Day and night. Yin and yang. Hope and despair. All of these terms roughly approximate the consistency that has been shown by the Ohio State baseball team on a game-to-game basis in 2017. A day after beating Purdue by 11 runs, the Buckeyes suffered a thorough loss of their own on Saturday evening, 6-1, at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus.
In a near-perfect reversal of game one of the series, Purdue scored early and often, building a big lead that would ultimately stand up. The Boilers got a run in the first, three in the second, and one more in both the third and fourth in knotting the series at a game apiece.
As has been the case much of the season, sophomore Ryan Feltner struggled to command the bottom of the strike zone, and as a result, got knocked around a bit. The big right-hander allowed six runs on six hits with three walks, three hit batsmen, and four strikeouts, but did manage to battle and give his club 6.2 innings.
Also keeping to script on this night was the inconsistency of the Ohio State bats. After racking up a baker’s dozen of runs on ten hits on Friday, the Buckeyes went 3-for-14 with runners on base in this one.
Ohio State now stands 1-4 in Big Ten play, 11-15 overall, while Purdue improved to 2-3 in conference games and 14-12 for the year.
Purdue struck first, taking advantage of a hit by pitch on the first offering of the game by Feltner to plate a run. The pitch hit Evan Warden, who would advance to second on a sacrifice bunt, steal third, and score on a groundout by Nick Dalesandro.
The Boilermakers weren’t done exorcising some demons from Friday night’s drubbing, putting up another three runs in the second. Bryce Bonner led off with a double and was immediately bunted over to third. He scored on a single by Mike Madej, who would himself come around on a triple by Alec Olund. Warden capped things off with an RBI groundout, pushing the lead out to 4-0.
Feltner’s troubles continued in the third, as Purdue tacked on one more. Dalesandro led off with a single up the middle just outside the range of Buckeye second baseman Noah West. A pair of wild pitches allowed him to advance to third, where he trotted home on a Jacson McGowan groundout.
Keeping with the theme, the Boilers got the leadoff man aboard in the fourth and it came back to bite Feltner and Ohio State. Madej walked, stole second, and moved over to third on a groundout. Warden then dropped a perfect safety squeeze bunt to bring Madej home, extending the advantage to 6-0.
Meanwhile, Purdue starter Gareth Stroh was cruising through the Buckeyes’ lineup. The left-hander pitched to contact extremely efficiently, allowing just a single run on six hits in 7.2 innings of work. Stroh only struck out two, but walked no one and threw over 63 percent strikes in earning his second win of the season.
After the Boilermakers went without scoring for the first time in the fifth inning, the Buckeyes finally got to Stroh. Brady Cherry singled back up the middle with one out and moved to second on a passed ball. After a Tyler Cowles single, there were runners on the corners for Shea Murray. He lashed a double down the left field line, scoring Cherry and giving the scarlet and gray two runners in scoring position.
But Stroh buckled down, getting West to send a shallow fly ball to right and Tre’ Gantt to foul out to third to end the threat.
Ohio State got 2.1 innings of scoreless relief out of Austin Woodby, and managed to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but a comeback simply wasn’t in the cards.
The rubber match of the weekend will be played on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET with the winner getting its first series win of the Big Ten season. Buckeye Vision will have the game available for live streaming.