Following a home sweep at the hands of reigning conference champion Indiana, Greg Beals said when you face adversity, your character becomes defined.
After a trip to Lincoln, Neb., Ohio State's character as a club has to be rock-solid.
The Buckeyes suffered a second consecutive weekend sweep, three losses to the Huskers where the host rallied in its last at-bat each game, claiming the final two in walk-off form. Ohio State's six-game Big Ten skid drops them to 2-7 in conference action, 18-13 overall, Nebraska improved to 4-2 in Big Ten play, 19-13 overall.
The series finale followed the script of the first two contests.
Ohio State received a sensational starting performance, sophomore right-hander Jake Post pitching the complete game after starters Greg Greve and Tanner Tully respectively pitched six scoreless and 7.1 innings one-run baseball. As Post cruised, he did so with Ohio State taking the initial lead, only to find its offense fall stagnant.
In the top of the first, leadoff batter Troy Kuhn reached on a fielding error by Nebraska junior third baseman Blake Headley. Singles from sophomore third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic and freshman center fielder Ronnie Dawson loaded the bases with nobody out. Junior first baseman Josh Dezse grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, but collected an RBI with Kuhn crossing home. The Buckeyes would only gather one run from it's three on, nobody out start, sophomore Designated Hitter Zach Ratcliff flied out to right to end the inning.
The back-to-back singles by Bosiokovic and Dawson would stand as the only time in the contest Ohio State collected more than one hit in an inning.
Picking up where teammates Christian DeLeon and Chance Sinclair left off, Nebraska starter Aaron Bummer began a blitzkrieg through the Buckeye lineup from the second inning on, he too was on his way to a complete game, the third of the series for Nebraska.
Bummer record 1-2-3 innings in five of the next six innings following the first, only Dawson leading off the fourth with a walk and a Ratcliff single, the latter erased with a Pat Porter 1-6-3 double play, prevented Bummer from 18 in a row.
While the Buckeye bats scuffled, Post did everything in his power to keep the club in the game.
Working himself into trouble with a pair of two-out walks in the bottom of the first, Post retied Nebraska freshman center fielder Ryan Boldt by way of a fly out to center to end Nebraska's thought of responding in the first inning. The second inning was highlighted by a brilliant play from the sophomore second baseman Kuhn. On second following a bunt single and throwing error by Bosiokovic, Kuhn prevented Headley from scoring on a one-out shot up the middle off the bat of junior catcher Tanner Lubach. Ranging to his right and using his full extended arm to pick the ball of the turf, Kuhn prevent the ball from reaching center field, hold Headley at third. A pop up to shortstop Nick Sergakis ended the inning with Headley stranded at third.
Where Kuhn was spectacular in the second, an error on his accord allowed the first Nebraska run to score in the fourth.
A leadoff single from Kuhn's counterpart, junior Pat Kelly, found the glove of Kuhn, but Kuhn was too far behind second base to throw in time to record the out at first. Two outs were recorded before a dribbler off the bat of freshman DH Ben Miller found a charging Kuhn. The Zionsville, Ind. native was unable to cleanly pick the ball off the infield grass, allowing Miller to reach and extend the inning with Kelly at third. The next batter to step to the plate was Lubach, the Husker backstop stroking a single back up the middle to tie the game.
Tied 1-1 after four, it was a matter of who would relent first as Bummer and Post dueled. The two matched zeros, neither team scoring over the next four innings, with 1-2-3 innings recorded by both between the fifth and eighth innings. An Austin Darby single to lead off the fifth was wiped away when Darby did not retreat back to first in time when freshman Jake Placzek flied out to Porter in right, doubled-up with a 9-3 putout. A 5-4-3 double play ended Ohio State's at-bat in the eighth, a Sergakis single, ending a stretch of 11 consecutive Buckeyes retired by Bummer, followed by senior left fielder Tim Wetzel rolling over into the twin-killing.
Identical one-run, four-hit efforts through eight, Nebraska went to its bag of magic once more.
After Ohio State left Bosiokovic stranded in the top of the ninth, a one-out single for the third baseman producing a second two-hit game of the weekend, Post went back out to in hopes of send the game to extra innings. Entering the inning at 90 pitches, Post quickly retired Kelly and Boldt with a pair of grounders. One out away, Nebraska found another way to break the heart of the Buckeyes, send the 3,642 in attendance at Hawks Field home in jubilation.
Singled through the right side from Headley and Miller, the latter under the glove of a diving Dezse, placed Nebraska's winning run at second. The first offering to Lubach was sent back up the middle, falling in front of Dawson, scoring Headley, completing the sweep for the Huskers.
Receiving the tough-luck loss, Post pitched 8.2 innings, allowed two runs, one earned off seven hits, walking two with two strikeouts in 108 pitches. Recording Nebraska's third complete game of the series, Bummer allowed five hits over nine inning, the junior lefty conceding only the unearned run in the first, walking one striking out two in a 98-pitch outing.
For the weekend, Nebraska starters pitched all 27 innings, allowing six runs, two earned, off 20 hits. Ohio State drew three walks against the Huskers against 12 strikeouts.
Ohio State's trio of Greve, Tully and Post were equally impressive. The Ohio State starters combined to pitch 22 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, off 15 hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Ohio State returns to Columbus where two mid-week games await the Bucks. On Tuesday Ohio State welcomes Eastern Michigan before Dayton is the opponent on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start. Ohio State resumes Big Ten play with a home series against Penn State, a Nittany Lion club 4-1 in their first weekend of Big Ten play, 15-14 overall after falling to Purdue in their series finale.