One big swing was all it took for Ohio State to find itself on the wrong side of a 6-3 ballgame on Tuesday evening in Columbus against Alabama-Birmingham. A grand slam in the second inning by Blazer senior Griffin Gum proved to be too much for the Buckeyes to overcome.
Gum was 2-for-5 with four runs batted in and two runs scored on the night to lead UAB to the victory.
Ohio State scattered seven hits on the night as five UAB pitchers combined for a solid outing. Junior center fielder Troy Montgomery was one of the few bright spots, going 2-for-4 with a home run, an RBI, and two runs scored.
Freshman Ryan Feltner had a tough go of things on the bump for the Buckeyes. The right-hander lasted just four innings, getting tagged for five runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out four, as he fell to 1-3 on the year.
For the fifth consecutive game, Ohio State spotted its opponent an early lead. UAB got a run off Feltner in the top of the first thanks to a two-out RBI single by Carter Pharis.
The Buckeyes answered right back in the bottom of the frame, though, tying the game. Montgomery singled to lead things off, stole second, and came home on a two-out double by Troy Kuhn. It was the 42nd double of Kuhn's career, pulling him into a tie for 17th with Nick Swisher on the program's all-time list.
The Blazers put a crooked number up in the top of the second thanks to the grand slam by Gum, taking a 5-1 lead as Feltner looked shakier on the mound than he has in weeks. It was the fourth career longball and first of the season for the Gum.
It was Montgomery again in the fourth that got Ohio State on the board, launching a no-doubt solo homer to right field. It was the Fortville, Indiana product's eighth of the season.
Austin Woodby relieved Feltner in the fifth, and abruptly gave the run right back to UAB. Pharis drew a leadoff walk and came around on an RBI single two batters later by Adam Smith to push the lead to 6-2.
Craig Nennig led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and came around to score on a Jacob Bosiokovic groundout to cut the lead to 6-3, but this was not the Buckeyes' night. Thomas Lowery came on out of the bullpen to close things out for UAB, throwing 1.2 scoreless innings for his eighth save of the season.
The good news is that the loss does not impact Ohio State's standing in the Big Ten, where it is currently occupying eighth place, which would be good enough to make the conference tournament. The top eight teams will be headed to Omaha at the end of May to compete for an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
Game two of this midweek series is scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:35 p.m. ET and will be streaming live on BTN Plus. Senior Daulton Mosbarger is slated to take the hill for the Buckeyes, while the Blazers' starter is still to be determined.