The rough start to the season for Ohio State baseball continued on Friday night in Buies Creek, North Carolina, as the squad lost to Campbell by a score of 7-2. The defeat drops the Buckeyes to 3-6 on the season and marked the sixth time the club scored two runs or fewer.
The Camels pounded out 11 hits, including six that went for extra bases.
In what’s become a bit of an early season theme, Ohio State’s offense was sluggish. The Buckeyes managed just two hits in the game, though they did work 10 walks, and went just 1-for-14 with runners on base.
The one bright spot was a two-run home run by Tyler Cowles in the fifth, his first as a member of the scarlet and gray.
Starter Adam Niemeyer had his issues, lasting just four innings for the second consecutive outing. The redshirt junior right-hander yielded four runs on eight hits, striking out one and hitting a pair of batters. Five of the Camels’ hits off Neimeyer went for extra bases.
Niemeyer got knocked around a bit in the first, but managed to limit the damage to a single run. Drew Butler led off with a double to left-center, but was picked off at second base. Adam Wyse and Cole Hallum followed with a single and a double, respectively, to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Niemeyer got fly outs to center by both Jimmy Monaghan and Jeff Hahs, but the first brought Wyse home with the game’s first run.
Wyse and Hallum went to work again in the bottom of the third, as Campbell pushed its advantage out to 3-0. Wyse was hit by a pitch to lead things off and Hallum smashed his second double in as many at-bats. Two batters later Hahs singled back up the middle to plate both.
Meanwhile, Winans was keeping the Buckeye bats in check, but ran into trouble in the fourth. After walking Jalen Washington and hitting Noah McGowan with a pitch, he sat at 59 pitches and head coach Justin Haire made a change. Winans is coming back from an injury that cost him 2016, so it was likely just some early-season caution.
Tyson Messer relieved, and on his first pitch, Ohio State attempted a double steal. Washington got into third, but McGowan was thrown out at second. Messer then struck out Zach Ratcliff and Bo Coolen to escape the jam.
The Camels added another run in the fourth, taking a 4-0 lead. Christian Jones sent a fly ball deep to center field with one down, and Tre’Gantt got turned around, allowing the ball to sail over his glove. Jones kept running until he was standing on third, and came home on a Bryce Myers groundout.
The Buckeyes finally got on the board in the top of the fifth. Brady Cherry worked a walk against Messer and Cowles hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Messer would eventually walk the bases loaded in the frame, but with two outs, Ratcliff went down swinging to end the threat.
Reece Calvert relieved Niemeyer in the fifth, and the big righty was fighting his command from the very beginning. He allowed a hit and four walks in an inning plus, and departed with two on and nobody out in the bottom of the sixth. Redshirt junior Kyle Michalik came on at that point, and after a bunt single, the bases were loaded.
Michalik got a popup on the infield from Trenton Davis, but then hit Callum with a pitch to force home Campbell’s fifth run of the night, and Monaghan sent a sacrifice fly to center for the sixth. It appeared that would be the extent of it when Hahs sent a chopper to third, but Cherry fumbled the ball and Butler came home to make it a 7-2 ballgame. After an infield single loaded the bases again, Michalik’s day was done.
Sophomore lefty Connor Curlis was the third pitcher of the inning, and on his first pitch he got a flyout to center to end the inning.
In the seventh, Messer walked Shea Murray and Gantt to put two on with nobody out, the eighth and ninth free passes of the night for Ohio State, and the Camels went to Wyatt Tyson out of the bullpen. The freshman right-hander got pop outs from Washington and McGowan to get out of the inning. There were no other problems from there for Campbell.
Curlis was just what head coach Greg Beals and pitching coach Mike Stafford needed in this one, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings and saving the rest of the bullpen. The Findlay, Ohio native didn’t allow a hit, striking out three and walking one.
Game two of the three-game weekend series is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game will be streaming live on the Big South Network, and Jake Post will take the mound for the Buckeyes.