If one number can define Ohio State's season to date, most certainly their Wednesday game against Akron, it would be four.
After Wednesday's 9-4 win over Akron, Ohio State improved to 16-6 on the season, ending an 11-game homestand with a 9-2 showing. The Buckeyes' 16th win was it's fourth consecutive victory, marking the fourth time this season the Buckeyes reached a winning streak of four games.
Every Ohio State win coming in a four-game run, extra-base hits powered the Buckeyes to its latest collection of four wins.
"It was great for our offense to get several extra-base hits and stolen bases tonight," head coach Greg Beals said. "We need to continue this momentum this weekend at Rutgers."
The ability to rack up extra-base hits was a needed remedy on an evening where Buckeye starter John Havird suffered a shaky start. The junior left-hander worked around three singles in the top of the first, getting an inning-ending double play to strand a runner, but wouldn't be able to stymie an Akron threat in their next at-bat.
Havird surrendered a leadoff single to Akron first baseman junior Gerald Rohan before striking out junior third baseman Dom Iero. Back-to-back singles allowed Rohan to score, giving a Mid-American Conference opponent the game's first run on back-to-back days against Ohio State. The Akron lead doubled later in the inning when junior outfielder Dalton Mosbarger picked up a run-scoring double with two outs, giving Akron the 2-0 lead after two at-bats.
Behind a pair of two-baggers, Ohio State wasted little time in leveling the score.
After a leadoff walk was drawn by sophomore left fielder Ronnie Dawson, junior second baseman Nick Sergakis drove in Ohio State's first run of the game with an RBI-double to the left-center gap. Two batters and two outs later, junior first baseman Zach Ratcliff switched places with Sergakis, the two Columbus Academy products teamming up to knot the score at 2-2 as Ratcliff also pulled a double into left field.
Settling into form, Havird conceded singles in the third and fourth innings, nothing else, before pitching a 1-2-3 fifth. As the game crossed its mid-way point, the Buckeye bats erupted.
Continuing a strong season where he average rests at .366 at game's end, junior shortstop Craig Nennig lead off the home-half of the fifth inning with a single up the middle. Drawing a walk after working the count full, Ratcliff put two Bucks aboard. Sophomore center fielder Troy Montgomery loaded the bases with a bunt single. Ohio State moved in front 3-2 with a sacrifice fly from senior DH Connor Sabanosh, plating Nennig.
In the blink of an eye Ohio State took a commanding lead.
Senior right fielder Pat Porter found Nick Swisher Field's generous left field power alley, picking up a two-run double to score Ratcliff and Montgomery. On the next pitch Porter found himself back in the Buckeye dugout as Troy Kuhn laced a first-pitch single up the middle to score Porter. The five-hit, six-run inning received an exclamation point when Dawson drilled a home run to right field, scoring he and Kuhn, upping the Buckeye lead to 8-2.
The visiting Zips tried to mount one last rally in the sixth.
A single off the bat of sophomore catcher Brian Lees was sandwiched by Havird hitting two batters. The bases loaded, Akron junior second baseman Billy Salem grounded out to Ratcliff to Iero. Picking up his fourth strikeout of the game, Havird sat down Mosbarger of three pitches, ending his outing after 5.2 innings. Freshman right-handed relieved Seth Kinker closed the Akron sixth by striking out UA senior shortstop Matt Rembielak.
Akron closed its scoring with a run in the seventh. Senior right fielder Joey Havrilak lead off the inning before scoring two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Rohan. The game's scoring concluded when Porter lead off the Ohio State seventh with a home run to right field, giving Ohio State a 9-4 lead. Ohio State junior left-hander Michael Horejsei and freshman right-hander Adam Niemeyer made the score stand, each pitching an inning of scoreless relief.
In the victory, Ohio State dialed up four doubles, one each from Porter and Sergakis with Ratcliff picking up two. The three Buckeyes all ended the game with four doubles on the year. The home runs for Dawson and Porter were the fourth on the year for each as Ohio State moved to 15-1 when scoring at least four runs. Kuhn, Montgomery, Porter and Ratcliff all picked up two hits to pace Ohio State's 11-hit attack, Porter drove in three runs with he and Dawson scoring a game-high two runs.
Scattering 10 hits, Havird moved to 3-0 on the year, limiting the Zips to three runs. The JUCO transfer from Mesa Community College struck out four against one walk.
"It wasn't an easy day to pitch with the wind blowing the way it was and Havird did a good job of getting us five innings before Kinker came in and really did a nice job out of the bullpen tonight," Beals said.
Akron outhit Ohio State on the night, but it wasn't enough for Akron starter Josh Lapiana. Falling to 0-2, the freshman left-handered conceded eight runs off seven hits, walked three Buckeyes and struck out four in five innings. UA right-handed relievers Evan Jensen and Matt LaRocca pitched a scoreless inning, Mosbarger gave up the Porter home run in the seventh.
"We had our share of hits, but left six runners in scoring position," head coach Rick Rembielak said. "That was the discrepancy between the score. Ohio State hit those guys in."
Ohio State will look to run its winning streak to five games for the first time this season, returning to conference action with a weekend series at Rutgers. The Buckeyes will take on the Big Ten newcomers Friday through Sunday, looking to build off of a 2-1 Big Ten opening weekend against Michigan State. The win against Akron concludes an 11-game homestand, but the Buckeyes will start a 10-game stay at home when they return from Rutgers with a March 31 date against Ohio.