not occur until the sixth. With Pellant on second and senior first baseman Brad Hallberg on first, freshman third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic's grounder to Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth was relayed across the diamond just in time to beat the Bosiokovic and end the inning.
A plunking of junior left fielder Tim Wetzel in the eighth and a ninth-inning walk to Hallberg represent the lone Ohio State baserunners over the final three innings as the Buckeyes were unable to strike against Indiana sophomore left-handed pitcher Kyle Hart.
Pellant was the lone Buckeye to record a multi-hit game as he finishes the regular season as Ohio State's leading batter with a .314 average. Long fell to 6-5 on the season in allowing seven runs, all earned, off 10 hits in eight innings, issuing three walks with six strikeouts.
In his return to Ohio, Cincinnati native Hart improved to 8-2 on the season, holding Ohio State to one run off four hits in 8.1 innings. Twinsburg, Ohio native Scott Effross closed the contest for the Hoosiers. Basil and Schwarber, also from Cincinnati, combined to go 4-for-8 with three runs and four RBI.
Ohio State finishes the regular season at 34-21, in a tie for second in the Big Ten at 15-9.
Because of their April 12-14 series victory over Nebraska, the Buckeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament as the conference's No. 2 seed, earning the tiebreaker over the Cornhuskers. You can see their complete road to a possible 2013 Big Ten Tournament title here.