Ohio State baseball suffered its first loss of the season on Friday afternoon, falling 8-1 to Duke at the Caravelle Resort Baseball at the Beach tournament. Blue Devil pitching recorded 14 strikeouts on the day, and sophomore Evan Dougherty hit a trio of home runs in the winning effort.
After a 3-0-1 start to the season last weekend at the Historic Dodgertown Classic, the Buckeyes are facing some beefed up competition in Myrtle Beach. In addition to a tough Blue Devils squad, the team will face Liberty and play two games against nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina this weekend.
Duke's starter, junior Bailey Clark, is a top 50 prospect for June's Major League Baseball draft according to nearly every national publication. The Asheville native lived up to his billing, striking out 10 while allowing just one run on five hits in six innings of work. The win was Clark's first of the season.
For Ohio State, redshirt sophomore Adam Niemeyer was on the bump, and set down the first 11 batters he faced, striking out five in the process. The Minster, Ohio native looked much better after an uneven first start, striking out seven, but took the loss after allowing four runs in 6.2 innings.
The game turned in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth. A one-out single by senior Nick Sergakis and a double down the left field line by junior Jalen Washington gave the Buckeyes two runners in scoring position and its first chance at getting to Clark. But a strikeout by senior Zach Ratcliff and a fly out by sophomore Tre Gantt left the opportunity squandered.
The Blue Devils responded in the top of the fifth, getting to Niemeyer for two runs. A single by freshman Zack Kone was followed by a two-run home run to left-center from Dougherty. It was his first career longball, and put the boys from Durham in control.
Junior Ronnie Dawson ensured that Clark would not get a shutout in the bottom of the sixth inning. The former Licking Heights High School star belted a 1-0 pitch over the wall in dead center field for his first homer of the season.
But in the top of the seventh, Dougherty struck again, sending his second homer of the day over the wall in left. With two outs, sophomore leadoff man Max Miller singled, freshman Jimmy Herron laid down a bunt single, and sophomore Peter Zyla singled through the left side of the infield for a 4-1 Duke lead. Sophomore Seth Kinker relieved Niemeyer and closed out the inning without further damage.
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Michalik came out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth, and Dougherty again inflicted damage. After a two-out single by Kone, the Fort Myers, Florida native pulled another one out of the park to left, his third straight home run of the game. Dougherty finished with a career-high five RBIs.
The Blue Devils put an exclamation point on the win in the top of the ninth as junior Cris Perez took Michalik deep after a Herron single. The 8-1 lead would be more than enough on this day.
The Buckeyes will be back on the diamond tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. ET against tournament host Coastal Carolina. Live audio of the game will be available here.