After a dramatic walk-off win in its first game on Saturday at the Historic Dodgertown Classic, Ohio State baseball obviously didn't feel that they had delivered enough drama. The Buckeyes needed extra innings against Pittsburgh to pull out an 11-8 win, improving to 3-0 on the young season.
Junior center fielder Troy Montgomery, who came into the season boasting preseason All-American accolades, struggled through the first two and a half games of the season for Ohio State. But the Indiana native came through when the Buckeyes needed him in a marathon Saturday night game that lasted 13 innings.
Montgomery went 3-for-6 on the night, hitting a home run while both scoring and driving in three runs, including a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 13th.
Ohio State once again had some defensive issues, committing three more errors to continue a disturbing trend. But Buckeye pitching struck out 20 Panther batters and gave up just three runs in 7.1 innings of relief to hold on for the win.
Pitt got to work immediately on Ohio State starter John Havird, as leadoff man Jacob Wright tripled to right-center field and came home on a groundout by shortstop Charles LeBlanc.
The Panthers' starter, Aaron Sandefur, cruised through the first three innings, setting down all nine batters he faced. The Buckeyes got to him in the fourth, though, tying the game at 1-1 on a double down the right field line by third baseman Nick Sergakis that scored right fielder Jacob Bosiokovic.
Sandefur went five innings, allowing just one run on one hit, striking out five in a no-decision.
Havird settled down after the early run, retiring 10 of his next 11 batters, but Pitt got to him again in the bottom of the fourth. After singles by designated hitter by Alex Kowalczyk and first baseman Caleb Parry, Ohio State got a pair of groundouts, but an infield single by second baseman Matt Johnson brought a run home for a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers went to their bullpen and surrendered the lead. After a single by Bosiokovic, a walk by left fielder Ronnie Dawson, and a hit by pitch for catcher Jalen Washington, senior Ryan Leffel, pinch hitting for DH Daulton Mosbarger, drew a bases loaded walk from lefty Josh Mitchell to tie the game.
Mitchell then uncorked a wild pitch, which scored Dawson, and gave up an RBI infield single to shortstop Craig Nennig, as the Buckeyes took a 4-2 lead.
Pitt came right back, though, chasing Havird from the game after 5.2 innings of work. He issued a walk to third baseman Ron Sherman, then threw a wild pitch of his own, putting a runner in scoring position. A single by Johnson, coupled with an error by Sergakis, allowed Sherman to score. After a walk to catcher Manny Pazos, head coach Greg Beals went to the bullpen.
Havird finished with six strikeouts and two walks, giving up five runs xxx
Lefty reliever Joe Stoll gave up a sharp single to Wright that glanced off Ratcliff at first, which scored Johnson to tie the game. Kowalczyk followed with a two-run single for a 6-4 Panther lead. For the second game in a row, a big inning put the scarlet and gray behind.
Pitt reliever Isaac Mattson opened the seventh inning by serving up a longball to Ohio State leadoff man Troy Montgomery. It marked the 35th straight game dating back to last season that Montgomery has reached base safely, and the lead was cut to 6-5.
The magic from earlier in the day made another appearance for the Buckeyes in the top of the ninth. Still trailing 6-5, second baseman L. Grant Davis led off with a double down the left field line. Montgomery followed that with an RBI single, moving to second on the throw home, and then to third on a groundout by Bosiokovic.
That's when Dawson, who had one hit in his first 12 at-bats, stepped up and delivered a bloop single to left field that plated Montgomery and gave Ohio State a 7-6 lead. Dawson moved to second on a throw home on the play, then abruptly stole third base. He scored when Sergakis sent a fly ball to left, pushing the lead to 8-6.
But lefty reliever Michael Horejsei couldn't hold the lead. He walked Parry, gave up a single to center fielder Aaron Schnurbusch, and then yielded a two-run triple to Sherman. The Panthers tied the game and had the winning run just 90 feet away.
The play of the game to that point, in a game that had plenty, came when Horejsei induced a slow ground ball over the mound off the bat of Johnson and Nennig threw Sherman out at the plate. The senior from Cleveland then got a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out to end the threat and send the game to extra innings.
Horejsei, Yianni Pavlopoulos, and Connor Curlis combined to keep Pitt off the board in 10th, 11th, and 12th innings, but the Buckeyes were held in check by Mattson. The sophomore from Pennsylvania threw 6.1 innings out of the bullpen, allowing four runs, but keeping a clean sheet in his final three innings.
The Panthers had to pull Mattson to start the 13th inning, and reliever Jexton Pugh couldn't keep the scoreless streak going. Nennig led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then to third on a single by Davis. Montgomery stepped up and singled under the glove of Johnson at second base to bring the go-ahead run home.
An RBI single by Bosiokovic and a run-scoring double play off the bat of Dawson gave Ohio State an 11-8 lead. Curlis was able to close things out in the bottom of the 13th for his first collegiate victory, striking out four in his two innings of work.
If they can drag themselves out of bed after nearly nine hours on the field on Saturday, the Buckeyes will finish out the weekend at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. Toledo, who the team beat 7-1 on Friday, will be the opponent.