On commencement day in Columbus, Ohio State passed a big test with a 3-0 win over Iowa which clinched a series win.
The Buckeyes, who improved to 10-8 in Big Ten play and kept their slim lead for the eighth and final conference tournament berth, scored all of their runs in the first inning and made it stand up.
Despite being outhit by the Hawkeyes 10-6, Ohio State's pitching came up big when it needed to, rolling four double plays and inducing a number of weak ground balls with runners on base.
Freshman Ryan Feltner took to the mound to start for the Buckeyes, filling in for usual Sunday starter Adam Niemeyer, who is nursing a hamstring injury. The right-hander showed how much he has developed this season, working out of trouble a number of times in going four shutout innings, yielding four hits, walking two, and striking out four.
The combination of sophomore Seth Kinker, senior Michael Horejsei, and redshirt sophomore Yianni Pavlopoulos threw the final five innings, keeping Iowa off the board.
Left fielder Ronnie Dawson, who has seen his draft stock soar this season, had another good day at the plate. The junior from Grove City, Ohio went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs, and a run scored.
Iowa sent sophomore Nick Gallagher to the hill, but he was forced to exit the game in the third inning due to an injury after stumbling off the back of the mound going after a popup. The righty allowed three runs on three hits in 2.1 innings, striking out two and walking three before exiting.
Gallagher walked Troy Montgomery and Craig Nennig to start the home half of the first inning, and Dawson made him pay with a two-run double smacked down the third base line.
B1 | Two-run double by @ronniedawsonn. The #Buckeyes strike first on his 16th double!https://t.co/VWCGcK5izd— The OSU Baseball ⚾️ (@OhioState_BASE) May 8, 2016
UI 0, OSU 2#GoBucks
Three batters later, Tre Gantt picked up Dawson with a two-out RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
The game moved along without any more scoring, as both sides had their opportunities but failed to cash them in.
Kinker relieved Feltner to begin the fifth inning, and also worked his way out of trouble, going 1.2 innings scoreless. Horejsei followed him and got through 2.1 innings of his own bending but not breaking.
Horejsei was one of four Buckeyes, along with L. Grant Davis, Ryan Leffel, and Nick Sergakis, to receive their diplomas before the game.
Recognized our four graduating @OhioState_BASE seniors today before the series finale vs Iowa. Congrats! #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/5SqDWMToli— gene smith (@OSU_AD) May 8, 2016
Pavlopoulos worked a scoreless ninth, striking out two, to pick up his 10th save of the season.
Ohio State will host a two-game midweek series against Florida Atlantic, ranked No. 19 in the country, on Tuesday and Wednesday before a three-game home Big Ten series against archrival Michigan next weekend.