Welcome back Jacob Bosiokovic. The Ohio State right fielder, who had missed nine games coming into the weekend with a hamstring injury, hit a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Buckeyes to a 5-4 win over Northwestern on Sunday in Columbus. It was Bosiokovic's team-leading sixth homer of the season, and his second walk-off winner.
Winning two of three on the weekend, Ohio State improved its record to 14-7-1 on the year, and 2-1 in the conference. Each Big Ten team plays four series at home and four away in a conference where wins will be at a premium. With roadtrips to play Maryland, Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota, protecting the home turf is especially important.
Bosiokovic was 2-for-5 on the day with two RBIs and two runs scored. He was one of three Buckeyes to go deep in the game, joined by senior third baseman Nick Sergakis and junior center fielder Troy Montgomery.
Sophomore right-hander Seth Kinker, who threw three innings of relief, got the win, improving to 3-1. Kinker allowed a run on three hits, striking out five.
John Havird started on the bump for Ohio State, finishing with three runs allowed, two earned, on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts in his six innings of work.
Northwestern starter Dan Kubiuk, who is also a backup quarterback on the Wildcats' football team, silenced the Ohio State bats through the early part of the game, tossing 5.2 innings of two-run, four-hit ball. Reliever Pete Hofman gave up Bosiokovic's blast and took the loss.
Left fielder RJ Watters did his part for the Cats as well, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a couple of highlight reel catches to rob extra bases.
As had been the case in the previous two games of the series, Northwestern drew first blood. In the top of the second, Havird issued a four-pitch walk to Connor Lind and a first-pitch single to Willie Bourbon. A sacrifice bunt by Grant Peikert moved the runners into scoring position and was followed by an RBI single from Watters.
After a walk to Jack Dunn loaded the bases, Havird induced a groundball to first baseman Troy Kuhn off the bat of Zach Jones. Instead of going home with the ball to cut down the run, though, Kuhn elected to step on first and throw to second. The ball got away, allowing Bourbon and Watters to push the early lead out to 3-0.
Ohio State got a run back in the bottom of the third on Montgomery's fifth home run of the season. The Buckeye leadoff man hit a shot over the wall in dead center field off Kubiuk to make it a 3-1 game.
The score remained the same for the next few innings, until Sergakis hits his homer. In the bottom of the sixth, the second longball in as many days for the senior co-captain trimmed the lead to 3-2.
After Kuhn followed with a base hit, Kubiuk's day was done. Reliever Tommy Bordignon finished the sixth with no more damage.
An insurance run for the Wildcats in the eighth inning off of Kinker made it a 4-2 game. Peikert singled back up the middle with two outs, then stole second. Watters followed that with a single back through the box to score the run.
That insurance run proved to be huge for Northwestern, as Ohio State put another one on the board in the bottom of the frame. Bosiokovic and Ronnie Dawson singled to lead things off, and an error on right fielder Matt Hopfner allowed both to advance into scoring position. Sergakis then sent a long fly to the track in right, and Bosiokovic trotted home. Dawson would be stranded at third, though, and the Buckeyes were still a run short.
Then Bosiokovic brought the house down.
The Buckeyes will have little time to enjoy the series win, though, as they will play a pair of midweek games against in-state opponents. Ohio State travels to Athens on Tuesday to take on Ohio University and hosts Toledo in Columbus on Wednesday.