Ronnie Dawson put an exclamation point on the regular season for Ohio State baseball, hitting both game-tying and game-winning home runs, as the Buckeyes defeated Minnesota 6-5 in ten innings. The win gave Ohio State a series victory over the Gophers, who clinched the conference regular season title on Friday, and a 15-9 record in Big Ten play.
Down a run in the top of the eighth and facing a Gophers' bullpen that shut the Buckeyes down on Friday, Dawson launched his 11th homer of the season to tie things up.
T8 | TIE GAME! @ronniedawsonn blasts his 11th HR of the year.— The OSU Baseball ⚾️ (@OhioState_BASE) May 21, 2016
OSU 5, No. 24 MINN 5#GoBucks https://t.co/WVVuK1zw0K
The junior left fielder came to the plate again with one out in the tenth, and scorched a nearly identical shot to put Ohio State on top. Dawson had been 0-for-3 on the day before the two longballs.
T10 | @ronniedawsonn DOES IT AGAIN!!! His second dinger of the game!— The OSU Baseball ⚾️ (@OhioState_BASE) May 21, 2016
OSU 6, No. 24 MINN 5#GoBucks https://t.co/ZDx5rvxWuu
Yianni Pavlopoulos came on to shut the door in the bottom of the tenth, setting Minnesota down 1-2-3 for his 13th save of the season.
Ryan Feltner got the win, improving to 2-3 on the season, after tossing a scoreless ninth inning out of the bullpen.
Saturday's Big Ten results were not all in as of this writing, but it appears Ohio State will be the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament in Omaha, and open with a game against Michigan at 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Like John Havird on Friday night, Ohio State starter Adam Neimeyer couldn't avoid a big inning against the Big Ten's most explosive offense. A four-run fourth inning ultimately doomed the redshirt sophomore righty to a short outing after he allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings of work, striking out four and walking one in a no-decision
Troy Kuhn and Troy Montgomery also had banner days at the plate. Kuhn went 2-for-5, including a double that moved him into a tie for sixth place on the program's all-time leader board, and scored a pair of runs. Montgomery had two hits of his own, with an RBI and a run scored.
Minnesota starter Toby Anderson was solid, but by no means spectacular, working 5+ innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits, with no strikeouts or walks. The Gophers' bullpen, which had been lights out on Friday, just could not contain Dawson and hold onto the lead.
For the third straight game, Ohio State took the early lead. Kuhn reached base on an error by Minnesota third baseman Micah Coffey and Montgomery bunted his way aboard. After the two moved up a base on a wild pitch by Anderson, Jacob Bosiokovic came up with an RBI groundout and Jalen Washington had a run-scoring single for a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Minnesota broke through against Niemeyer, taking a 4-2 lead. Back-to-back singles by Austin Athmann and Coffey led things off and a sacrifice bunt by Alex Boxwell moved both into scoring position. Toby Hanson followed with a sacrifice fly to bring Athmann home and Riley Smith singled in Coffey to things up at 2.
After a walk to Jordan Smith, leadoff man Dan Motl tripled to right field on a ball lost in the sun, which brought home two more runs. As was the case on Friday night, the Gophers put up a nice crooked number to charge back to the lead.
The Buckeyes got one right back in the top of the fifth thanks to a leadoff double by Tre Gantt. The sophomore right fielder moved to third on a groundout by Nick Sergakis and then scored on a bunt by Craig Nennig to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
The lead shot right back to two in the bottom of the fifth, as a pair of singles by Athmann and Matt Fiedler set up Boxwell for an RBI groundout and a 5-3 lead. Niemeyer was pulled with two outs in the frame, and Seth Kinker assured no further damage was done.
But Ohio State would not back down. Kuhn led off the sixth with a double into the left field gap and came around to score on a Montgomery single back up the middle to trim the lead to 5-4 and end Anderson's day.
Dawson and the Buckeye bullpen took it from there, ending the regular season on a resoundingly positive note. Ohio State won four straight Big Ten series to close things out, and has plenty of momentum going with it to Omaha.