Ohio State baseball reached a milestone in beating Northwestern, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon in Columbus. The win was No. 2,500 in program history, making the Buckeyes one of just four Big Ten clubs and 22 nationwide to reach that mark.
The victory also gave Ohio State its first in conference play this season and squared the series with the Wildcats. The Buckeyes are now 13-7-1 in 2016.
Starter Adam Niemeyer put in his third straight solid start for Ohio State. The redshirt sophomore right-hander scattered nine hits in his seven innings of work, allowing just two runs, striking out a career-high eight, and not issuing a walk. Niemeyer has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three outings and has walked just one in his last four.
Junior leadoff man Troy Montgomery had a pair of doubles and a run batted in on the afternoon, raising his batting average to .317. Senior first baseman Troy Kuhn added three hits of his own in the winning effort.
As in Friday's lid lifter, Northwestern scored in its first at-bat. After a one-out double by Zach Jones, starting pitcher Matt Hopfner helped his cause with an RBI single off Niemeyer for a 1-0 lead.
The Buckeyes got that run back in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a miscue by Jones. Jacob Bosiokovic walked and Nick Sergakis singled after an 11-pitch at-bat to put runners on the corners. Sergakis then got caught in a rundown on a pickoff attempt, and Jones, seeing Bosiokovic edging away from third, fired the ball away passed Connor Lind at the hot corner, allowing the run to score.
Ohio State claimed its first lead of the series in the bottom of the second. Troy Kuhn led off with a single and advanced to second on a bunt base hit by Jalen Washington. After a fielder's choice grounder by L. Grant Davis moved Kuhn to third, Craig Nennig delivered an RBI single to the opposite field for a 2-1 lead.
Montgomery followed Nennig with a double into the right field corner that plated Davis for a 3-1 advantage.
The Wildcats cut the lead in half in the top of the third after Jack Dunn smacked a leadoff single and came around to score on a two-out single up the middle off the bat of Lind. It was the last bit of damage the Cats would do to Niemeyer.
Hopfner's day on the bump would end after 2.2 innings thanks to a hustle double by Kuhn. The Northwestern lefty allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits, and stayed in the game as designated hitter. Josh Davis finished off the inning out of the Northwestern bullpen.
Davis gave up a run in the bottom of the fourth after a leadoff walk to Craig Nennig came back to bite him. Montgomery moved Nennig to second on a groundball, and the Buckeye shortstop then stole third. Bosiokovic delivered a single to left on the very next pitch to bring Nennig home, extending the lead to 4-2.
Ohio State picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh against lefty reliever Jake Stolley. Sergakis, who extended his reached base streak to all 21 games on Saturday, walked to lead off. He scored to make it a 5-2 ballgame three batters later when fellow co-captain Washington laced a single to center.
Senior lefty Daulton Mosbarger threw two scoreless innings in relief of Niemeyer to close things out.
The rubber match of the series will take place on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. ET at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, and will be televised live on Big Ten Network. Lefty John Havird is scheduled to pitch for the Buckeyes against Northwestern righty Dan Kubiuk.