Ohio State baseball pushed its winning streak to a season-high five games on Friday afternoon with a 13-4 victory over Rutgers in Piscataway. The Buckeyes have won four straight at three other times this year, but had failed until today to push past that mark.
"It's big to get a win on the road in the first game of a series, and I thought we swung the bats extremely well," head coach Greg Beals said.
This marked the third straight game in which Ohio State scored at least nine runs, and bodes well as the team pushes into the Big Ten schedule with hopes of an NCAA regional.
The Buckeyes got things going in the top of the third inning thanks to the unlikely leading hitter in the lineup this season. Junior shortstop Craig Nennig, who entered the game hitting .366, led things off with his fourth double of the season and promptly stole third. First baseman Ryan Leffel slapped a single back up the middle to bring Nennig across for the game's first run.
With two outs, senior right fielder Pat Porter hit a shot to the gap in left-center to bring Leffel around on a triple. It was the 14th triple of Porter's career, which set a career record at Ohio State, and the Chagrin Falls, Ohio native's team-leading 19th RBI of the season.
In the fourth, the Buckeyes blew things wide open, scoring seven runs and opening up a 9-0 lead. Sophomore left fielder Ronnie Dawson led the inning off by hitting his third home run in the past four games, taking the team lead with five long flies, which is one more than he hit in all of his Freshman All-American 2014 campaign.
Junior second baseman Nick Sergakis, freshman DH Jordan McDonough, and Nennig all reached base after Dawson's dinger to load the bases. Leffel flied out, plating Sergakis, and sophomore center fielder Troy Montgomery struck out. Ohio State was in danger of failing to capitalize as fully as it could, but the next four batters reached base safely, and the game was blown open.
Senior catcher Connor Sabanosh walked to reload the bases, and was followed by a bases-clearing double to left-center off the bat of Porter to extend the lead to 7-0. After junior third baseman Troy Kuhn was hit by a pitch, Dawson hit a triple of his own, driving in the final two runs of the inning.
The nine runs were much more than Ohio State starter Tanner Tully would need. The sophomore southpaw, who has been settling in nicely the past few weeks after a rough start to the season, tossed a season-high seven innings, allowing just three earned runs on eight hits, with five strikeouts in picking up his second win of the year.
"That's what you need out of your Friday starter, and he gave us a chance to win today," Beals said after the game.
The Buckeyes plated single runs in the sixth and seventh, and added two more in the eighth for the team's highest-scoring game of the season thus far.
Freshman Adam Niemeyer tossed two hitless shutout innings in relief, fanning two and throwing 16 of 18 pitches for strikes.
Dawson ended the day 3-for-4 with three RBIs and just a double short of the cycle, while Porter added four driven in.
Game two of the series will feature sophomore right-hander Travis Lakins trying to propel Ohio State to its sixth straight win. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET at Bainton Field.