Mother Nature forced opening weekend at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus to be cut short for the Ohio State baseball team. After playing and losing their home opener to Xavier on Saturday, the Buckeyes were forced to hit the road to complete the series with the Musketeers in Cincinnati. The road proved to be no more kind than home for the team, though, as Ohio State dropped both games of a doubleheader on Sunday in walk-off fashion.
The Buckeyes lost their second consecutive series, and now stand at 8-11 on the season. The team will play its next nine games at home, though, in what may represent the greatest opportunity to get things turned around.
Ohio State fought back from an early deficit in the first game of the double dip to take a lead in the middle innings. But Xavier tied things in the seventh and then walked off a 5-4 win in the bottom of the ninth, both via run-scoring sacrifice flies by Mitch Gallagher.
Gallagher went 1-for-3 for the Musketeers, driving in three runs. Will Larue and Matt Fallon each added two hits and an RBI apiece in the winning effort.
The loss went to Kyle Michalik, who was responsible for the game-winning run in relief.
Co-captain Jalen Washington had a stellar game at the plate for Ohio State, homering twice and driving in three runs. Tyler Cowles also homered and drove in a run as part of a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, while Tre’ Gantt also contributed a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4, continuing his reached base safely streak in every game thus far in the season.
Ryan Feltner was on the mound for the Buckeyes, and after a rough start, settled in pretty nicely. The sophomore right-hander worked 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out seven. Feltner did not factor into the decision.
Xavier used just two arms all game, getting five innings out of starter Garrett Schilling, who took a no-decision, and four from Trey Schramm, who didn’t allow a run and earned his first win of the season.
The Musketeers put up a crooked number on Feltner in the home half of the second, taking an early 3-0 lead. Sam Flamini led off with a single and Nate Monastra and Nate Soria each walked, loading the bases with nobody out. Larue then sent a sacrifice fly to score Flamini, Fallon executed a squeeze bunt to score Monastra, and Gallagher delivered an RBI single to bring Soria plateward.
Ohio State bounced back in both the top of the third and the top of the fourth, getting a run back in each thanks to leadoff solo home runs by Cowles and Washington.
In the fifth, the Buckeyes took a 4-3 lead when Washington hit his second longball of the day, with two-outs and Jacob Barnwell aboard. It was the last time the scarlet and gray would push anything across.
A leadoff walk in the seventh and a leadoff hit by pitch in the ninth came back to bite Ohio State. In each instance, those runners came around to score on Gallagher’s sacrifice flies, pushing Xavier over the top.
Ohio State lost in a walk-off once again in game two, as closer Yianni Pavlopoulos gave up a two-run home run to Joe Gellenbeck in the bottom of the ninth. Xavier claimed a 6-5 victory.
The loss overshadowed a monster game for Noah McGowan, who hit three home runs and drove in all five runs for the Buckeyes.
The three jacks were the junior’s third, fourth, and fifth roundtrippers of the season. The third of those came in the top of the ninth, breaking a 4-4 tie.
But Pavlopoulos hit the leadoff hitter in the bottom half, and Gellenbeck sent a long fly over the wall in right-center.
Adam Niemeyer took the ball for the Buckeyes, but had a short start in chilly conditions in Cincinnati. The righty went 4.1 innings, allowing a run on three hits, walking one and striking out a season-high six batters.
It was once again the longball that Ohio State utilized to get on the board first. This time it was McGowan, who took Musketeers’ starter Greg Jacknewitz deep with two out in the third for a 1-0 lead.
Xavier answered in the bottom half, though, when a Blaine Griffiths double off Niemeyer scored Joe Gellenbeck with two outs.
The score stayed knotted at one until the seventh, when McGowan once again hit a big fly. Noah West led off the inning with a single and Barnwell walked. With Musketeers’ reliever Conor Grammes on the mound, the Buckeye junior hit one over the wall in left field for a 4-1 advantage.
Grammes led off the bottom half of the frame against Woodby, and returned the favor with a solo homer of his own to trim the deficit to two.
The margin for error was erased in the bottom of the eighth, when Xavier made it a tie ballgame. A one-out single by Rylan Bannon against lefty Joe Stoll gave the Musketeers life, and after Curtiss Irving relieved, a walk to Monastra and a single by Soria brought the run around.
An infield single by Grammes loaded the bases and prompted Ohio State head coach Greg Beals to go to the bullpen for the third arm of the inning in Jake Vance. Vance walked Larue to force home the tying run.
But McGowan came through again in the top of the ninth, hitting his third longball of the game off Xavier reliever David Williams. It would go for naught, though, with the Musketeers claiming another dramatic win.
Up next, the Buckeyes will host Youngstown State in a midweek matchup on Tuesday night at Bill Davis Stadium before opening Big Ten play against Minnesota at home next Friday.