The Ohio State baseball team seems to be peaking at just the right time. The Buckeyes clinched a series win over Michigan on Saturday with a 7-3 victory in Columbus, improving to 12-8 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State's John Havird took the ball and struck out a career-high nine batters en route to his sixth win of the season. After a rough first inning, the lefty settled in and allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings without issuing a walk.
Ronnie Dawson, Troy Kuhn, and Tre Gantt each had two hits apiece to pace the offense. Dawson hit his 10th home run of the season, a mammoth shot, and drove in two runs and scored three.
Wolverine starter Oliver Jaskie wasn't terribly sharp, but also didn't get a lot of help from his defense in this one. The lefty allowed seven runs in his 3.2 innings, but only three were earned. Jaskie gave up seven hits and five walks while striking out seven.
Michigan wasted no time in touching up Havird, scoring twice in the top of the first courtesy of a two-run homer to right-center by Carmen Benedetti.
In the bottom of the second, Ohio State trimmed the lead in half thanks to some two-out hitting. Gantt doubled into the right-center gap and came around to score on a looping single to center by Nick Sergakis.
The Buckeyes claimed their first lead of the day in the third due in large part to two errors by Michigan second baseman Ako Thomas. Dawson reached base to lead things off on the first of those miscues and moved to third on a double down the left field line by Kuhn. A sharp grounder off the bat of Troy Montgomery then ate up Thomas and allowed both runners to come around for a 3-2 advantage.
More two-out hitting extended the Ohio State lead in the bottom of the fourth. Craig Nennig picked up an infield single and scored when Dawson tripled into right-center. Dawson came plateward on the play as well thanks to the third error of the day on Thomas, making it a 5-2 ballgame.
Jaskie couldn't recover after that, yielding a bunt single to Kuhn and then walking Montgomery, Jacob Bosiokovic, and Jalen Washington in quick succession to force home the Buckeyes' sixth run of the day. Keith Lehmann relieved and was able to strike out Brady Cherry to leave the bases loaded, but the damage had been done.
In the top of the eighth, the Wolverines cut the lead to 6-3 when Cody Lugbauer absolutely crushed a hanging breaking ball from reliever Michael Horejsei over the wall in right field. Seth Kinker came on for Ohio State and struck out Dominic Jamett to finish the frame.
Dawson got that run right back in the bottom of the frame with his no-doubt moonshot to right on a similar hanging breaking ball, giving the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead heading into the ninth.
Kinker worked the ninth to close things out and give Ohio State the series-clinching win.
The chance for a sweep will come on Senior Day at Bill Davis Stadium for the Buckeyes on Sunday. The game will air live on Big Ten Network and is scheduled to get underway at 3:00 p.m. ET.