One nightmare inning proved to be Ohio State's undoing against UNLV on Sunday in Las Vegas. The Rebels used a seven-run sixth inning to take an 8-7 win and a two games to one lead in the four-game series against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has struggled with defensive ball security thus far in 2016, and today was no different. Five errors and four unearned runs proved to be the undoing of the scarlet and gray on this day.
The loss overshadowed an impressive display of power by the Buckeyes' Ronnie Dawson, who blasted two home runs in the game, including a grand slam, and drove in five runs. Dawson went 3-for-5 and now has four homers and 13 runs batted in on the season.
For the first time in the series, UNLV scored first. Kyle Isbel led off the bottom of the first with a single and found himself on third with two outs. A grounder off the bat of Cory Pool ate up shortstop Nick Sergakis, bringing Isbel home for an early 1-0 lead against Ohio State lefty John Havird.
It was all Havird would allow for the next four innings.
Meanwhile, Rebel starter Kenny Oakley cruised through the first four innings with very little disturbance. After the UNLV bullpen was taxed in Saturday's offensive explosion, it needed Oakley to chew up some innings. The righty struck out nine while allowing four runs in his six innings of work.
In the top of the fourth, though, the Buckeyes finally broke through. L. Grant Davis collected an infield hit, his second single of the day, and Troy Montgomery drew a walk. After Brady Cherry collected an infield hit of his own, Dawson stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. After working the count full, Dawson took a slider low and in out over the wall in right field for a grand slam and a 4-1 lead.
The Rebels got two off of Havird in the bottom of the sixth to pull to within one run and things snowballed from there. Payton Squier led off with a two-strike single and was followed by a ground rule double from Pool. With two runners in scoring position, Justin Jones ripped a single into left-center to score two runs and end Havird's day. The lefty went 5+ innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts in a no-decision.
Austin Woodby relieved and the defensive shakiness that has plagued Ohio State in the early season reared its head again. Woodby walked his first batter, then threw the ball away on a bunt attempt to allow Jones around to tie the game. Another bunt on the next play resulted in an error for Cherry at third and brought Cody Howard to the plate with runners on the corners. Howard singled back up the middle to bring home the go-ahead run and end Woodby's brief appearance.
Michael Horejsei came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out and gave up an RBI single to Austin Anderson and an RBI ground out to Squier to make it a 7-4 lead for the home team. After a wild pitch, it was suddenly 8-4.
The Buckeyes got right back in it in the top of the seventh thanks to a pair of longballs. With one out, Cherry hit his third home run of the season, and Dawson followed with his second of the game. The junior left fielder obliterated another 3-2 pitch for his fourth homer of the year to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Down to its final three outs, Ohio State made things interesting, but just couldn't get it done. Dawson doubled down the right field line with one out and scored when Sergakis followed him with a double of his own. Jalen Washington moved Sergakis to third with a sacrifice fly, but UNLV closer Ben Wright got Tre Gantt to bounce back to the mound to end the game.
The Buckeyes will look for a series split on Tuesday, when the two squads hook up at 9:05 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live here.