Ohio State baseball broke out of its doldrums in a big way on Saturday against UNLV. The Buckeyes exploded for a 20-3 win over the Rebels to snap a three-game losing streak.
The 20 runs were a season-high for Ohio State, as were the 21 hits and 10 extra-base hits. In the past five games, the Buckeyes were 1-4 and scored only 13 runs total. With the win, the squad improved to 7-5-1 in 2016.
Starter Adam Niemeyer got his first win of the season, and looked good doing it. The redshirt sophomore righty tossed six innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Seven different players had two or more hits, and five had at least two runs batted in. Troy Mongtomery was 4-for-6 with an RBI and four runs scored, Tre Gantt was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored, Jalen Washington was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored, and Brady Cherry went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs to lead the charge.
Ohio State was the first on the board once again on Saturday, scoring two runs in the top of the first off UNLV starter Dean Kremer. Montgomery led off with a single back up the middle and came home when Cherry tripled to right-center. Cherry then scored himself thanks to a throwing error on the play by Rebels' second baseman Justin Jones.
UNLV responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the second against Niemeyer. A.J. VanMeetren singled back up the box to lead off and moved to second on a sharply-hit ball by Jones that glanced off Niemeyer's shin. Two batters later, Nick Ames delivered a two-out single up the middle to score VanMeetren.
Kremer continued to have issues in the third and didn't survive. Cherry, Ronnie Dawson, and Nick Sergakis all reached with singles to load the bases with nobody out. Washington and Tre Gantt followed with back to back doubles, pushing the lead out to 5-1. Troy Kuhn then singled home another to make it 6-1 and prompt the Rebels to go to the bullpen.
Righty Cody Roper relieved Kremer, who lasted just 2+ innings and allowed seven runs on nine hits, and had a tough time himself. A sacrifice fly by L. Grant Davis was the last damage done by Ohio State, making it a 7-1 game, but a pair of walks to Montgomery and Cherry loaded the bases once again. A swinging strikeout by Dawson finally ended the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, UNLV got one back with a lot of help from Niemeyer. Kyle Isbel doubled to left-center, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. A second wild pitch allowed him to trot home.
Gantt ended Roper's day in the top of the fourth with his second RBI double of the day. Sergakis was hit by a pitch after a good at-bat that saw the co-captain foul off four pitches with two strikes, and Washington followed with a walk. Gantt then found the gap in right-center to make it an 8-2 game and send Roper to the showers.
Right-hander Christian Myers came into the game and abruptly bounced a breaking ball in the dirt that skipped away from catcher Andrew Yazdanbakhsh, allowing Washington to score. A sacrifice fly by Kuhn then brought Gantt plateward for a 10-2 lead. The runs were charged to Roper, who gave up three runs on one hit in 1+ innings.
But the Buckeyes weren't done there, as Myers walked Daulton Mosbarger and hit Davis. A Montgomery double brought around Mosbarger and put two runners in scoring position with one out. Cherry then lifted a fly ball into center that scored Davis, and an error on the throw to third allowed Montgomery to cross the plate. By the time Myers got out of the inning, it was 13-2.
Myers was replaced after his one inning by lefty Tevita Gerber, and once again Washington got things going for Ohio State. The junior co-captain hit the first pitch of the inning into left field for a double, and scored two batters later on a groundout by Jake Brobst. It was the third run scored by Washington in the game, and made it a 14-2 game.
Montgomery got his third and run scored of the game in the sixth, extending the lead to 15-2. The junior center fielder doubled for the second time and scored two batters later when a ground ball by Dawson got through UNLV shortstop Nick Rodriguez.
In the seventh, Gantt, Kuhn, and Cherry continued the assault as the Buckeyes scored four more times. Gantt led off with a single and moved to third on a Kuhn double. After an RBI bloop single by Brobst, a walk by pinch hitter Ryan Leffel, and a run-scoring wild pitch, Gerber finally got Montgomery out, but Cherry followed with an RBI single.
Montgomery singled in the ninth to cap off his great day at the plate and Dawson doubled to move him to third. A Sergakis ground out brought him home for Ohio State's 20th run of the game
The Rebels got a late run off of Buckeye reliever Connor Curlis in the eighth inning, but it was far too little, too late.
Game three of the series will played at 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday. Lefty John Havird will get the start for Ohio State against UNLV's Kenny Oakley. The game can again be streamed live here.