After Ohio State baseball was assaulted by Utah in game one of the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Surprise, Arizona on Thursday, head coach Greg Beals said the Buckeyes “didn’t have the proper energy, the proper approach, or the proper readiness on game day.” On Friday afternoon against an Oregon State squad ranked fifth in the nation according to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the scarlet and gray responded with their best performance of the young season, earning a 6-1 victory.
Redshirt junior Yianni Pavlopoulos bounced back from getting roughed up in his first start of the season with a six shutouts innings. The team’s closer a season ago, Pavlopoulos scattered just three hits, walked three, and struck out four against what is considered the most lethal lineup in the Pac-12.
Seth Kinker came out of the bullpen and tossed three innings for the save, allowing a run on two hits, walking one and striking out one.
Brady Cherry hit his second home run of the season and drove in a pair as part of a 2-for-4 day, while Tre Gantt, Noah McGowan, Tyler Cowles, Zach Ratcliff, and Jacob Barnwell all had multi-hit games as well.
The Beavers sent sophomore Bryce Fehmel to the mound coming off a solid first start of the season a week ago. The right-hander lasted five innings in this one, allowing three runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking one in taking the loss.
Ohio State got on the board in the top of the first thanks to leadoff man Gantt’s double, a single by McGowan, and an errant pickoff attempt by Fehmel. As the throw got away at first, Gantt trotted home for an early 1-0 lead.
Pavlopoulos and Fehmel kept things pretty quiet for the next few innings, but the Buckeyes extended their lead in the top of the fifth. Ratcliff managed an infield single off Fehmel’s glove to lead things off and Cherry hit the first pitch of his at-bat out of the yard to left. The team that had looked so mightily overmatched the night before now had a 3-0 lead against one of the top teams in the country.
Another run was tacked on in the seventh against Oregon State relievers Tommy Paul and Brandon Eisert. Shea Murray led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second by Barnwell. After Gantt struck out, both Jalen Washington and McGowan were hit by pitches by Paul to load the bases. For Washington, it already marked the fifth HBP of the season, causing the Buckeye baseball twitter account to reminisce about last year’s co-captain Nick Sergakis.
After the Beavers went to Eisert, an infield hit by Cowles brought Murray plateward and gave the Buckeyes a 4-0 advantage.
Oregon State fought back, though, just as would be expected from a team with aspirations of Omaha. In the bottom of the seventh, Kinker relieved Pavlopoulos after 85 pitches, and after one quick out, gave up a single and a double to allow the Beavers onto the scoreboard. The Ohio State relief ace didn’t break, though, rolling a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and limit the damage.
The Buckeyes got that run back and one more in the top of the ninth, adding a little extra insurance. Barnwell singled up the middle to lead off and advanced to second on a Gantt sacrifice bunt. After Washington was hit by yet another pitch, McGowan sent a bouncing ball to short that seemed a tailor-made double play, but the throw from Christian Donahue at second went awry and Barnwell scored.
Cowles stepped up and delivered his second run-scoring single of the game, pushing the lead to a much more comfortable 6-1.
Kinker took it from there, finishing out what was one of the team’s biggest upset victories in the Beals era.
Ohio State will get a rematch with Utah on Saturday night. The game is scheduled to get underway at 9:30 p.m. ET, and will feature Ryan Feltner on the bump for the Buckeyes against the Utes’ Riley Ottesen.