It took a little while for Ohio State's bats to wake up on Sunday, but five runs in the late innings were enough to secure a 5-1 win and a much-needed series sweep over Purdue in West Lafayette.
The Buckeyes slipped just above the .500 mark in Big Ten play at 8-7, and have put themselves in position to make a run at a Big Ten tournament berth in the regular season's final three weekends.
A two-run double from junior center fielder Troy Montgomery in the seventh and a two-run single by junior catcher Jalen Washington in the eighth gave Ohio State what it needed to withstand a Boilermaker squad that, despite falling to 2-16 in the conference, played a tough series.
It was a collective effort kind of day for the Ohio State pitching staff, as five different arms took to the bump. Starter Adam Niemeyer lasted only two innings. The redshirt sophomore didn't look like his usual self, hitting three of the ten batters he faced, but worked out of situations with runners in scoring position to keep Purdue off the board.
Fellow redshirt sophomore Austin Woodby, who allowed the only run of the day for the Buckeyes, senior Daulton Mosbarger, sophomore Seth Kinker, senior Michael Horejsei, and redshirt sophomore Kyle Michalik all followed Niemeyer, combining to hold Purdue's lineup in check. Kinker got the win, his fourth of the season.
The Boilermakers' Shane Bryant brought his swing and miss stuff to the ballpark, racking up a career-high nine strikeouts in his five innings of work. The senior right-hander limited the Buckeyes to three hits and a walk in a scoreless effort, but was failed by a bullpen that yielded all five runs on six hits in a collective four innings by four different arms.
For the third straight game, Purdue scored first. A single, walk, and sacrifice bunt against Woodby put two runners in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the third, and designated hitter Daniel Sander delivered a sacrifice fly to bring home Kyle Johnson for a 1-0 lead that wouldn't budge for another four innings.
The long drought for Ohio State ended in the top of the seventh when Craig Nennig ripped a one-out double off the wall in left, Washington drew a walk, and Montgomery delivered the two-run double to make it a 2-1 game.
The Buckeyes added another in the top of the eighth to take a 3-1 lead. Ronnie Dawson doubled and Nick Sergakis singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. A chopper off the bat of Troy Kuhn, who had a quality 3-for-5 day, plated Dawson, and a throwing error by Duncan McKinnon allowed Sergakis to slide in safely at second.
A Nenning walk loaded the bases and Washington stepped in to deliver a two-run single and extend the lead to 5-1.
The Boilermakers were limited to just four runs in the series, as Ohio State's pitching staff really stepped up.
The Buckeyes will now host UAB in a two-game midweek series on Tuesday and Wednesday in Columbus before Iowa comes in for what is setting up to be a crucial Big Ten weekend series.