The Ohio State baseball team mounted a monumental comeback in the late innings on Saturday afternoon at the Sunshine State Classic, erasing a five-run deficit to defeat Delaware, 15-10. With the wild win, the Buckeyes improved to 2-0 on the young season.
Ohio State had four home runs in the game, including two grand slams, scoring 11 runs in its last two at-bats to erase a five run lead and claim the victory. Redshirt senior Zach Ratcliff had a monster day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs and six runs batted in. Junior Noah McGowan hit a grand slam, as did sophomore Brady Cherry, who had a three-hit game.
The game stood at 9-4 until the top of the seventh when the Buckeyes put on their rally caps. Jacob Barnwell was hit by a pitch from Kyle Hinton and Tre Gantt worked a nine-pitch at-bat for a walk, sending Delaware to the bullpen. Jalen Washington was also hit by a pitch by Colman Vila to load the bases before McGowan laid into one and cleared the bases with his first homer in scarlet and gray.
Vila then gave up a double to Tyler Cowles and hit Bo Coolen with a pitch, ending his day without recording an out. Ratcliff stepped in against Ron Marinaccio and came through in the clutch once again, doubling to right-center to bring Cowles and Coolen plateward and give Ohio State a 10-9 lead. Cherry followed that with a single, and Dominic Canzone sent a sacrifice fly to right to score Ratcliff and extend the lead to two.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Buckeyes padded the lead with the game’s third grand slam. Washington singled to lead things off, Cowles walked, and Ratcliff picked up his fourth hit of the day with an infield single. Cherry then kept things completely wild, homering to left, and pushing the lead out to 15-9.
Yianni Pavlopoulos, last season’s closer for Ohio State, made the first start of his career, and it would turn out to be one he’d like to forget. Delaware tagged the junior right-hander for six runs on four hits and two walks in just 2.1 innings of work, but he escaped with a no-decision thanks to his teammates’ rally.
The win went to freshman Gavin Lyon, who recorded a single out before the Buckeyes’ comeback got started. Lyon was one of three players who made their debuts on the mound in the game, along with junior college transfers Reece Calvert and Dustin Jourdan.
The Blue Hens pounded out 17 hits in the losing effort.
After needing just six pitches to set the side down in order in the bottom of the first, starter Nick Spadafino ran into trouble in the second. Cowles led off with a double, but was erased when trying to advance to third on a Coolen ground ball to the shortstop. While the play appeared to hamper Ohio State’s scoring threat, Ratcliff then stepped in and took matters into his own hands, sending the ball over the wall in left field for the club’s first home run of the season.
Pavlopoulos got into his own jam in the top of the third, yielding a leadoff double Jeremy Ake, a single to Kevin Mohollen, and a walk to Kyle Baker to load the bases with one out. After issuing another free pass, to Nick Tierno, which brought Ake in to score, Jordan Glover, a preseason All-American according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, took Pavlopoulos deep to left. The grand slam put the Blue Hens up 5-2.
Nick Patten followed Glover with a single back up the middle, and Pavlopoulos’ day was done. Junior righty Kyle Michalik relieved, but couldn’t stop the bleeding, giving up a double to Doug Trimble and an RBI groundout to Diaz Nardo to bump the Buckeyes’ deficit to 6-2.
Glover struck again in the fourth, this time against Calvert. After giving up a pair of singles, the big righty served up a double to left-center. Mohollen scored from second, but Tierno was thrown out by the relay at home. The inning was over, but Delaware’s lead had now grown to five runs.
Not to be outdone by Glover, Ratcliff came up in the bottom half of the frame with two outs and Coolen on first after drawing a walk. The Buckeyes’ elder statesman launched his second longball of the game out to left, drawing Ohio State back to within 7-4.
Calvert couldn’t keep the Blue Hens off the board, though, yielding a single and stolen base to Trimble and a two-out RBI triple to James Meeker. Ake then followed with his third hit of the game, an RBI single to right, and the lead was back out to five. In all, Calvert allowed three runs on seven hits in his 3.2 innings.
Lyon relieved Calvert with two down in the seventh and recorded the final out. Jourdan then escaped a jam in the eighth. After back-to-back singles put runners on the corners with nobody out, the right-hander got Glover to line out to second, and Tierno was doubled off first. Patten then fouled out to end the threat.
Jourdan closed things out with two innings, allowing one run.
Ohio State has little time to enjoy the crazy victory, though, as the second of two Saturday games comes up shortly against Pittsburgh in Osceola, Florida.