There's no place like home. The Ohio State baseball team opened up its 20th season at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus this weekend, sweeping Hofstra in a three-game series.
The Buckeyes are now 11-6-1 on the season with Big Ten conference play right around the corner.
"We have a talented team, and it's going to be hard to beat us when we play clean baseball," head coach Greg Beals said.
It took late rallies on Saturday and Sunday to pull off the sweep, with the team showing a lot of grit and mental toughness.
"We never feel like we are out of game ever," senior Troy Kuhn said. "Honestly, we always feel like we are the better team and the better team will find a way to win. We believe in each other."
Left fielder Ronnie Dawson starred all weekend, driving in seven runs and hitting a gawdy .500 (6-for-12). The junior has been hitting his stride the past seven games after a slow start, raising his batting average to .329 and leading the team with 21 RBIs.
The starting pitching was also impressive for Ohio State, as the Pride were limited to just four runs in the three games. Junior Tanner Tully, sophomore Adam Niemeyer, and senior John Havird combined to allow just two earned runs in 20 innings of work, striking out nine and not issuing a walk.
In the home opener on Friday evening, Dawson and senior third baseman Nick Sergakis led the charge in a 12-1 blowout win. Dawson was 3-for-3 at the plate with two triples, a home run, and five runs driven in, while Sergakis went 4-for-5 with a double, a triple, and three RBIs of his own.
Tully tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 3-1 on the season. The southpaw allowed just two hits as his earned run average shrunk to 2.73 on the year and his WHIP dropped to 1.11.
Game two of the series on Saturday required a late comeback for the Buckeyes, with Hofstra holding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Dawson tied the game with an RBI single and two batters later, Kuhn ripped a two-run single back up the middle for a 4-2 lead. It was all the scarlet and gray would need.
Niemeyer, who went seven strong, received a no-decision. Sophomore Seth Kinker picked up the win after throwing a scoreless eighth, and fellow soph Yianni Pavlopoulos set the Pride down in order in the ninth for his fourth save of the season.
Ohio State picked up the sweep on Sunday, again coming from behind in the late innings. Havird held Hofstra to a single run in his seven innings of work, but the Buckeyes still trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh.
After junior center fielder Troy Montgomery worked a one-out walk, freshman designated hitter Brady Cherry knocked a triple to left-center to tie the game. The next man up was Dawson, and he capped his weekend by delivering a game-winning RBI single back up the middle.
Pavlopoulos earned his second save in as many days, holding the score at 2-1 as Havird picked up his first victory of the season.
Up next for Ohio State is a midweek matchup against Xavier on Tuesday in Columbus. Next weekend, the Buckeyes open up the Big Ten schedule, hosting a three-game series against Northwestern.