Three errors leading to three unearned runs proved to be Ohio State's undoing on Saturday at the Snowbird Classic as the team fell to Illinois State, 5-4. The Buckeyes are now 6-3-1 on the season, with one game remaining in Port Charlotte, Florida this weekend.
Junior co-captain Jalen Washington had a nice showing, going 4-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs batted in. Sophomore starting pitcher Adam Neimeyer also overcame a sluggish start to deliver a quality performance, but miscues in the field could not be overcome.
Just as happened in Friday's game against Seton Hall, Ohio State fell behind in the top of the first inning. Niemeyer was touched up for two runs after a leadoff single and a hit batter put two runners on right off the bat for Illinois State. A sacrifice bunt put Owen Miller in position to pick up an RBI groundout that scored Daniel Dwyer. A passed ball by Washington brought Joe Kelch plateward for an early 2-0 Redbird lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, right fielder Jacob Bosiokovic, who has been mashing the ball in the early season, legged out an infield single and was immediately lifted for a pinch runner. Daulton Mosbarger replaced him in right, and no further word as to his condition was released as of the time of this writing.
In the top of the second, the Redbirds jumped on Niemeyer again. Back to back doubles to lead things off by Brian Rodemoyer and Ryan Hutchinson made it a 3-0 advantage.
The Buckeyes bit into the lead in the bottom of the second as Washington made amends for the early passed ball. The junior co-captain led the inning off with a single the other way, then stole second and advanced to third when the catcher's throw went astray. Washington crossed the plate when Brady Cherry singled through the left side to make it 3-1.
Niemeyer settled down after the three early runs, blanking the Redbirds over the next four innings as his teammates climbed back into things. He threw six innings before being relieved by Ryan Feltner, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits, fanning four and not issuing a walk in a no-decision.
Washington again helped Ohio State to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the third. Mosbarger and Ronnie Dawson walked to start things off, and Nick Sergakis bounced into a fielder's choice to put runners at the corners with one out. After Sergakis trotted down to second on a wild pitch, Washington sent his second single of the day off Illinois State starter Steve Heilenbach through the left side of the infield. Mosbarger came home and trimmed the lead to 3-2.
It was Washington again who provided the Buckeyes with offense in the bottom of the fifth, as an RBI double down the line in right tied the game up at 3-3. With two outs in the inning, Dawson doubled and stole third, and after a Sergakis walk, Washington came through with his third hit and second run batted in of the day.
The game-tying hit ended Heilenbach's day after 4.2 innings. The righty allowed three runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out one. Right-hander Jake Sale came on in relief and ended the Ohio State threat.
An error by Sergakis in the top of the seventh gave Illinois State an opening to retake the lead. Hutchinson reached on the miscue and and advanced to third on a single by Nick Zouras, then came home on RBI groundout by Dwyer for a 4-3 advantage.
Sergakis was let off the hook in the bottom half of the inning, though, as Troy Montgomery led things off with his second home run of the season, a shot to right off lefty Jack Czeszewski that tied the game 4-4.
Another Sergakis error ended up costing the Buckeyes the game, though. With runners on the corners, two outs, and Yianni Pavlopoulos on to relieve Feltner, a Dwyer ground ball was misplayed by the senior co-captain to score Hutchinson. It was the third unearned run yielded by Ohio State on the day and gave the Redbirds a 5-4 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Buckeyes finish up their time in the Sunshine State on Sunday against Boston College. Senior John Havird is expected to be on the bump for the 1:00 p.m. ET start.