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Ohio State baseball: Buckeyes swept in crucial series with Indiana

Defending Big Ten champion Indiana storms into Columbus, holds Ohio State to season lows.

Ohio State Athletics

Hoping to exact some revenge, the Ohio State baseball team learned they must improve to be considered among the conference’s elite. A three-game set with Indiana, participants in the 2013 College World Series, hoped to provide a barometer of where this year’s team stands. However, the Buckeyes showed their youth throughout the weekend, falling to the more-experienced Hoosiers in all three meetings.

As they had done the previous weekend against Michigan State, the Buckeyes put themselves behind the eight ball by dropping the first game of the series. Indiana jumped out to an early lead on Ohio State starter Ryan Riga, and never relinquished the lead. The Buckeyes rallied late, tacking on three runs in the ninth, if only to make the score more respectable.

With a wintery mix falling from the skies, the second game of the series was delayed, to be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. This did not bode well for the Buckeyes, who dropped both games of a doubleheader earlier in the season against Indiana State.

Sun shinning, Indiana threatened to break open the first game of the day early. In the top of the first frame, the Hoosiers loaded the bases on Ohio State starter Greg Greve. With one down, however, Greve was able to strike out the next batter, as well as induce a ground out to end the inning unharmed.

Indiana left-hander Kyle Hart had no problems his first time through the Ohio State lineup, but ran into problems as he faced batters for the second time. Singles from designated hitter Ryan Leffel and outfielder Pat Porter applied pressure to Hart, who served up a two-run double to first baseman Josh Dezse, giving the Buckeyes their first lead of the series.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Indiana took charge in the top of the fifth inning. Utility man Casey Rodrigue led off the frame with a triple to center, and catcher Kyle Schwarber tied the game with a two-run shot to right field. Clearly shaken, Greve served up another bad pitch to outfielder Scott Donley, who lined a solo shot to right to give the Hoosiers the lead.

Indiana would add on to their lead in the top of the sixth, when back-to-back singles put runners on the corners. Greve would load the bases again, forcing Ohio State coach Greg Beals to call Jake Post out of the bullpen. The right-hander walked the first batter he faced, taking on another run for the visiting squad. A single brought home two runners, giving the Hoosiers a 6-2 lead, and a third crossed home plate as the batter was caught in a rundown.

With the game well out of reach, Indiana would add an insurance run in the seventh. Back-to-back singles would once again put runners on the corners, only for Post to balk home another run.

Two Indiana pitchers combined to throw eight shutout innings, with Dezse’s two-run double off Hart as the only mark on an otherwise stellar outing. The junior from Cincinnati tossed four solid innings, but was outshined by relief pitcher Will Coursen-Carr. The sophomore delivered five innings out of the bullpen, earning his first win of the season.

Greve, meanwhile, suffered the loss for the home squad, falling to 3-2 on the season.

The series finale was more of the same, as Indiana took the lead in the top of the first inning. Ohio State starter Tanner Tully allowed a two-out single to All-Big Ten selection Sam Travis, who promptly stole second to reach scoring position. Donley, who had two hits in the first game, doubled down the line to give the Hoosiers a one-run advantage.

Tully plunked the leadoff batter in the top of the second before allowing a single to put runners on first and third. A bloop single to right scored the runner from third and an overthrow after a bunt single scored another, stretching the Indiana lead to three. The Hoosiers would tack on one more run before Tully escaped the inning.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Ohio State was able to find a scoring opportunity, when Troy Kuhn led off the inning with a walk. A double by freshman Ronnie Dawson put runners on second and third for Dezse, whose groundout scored Kuhn from third. Indiana starter Christian Morris was able to avoid anymore damage, striking out the next two batters he faced.

The Buckeyes were unable to come any closer to their opponents, though, who tallied 21 runs on 42 hits during the series. Indiana would extend the lead in the seventh inning, when a sacrifice fly from Donley plated another run. With the lead at four, All-American shortstop Dustin DeMuth put his mark on the series with an inside-the-park home run, scoring two, as the ball just missed the outstretched arms of Dawson.

With the game in-hand, closer Scott Effross tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Morris, who picked up his first win of the season after striking out four Buckeyes in 7 2/3 innings pitched.

With Sunday’s defeats, the Buckeyes fell to 16-10 on the season, as well as 2-4 in the Big Ten. To wrap up the current 14-game homestand, Ohio State plays host to the Ohio Bobcats on Tuesday night, followed by a matchup with the Toledo Rockets on Wednesday. The Buckeyes were scheduled to play both programs last season, but inclement weather forced the cancellation of both meetings, with neither rescheduled.