Ohio State baseball won its second game in a row and pulled its record to 2-2 on its spring break trip to Florida on Tuesday afternoon, defeating Lehigh by a score of 7-3 at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte.
The win improved the Buckeyes’ record to 7-8, meaning they are within striking distance of finishing the first month of the season away from home at the .500 mark.
12 hits were banged out by the Ohio State bats in this one, with four of those going for extra bases. Tre’ Gantt extended his reached base streak to all 15 games thus far this season, homering, walking twice, and scoring a pair of runs, Jalen Washington reached base three times and scored twice, and Zach Ratcliff and Tyler Cowles drove in two runs apiece to pace the offense.
Noah McGowan, Bo Coolen, and Dominic Canzone also had multi-hit games for the Buckeyes, who have one game left in the Sunshine State before returning to Columbus for their home opener on Friday.
Making his first career start on the mound in scarlet and gray was freshman right-hander Jake Vance. After working 3.1 innings and yielding just one run in two relief appearances to date, the Canton Central Catholic product equipped himself adequately, despite lasting just 3.2 innings. Vance allowed three runs on five hits, walking a pair and striking out one.
Out of the bullpen, Austin Woodby tossed 2.1 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts, Joe Stoll punched out four in two scoreless innings of his own, and Curtiss Irving worked a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the victory.
Lehigh sent junior righty Matt Ratner to the bump, and he brought with him an earned run average over eight in three appearances during the early season. Those numbers held true to form, as he allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in just two innings of work before being pulled by head coach Sean Leary.
The Mountain Hawks fell to 2-9 on the year rand now have a four-game losing streak.
If Vance had any first start jitters, he didn’t make them apparent. In the first inning, he needed just nine pitches to send Lehigh down in order. And his offense rewarded him for his efforts in the bottom of the frame, staking him to a 2-0 lead.
Gantt walked and Washington was hit by a Ratner pitch to lead things off. McGowan and Ratcliff followed with consecutive RBI hits to get the Buckeyes on the board.
The ease of the first inning for Vance dissipated quickly in the second, though, as the Mountain Hawks got back-to-back singles by Patrick Donnelly and David Young to start things off, and Donnelly moved up to third on a wild pitch. Two batters later, John Scarr lifted a sacrifice fly to Gantt in center to cut the lead in half.
But Ohio State got that run right back in the bottom of the second. Cowles drew a leadoff walk, Canzone singled, and Jacob Barnwell laid down a bunt base hit to load the bases with nobody out. After Ratner induced a pop-out off the bat of Gantt, Washington delivered a sacrifice fly of his own to bring Cowles plateward and make it a 3-1 ballgame.
The next inning, the Buckeyes added another run and chased Ratner from the game. Coolen led off with a single and Brady Cherry doubled to gap in left-center to put two runners in scoring position. Cowles then sent a fly ball to center, bringing Coolen home to score.
Sam Ashley relieved for Lehigh and got Canzone and Barnwell to end the inning and limit the damage.
Lehigh refused to go away, though, working Vance for two runs in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one. Young walked and Jeff Shanfeldt singled to put two runners on, and both advanced a base on another wild pitch. A Scarr groundout and a single by Connor Donovan scored them.
Vance then issued his second walk of the outing to Stephen Fitzgerald, which ended his day. Austin Woodby came on out of the bullpen and got James Bleming to fly out to Canzone in right to end the inning.
Once again, Ohio State had an answer, scoring twice in the bottom half of the inning. Gantt led off by taking Ashley deep to right field, his second homer of the season. Washington then singled and McGowan doubled to give the Buckeyes two runners in scoring position with no one down. Ratcliff’s second RBI of the day, this one on a sacrifice fly to left, made it a 6-3 advantage.
All stayed quiet from there until the bottom of the seventh, when Ohio State tacked on its final run against Mountain Hawk reliever Cole McManimon. Coolen collected his second single of the day, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a single by Cowles.
Ohio State will finish up its stint in the Snowbird Classic on Wednesday afternoon against Bucknell. First pitch from North Charlotte Regional Park is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.