Just two days after being swept by Illinois on their home field, the baseball Buckeyes took out their frustrations on Miami University. With 16 hits and 14 free passes, Ohio State beat the Red Hawks by the football score of 20-7, improving to 32-13 on the season.
"It was important for us to bounce back after the weekend, and we did that tonight," head coach Greg Beals said.
The Buckeyes remain on the road on Wednesday, playing a midweek contest at Cincinnati, before heading back to Columbus for the final home series at Bill Davis Stadium this year, hosting Maryland for the first time as Big Ten conference rivals.
Dawson goes HAM
Sophomore Ronnie Dawson had a career night on Tuesday, and it couldn't have been a more encouraging sign for Ohio State. After being named a Freshman All-American a season ago, the Grove City, Ohio native has had his difficulties in 2015. On Tuesday night, Dawson went 4-for-6, scoring five runs and driving in a career-high eight, highlighted by a third inning grand slam. It was his team-leading seventh home run on the year, and pushed his RBI total up to 32.
The performance was a welcome sight for the Buckeyes, who need a confident, productive Dawson if they hope to make any noise in the Big Tournament and beyond.
In addition to Dawson, every starter for Beals reached base at least once, and six different players scored at least two runs. Only senior Pat Porter and junior Nick Sergakis failed to register a hit, while freshman Tre' Gantt and junior Craig Nennig didn't score.
"We put good swings on the bat and were patient at the plate," Beals said. "We got some big hits."
Sophomore leadoff man Troy Montgomery was overshadowed by Dawson in this one, but went 3-for-5 with four runs scored and three RBIs. In the top of the eighth, Montgomery ripped his fourth homer of the season. Gantt and senior catcher Aaron Gretz each added two runs driven in.
Bullpen locked in
Freshman Jacob Niggemeyer made his sixth midweek start of the season, but his first in two weeks, and struggled a little. The former Olentangy Liberty standout gave up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of work, striking out four. Niggemeyer did collect the win, improving to 4-0 in his first collegiate season.
Once Beals made the move to the bullpen, Ohio State got the kind of performance it is getting used to out of its relief corps. Buckeye relievers have allowed just one earned run in the past 11 games, and tossed four spotless innings against the Red Hawks.
"The bullpen was strong again to finish off the ball game," Beals said.
Freshmen Kyle Michalik and Seth Kinker and juniors Michael Horejsei and John Havird scattered four hits, striking out seven and walking one to close things out. The bullpen has become a weapon for Beals, and the Buckeyes' postseason success will hinge in large part on the unit continuing to shut the door on opponents.
Bearcats come in hot
Ohio State plays the second of back-to-back midweek games against in-state schools on Wednesday evening in Cincinnati. The Bearcats are just 15-31 on the year, but come in having taken two of three from nationally-ranked Memphis over the weekend.
Cincinnati is led offensively by the colossus that is Ian Happ, a junior from Pittsburgh who was recently named a mid-season All-American by Perfect Game and is on the watch list for the Golden Spikes award. Happ is hitting .373 for the season, with 13 doubles, 13 homers, and 35 RBIs. His OBP is an astounding 1.191. Beyond Happ, no Bearcat is hitting above .275.
Redshirt freshman Adam Niemeyer will get the privilege of facing the most feared hitter in the American Athletic Conference for the Buckeyes. The right-hander will be making his third start of the season. In ten appearances, Niemeyer is 1-0 with a 1.99 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a .235 opponents batting average.
First pitch from Marge Schott Stadium is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET.