Although seventh place is not ideal positioning, the Ohio State baseball team had the chance to overtake the team directly ahead of them in the conference standings over the weekend, with only a single game separating the Buckeyes and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Even better, when the weekend was all said and done, Ohio State moved in to a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes walked away victorious on Saturday afternoon, the series opener, before being thumped on graduation day to fall a game back in the standings. In the rubber match, the scarlet and gray would rely upon Greg Greve to bring home the team's third-consecutive series victory over a conference foe.
A day after receiving his diploma, Greve was stellar, allowing only two earned runs and striking out five over seven innings to earn his sixth win of the season. It wasn't until the fifth frame that the Hawkeyes tallied a pair of runs, a welcome sight after the 17-run offensive outburst the night before. Iowa entered the series leading the Big Ten in hitting, as well as among the conference leaders in just about every other offensive category. On Monday night, Greve was having none of that.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, gained an advantage over their opponents in the third inning, when back-to-back base hits scored two. Troy Kuhn led off the inning with a double against Iowa starter Tyler Peyton, who then plunked Josh Dezse in the back before being removed from he game. Reliever Jared Mandel got Troy Montgomery to pop out on a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Aaron Gretz's base knock up the middle played the first run of the game. Shortstop Craig Nennig added another, scoring Dezse with a double to right center to extend the lead to two.
After the Hawkeyes responded with the aforementioned pair of runs in the fifth, the Buckeyes answered right back. Leading off the inning once again, Kuhn drilled a solo shot just inside the left-field foul pole to put the Buckeyes on top, 3-2.
That would be the difference maker, as Greve would toss two scoreless innings before giving way to Travis Lakins in the eighth. The Hawkeyes would not reach scoring position again, as Lakins and Trace Dempsey would close out the game, with the latter warning his seventh save of the season.
With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 27-21 on the season, but more importantly, 8-10 in the Big Ten. Coupled with Illinois' sweep of Michigan State, the Buckeyes, Hawkeyes, and Spartans all move into a tie for sixth place in the conference standings. The difference between the three spots is a first round matchup with either top-seeded Indiana, Nebraska, or Illinois.
The Buckeyes play host to Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday night at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:35 pm. Stay tuned for a preview of tonight's matchup with the Redhawks.