Ohio State freshman Brady Cherry had himself a day at the plate on Tuesday evening, keying the Buckeyes' 11-6 win over Xavier in Columbus. Cherry hit his fourth home run of the season, a grand slam, and drove in five runs.
Senior Craig Nennig also had a day he won't soon forget, belting the first homer of his collegiate career and driving in three.
As the team showed over the weekend against Hofstra, an early deficit is not something that will cause panic. Ohio State found itself in an early five-run hole on this day and battled back once again, improving to 12-6-1 on the year.
Freshman Ryan Feltner had a tough outing as Xavier strung together four hits en route to three runs in the top of the first. First baseman Joe Gellenbeck drove in the first with a double to left-center, and was followed by shortstop Andre Jernigan who drove a fly ball over the left field wall.
The Musketeers added another run in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Catcher Daniel Rizzie to start the inning and stole second almost immediately. Feltner then retired both Gellenbeck and Jernigan, but right fielder Daniel Morton delivered a two-out single to bring Rizzie around.
In the fifth, Rizzie again got things started for Xavier, singling to lead off and coming around to score on a double by Gellenbeck. Head coach Greg Beals made his way to the mound and brought in junior Joe Stoll from the bullpen to end Feltner's day after 4.1 innings of work. The righty gave up five runs on ten hits in a no-decision.
Meanwhile, junior Brad Kirschner was firmly in control for the Musketeers. The lefty stifled the Buckeyes' bats through the first four innings, but they got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Cherry and junior left fielder Ronnie Dawson came through with back-to-back two-out RBI singles to trim the lead to 5-2.
Stoll gave up a sixth run to Xavier in the top of the sixth on a solo homer by left fielder Will LaRue. It was the last run the Musketeers would muster.
Facing a four-run deficit, Ohio State again got a jolt from Cherry. Reliever Trey Schramm grooved a fastball with the bases loaded and the Indiana native made him pay. The grand slam tied the ballgame and the Buckeyes didn't look back.
In the seventh, the scarlet and gray got some power from a very unlikely source as they ran the lead out to 9-6. After a double by senior first baseman Troy Kuhn and a walk by junior catcher Jalen Washington, Nennig hit his three-run homer.
The Buckeyes got a pair of insurance runs in the eighth after Dawson reached on a fielder's choice and stole second, putting himself into position to score on a single through the left side of the infield by third baseman Nick Sergakis. Sergakis then came around on a throwing error by third baseman Rylan Bannon, pushing the lead to 11-6.
Out of the bullpen, Stoll, senior Daulton Mosbarger, sophomore Austin Woodby, and senior Michael Horejsei tossed 4.2 innings of one-run relief. Woodby picked up his third win of the season.
Up next for the Buckeyes is opening of Big Ten play. Northwestern will travel to Columbus for a three-game set Friday through Sunday.