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Ohio State baseball beats Michigan State, forces rubber match on Sunday

One swing of the bat was all the difference for the Buckeyes as they beat the Spartans, 6-2.

Ohio State Athletics
Ohio State Athletics

Less than 24 hours after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Michigan State, the Ohio State baseball team looked to rebound to their winning ways. Previously winners of five games in a row, the Buckeyes lost Friday night’s game in unique circumstances, 7-6. Although the series is being held in Columbus, the Spartans are designated the home team, after unplayable field conditions forced the change of location. A back-and-forth contest, the Buckeyes tied the game in the top of the ninth, only to watch their opponents win in walk-off fashion.

Looking to win the season series for the third year in a row, the Spartans sent right-handed pitcher Justin Alleman to the mound. The former draft pick of the Kansas City Royals had two wins in five starts entering Saturday’s contest, but had not been credited with a loss thus far. His 2.10 ERA was good for second on the team.

Opposite of Alleman, the Buckeyes sent right-hander Greg Greve to the mound. The senior entered the contest with a 2-1 record, his lone loss coming on the road against ninth-ranked Oregon. When these teams met one year ago, Greve tossed one scoreless inning of relief in an 8-3 win over the Spartans.

The Buckeyes spent most of Friday night playing from behind, but Saturday’s rematch played out differently. Through three innings, both teams were held scoreless, with little more than a couple base knocks from the Buckeyes. However, in the bottom of the frame, Greve ran into some trouble. After throwing consecutive perfect innings, the Cleveland native loaded the bases after sandwiching a walk in between two singles. The Buckeyes were able to escape without damage, as Greve induced a fly out to end the inning.

It wasn’t until the top of the fourth inning that the Buckeyes were able to string consecutive hits together off of Alleman. Three straight singles from Pat Porter, Jacob Bosiokovic, and Ronnie Dawson loaded the bases with nobody out for power-hitting Josh Dezse. Surprisingly, though, the former Big Ten Freshman of the Year drew a walk to score Porter, giving the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish.

In the biggest spot of his young career, freshman Troy Montgomery stepped to the plate with the bases juiced. Montgomery took advantage of a mistake pitch from Alleman, a fastball high and over the plate, crushing it over the right field fence for his first-career homerun and grand slam, extending Ohio State’s lead to five.

It didn’t take long for the Spartans to answer right back, as a two-run homerun from last night’s hero cut the lead to three. With a runner on second, first baseman Ryan Krill hit his first homerun of the season, taking Greve deep to right field. Two loud outs later, however, the Buckeyes were out of the inning.

Despite the home run, Greve became the second consecutive Ohio State starting pitcher to last at least six innings. Like Ryan Riga the night before, Greve recorded the longest outing of his career before giving way to Jake Post in the seventh inning. Post would toss three scoreless frames, limiting the Spartans to only two hits on the way to his first-career save.

Outside of the fourth inning, scoring was limited in Saturday’s game. Ohio State would tack on one final in run in the seventh inning, as a routine ground ball traveled through Krill’s glove, scoring a runner from second.

With the 6-2 win, the Buckeyes improved to 14-7 on the season. The series comes to a conclusion on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1:05 pm. Ohio State will send freshman Tanner Tully (2-0, 1.29 ERA) to the mound, while the Spartans have not yet determined who will be called upon in the rubber match.