Ohio State baseball got off on the wrong foot in Big Ten play on Friday evening at Bill Davis Stadium, falling 3-2 to Michigan State. The Buckeyes had a four-game winning streak snapped, and sit at 12-6 overall on the season.
In the series opener, a pair of All-Big Ten pitchers from a season ago took the mound and didn't disappoint. Ohio State sophomore Tanner Tully and Michigan State senior Mick VanVossen kept the bats quiet throughout most of the game, with neither side mustering much of anything through the first five innings. Only five of the first 35 batters to make a plate appearance reached base.
Tully was cruising into the sixth when a two-out triple by shortstop Ryan Richardson had the Spartans knocking on the door, but a popout to second base on the very next pitch by first baseman Blaise Salter ended the threat.
The Buckeyes took advantage of that narrow escape in the home half of the inning. A one-out triple to center by DH Connor Sabanosh put VanVossen in a precarious situation for the first time all game. After right fielder Pat Porter worked a walk, third baseman Troy Kuhn laced a double down the left field line for a 1-0 lead. Left fielder Ronnie Dawson followed with an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Porter and push the lead to two.
A walk by second baseman Nick Sergakis ended VanVossen's day and brought sophomore Joe Mockbee out of the Michigan State bullpen for a bases loaded situation. The southpaw struck out catcher Aaron Gretz and got shortstop Craig Nennig to line out to right to get out of the jam.
The Ohio State lead was short-lived, though, as the Spartans used some two-out good luck to take the lead in the seventh. An error by Nennig on a grounder by right fielder Brandon Hughes that could have been the third out and a walk of DH Zack McGuire by Tully put runners at first and second. A bloop double down the left field line by center fielder Anthony Cheky brought Hughes around to score, and when the ball was misplayed by Dawson, pinch runner Chase Toth came stumbling homeward.
After a walk to pinch hitter Ryan Krill, left fielder Cam Gibson then followed by beating out the throw from first baseman Ryan Leffel to Tully on a groundball to the right side, allowing Cheky to score the go-ahead run. Tully's day was over at that point, as junior Jake Post relieved. Post loaded the bases before a fine running play by Porter in the right field alley to retire Salter finally got Ohio State out of the inning trailing 3-2.
Michigan State kept the pressure on in the eighth against Post when third baseman Mark Weist led the inning off with a triple to the gap in right-center. But the Buckeye righty pitched around the trouble, striking out the next two batters and inducing a groundout back to the mound by Toth.
Mockbee was terrific in relief for the Spartans, picking up his second win of the season after throwing 3.2 perfect innings to stifle the Buckeye bats. Tully took the loss, falling to 1-1 on the year.
Game two of the series is set for first pitch at 3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday in Columbus.