The Jekyll and Hyde routine of the Ohio State baseball team continued on Saturday afternoon against Campbell in Buies Creek, North Carolina. A day after managing just two runs on two hits, the Buckeyes blasted the Camels 7-1 behind three longballs.
Redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Ratcliff hit two home runs and drove in three to lead the charge, while senior shortstop Jalen Washington went deep as well, part of a 2-for-5 day at the plate with a pair of runs scored and two driven in.
Jake Post, a redshirt senior right-hander, was on the bump, and kept Campbell mostly silent for six innings in his second quality start of the season. The Chesterton, Indiana native allowed one run on five hits, walking one and striking out a career-high eight, as he earned his first victory in nearly two years.
A five-run first inning propelled Ohio State, and the squad never looked back. The Buckeyes got two-run home runs from Jalen Washington and Zach Ratcliff, jumping on Camels’ starter Andrew Witczak. Witczak wouldn’t record an out, being tagged with five runs on four hits and a pair of walks.
As was the case in Friday’s game, Tre’ Gantt reached base to lead off the game, but unlike in that one, he came around to score. On a 3-2 pitch, Washington bombed his first home run of the season to left-center to give Ohio State an early 2-0 lead.
Witczak dug the hole deeper, walking Noah McGowan with a full count and then getting absolutely crushed by Ratcliff on a long homer to left to extend the advantage to 4-0 with nobody out in the inning.
Consecutive singles by Bo Coolen and Brady Cherry after that spelled the end of Witczak’s day, having not recorded an out. Alex Yarem relieved, and his first pitch went to the screen, allowing both runners to move up into scoring position. He ended up walking Tyler Cowles to load the bases.
Shea Murray went down on strikes, the first Buckeye not to reach base in the game, but Jacob Barnwell followed with a fly ball to right field that brought Coolen plateward for the fifth run of the opening frame.
Campbell got on the board against Post in the second. Jeff Hahs had a one-out single and Matt Barefoot sent a double down the left field line. The throw in from Cowles missed the cutoff man, and Hahs wheeled all the way around to make it a 5-1 game. Post got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and the threat.
Yarem put zeroes up on the board in the second and third, but ran into issues in the fourth. Washington singled with one out, stole second, and advanced to third on an error by Christian Jones at second base on a roller by McGowan, putting runners on the corners and prompting another pitching change.
Jack Yusko came out of the bullpen and walked Ratcliff and Coolen back-to-back, forcing home Washington for Ohio State’s sixth run. The freshman right-hander was able to strike out Cherry and get a liner to second from Cowles to leave them loaded.
Post, meanwhile, was cruising. Through five innings, he had scattered just five hits, striking out eight and not issuing a walk.
With Wes Noble on the mound for the Camels in the top of the sixth, the Buckeyes pushed the lead out to 7-1 when Ratcliff went deep again to left field, his team-leading fourth of the year.
Dustin Jourdan relieved Post in the seventh, and the junior righty from Texas scattered three hits over two scoreless innings. Redshirt junior Curtiss Irving pitched the ninth, sealing the victory.
The rubber match of the series will take place on Sunday. Ryan Feltner will be on the bump for the Buckeyes, with the game scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. ET.