The woes for Ohio State’s bullpen continued on Friday evening in the team’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota. In a game in which the Buckeye bats were largely held in check, late runs given up by the relief corps proved to be the difference, as the Gophers prevailed, 5-2.
Lucas Gilbreath was dominant on the bump for Minnesota. The lefty set down the first 10 Ohio State hitters he faced, and yielded just two runs, one earned, on four hits in his 6.2 innings, striking out seven without issuing a walk.
Alex Boxwell hit a home run and scored three times for the Gophers, who improved to 12-8 on the season.
Tyler Hanson and Brian Glowicki finished things off for Minnesota out of the bullpen, combining to toss 2.1 scoreless innings.
Reliever Joe Stoll took the loss, giving up two runs in just 0.1 innings, as the Scarlet and Gray fell to 9-12.
Jake Post registered a no-decision for the Buckeyes despite another solid outing. The right-hander allowed two runs, only one earned, on seven hits in six innings of work, keeping the team within striking distance.
Jalen Washington notched the lone extra-base hit off Gilbreath, a fourth inning triple into the right field corner, and also had an RBI groundout. Brady Cherry had a pair of hits and Noah West had a hit and scored a run on a wild pitch on a night when head coach Greg Beals saw his offense go 1-for-6 in limited opportunities with runners in scoring position.
Minnesota drew first blood, scoring an unearned run off Post in the top of the third. Boxwell reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and advanced to third on a passed ball by Ohio State catcher Jacob Barnwell. Toby Hanson then brought him home with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The Gophers tacked on another in the fifth when Boxwell hit a solo shot that cleared the center field fence some 400 feet away.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Buckeyes were finally able to string enough together to tie the game. West singled and stole second, Tre’ Gantt reached on an error, and Barnwell laid down a bunt single to load the bases with one out. Gilbreath then uncorked a wild pitch to plate West and a Washington groundball brought Gantt home to knot the game 2-2.
But Stoll ran into trouble the next half-inning, surrendering the lead while only recording one out. Bowell drew a one-out walk and Hanson singled to put runners at the corners. Matt Stemper then hit a comebacker to Seth Kinker, who had come in to relieve Stoll. The right-hander knocked it down but was unable to make the play cleanly, and Boxwell scored ahead of the tag, the eventual game-winner.
Jordan Smith followed that a single to right, which brought Hanson in for a 4-2 lead.
The Gophers added an insurance run in the ninth, thanks to a triple by Smith and an RBI single by Jordan Kozicky off Curtiss Irving.
Ohio State and Minnesota will finish up their series on Saturday, playing a doubleheader at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus. First pitch of game one is scheduled for noon, with both streaming live on BTN2Go.