The beginning of the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge was not kind to the Ohio State baseball team, as the Buckeyes took a 12-0 whooping from Utah on Thursday night in Surprise, Arizona.
Ohio State now stands 2-3 on the young season, and has three games left in the desert.
As a team, the Buckeyes managed just five hits, with Jalen Washington notching two for his third multi-hit game of 2017. Meanwhile, the Utes banged out 16 hits, six of which went for extra bases, as they moved to 3-1 on the year.
Starting pitching Adam Niemeyer had his struggles, which were compounded by faulty defense. In four innings of work, the redshirt junior righty allowed eight runs, but just four of them were earned thanks to three errors committed behind him.
Sophomore left-hander Connor Curlis made his 2017 debut in relief and didn’t fare much better. The Findlay, Ohio native allowed four runs on seven hits in his four innings pitched, striking out three and walking one.
Utah freshman lefty Jacob Rebar made his first collegiate start and was brilliant, tossing 5.2 shutout innings, yielding just three hits, striking out three, and walking one.
Oliver Dunn drove in four runs for the defending Pac-12 champs, while Dallas Carroll, Josh Rose, and Kyle Hoffman each had a pair of RBIs.
In the top of the first, both Tre Gantt and Washington singled at the top of the order, but Gantt was thrown out attempting to steal second and Washington was picked off at first. Utah then capitalized on another Ohio State mistake in the bottom half of the inning to score the game’s first run.
Leadoff man DaShawn Keirsey singled off Niemeyer and then advanced to second on a throwing error by catcher Jacob Barnwell. Two groundouts later, he crossed the plate.
In the bottom of the second, the Utes took advantage of another miscue. Chandler Anderson reached on an error by Washington at short, stole second, and after a base hit by Zack Moeller, scored on a single by Hoffman for a 2-0 lead.
Utah wasn’t done, either, scoring four more times in the frame. With Moeller and Hoffman on, Keirsey to load the bases and Dunn doubled down the line in left, clearing the bases. A single two batters later by Hunter Simmons brought Dunn plateward and extended the lead to six.
Niemeyer managed to escape a bases loaded jam without damage in the third, but the Buckeye bats were held silent by Rebar, who set down 14 batters in a row after issuing a first inning walk to Tyler Cowles.
Sloppy play bit Ohio State once again in the bottom of the fourth. After two quick outs, Washington committed his second error of the game, which allowed Simmons to reach base and extend the inning. Rose followed that up by launching a home run over the fence in right field, pushing the advantage to 8-0.
Curlis relieved Niemeyer in the fifth, but the Utes didn’t seem to notice and just kept up the onslaught. Anderson singled to lead things off, Moeller walked, and Hoffman doubled into the gap in left-center to bring Anderson around. Dunn executed a squeeze bunt to score Moeller and send Hoffman to third, which was followed by a Carroll RBI double to left-center, making it 11-0.
A Barnwell double down the left field line with one out in the top of the sixth was the first base runner for the Buckeyes since that Cowles walk in the first. It was Barnwell’s first hit of the season after starting out 0-for-9 at the plate. He advanced to third on a Gantt groundout, but was stranded there.
In the bottom half, Utah tacked on another to take a 12-0 lead. With two outs, Anderson legged out an infield hit, then advanced to second on a wild pitch by Curlis. Moeller drove him in with a double to center.
Noah McGowan led off the seventh for Ohio State with a single. After Cowles and Bo Coolen struck out, freshman Connor Pohl walked in his first collegiate plate appearance, and Brady Cherry walked as well to load the bases. Once again, though, the Buckeyes couldn’t cash in, as Shea Murray struck out to leave them loaded.
Ohio State wouldn’t threaten again, as Chase Bauerle, Trenton Stoltz, and Hunter Rodriguez combined to throw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.
The scarlet and gray will take the field again on Friday, this time matching up with Oregon State, the fifth-ranked team in the country. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET at Surprise Stadium.