Ohio State baseball finds itself in need of two straight victories if it hopes to pull out a Big Ten series win after losing the opener of its three-game weekend set with Michigan State by a score of 2-0. The Buckeyes are now 3-7 in conference play.
Not to sound like a broken record, but Ohio State had trouble generating offense. The club was 0-for-8 at the plate with runners in scoring position, and managed just four hits, marring what was a well-pitched game by the scarlet and gray’s hurlers.
Taking another step forward in what has been a rough season was Buckeyes’ pitcher Yianni Pavlopoulos. Starting for the second straight weekend due to injuries and his own struggles as the team’s closer, the redshirt junior turned in a quality start, allowing just two runs on five hits in five innings of work. Though he took the loss, Pavlopoulos kept the team in the game and made a case to remain in the starting rotation.
Kyle Michalik, Joe Stoll, and Curtiss Irving combined for three innings of solid relief, allowing a total of just two baserunners.
Ohio State had early chances against Spartans’ starter Alex Troop, but failed to capitalize. Jalen Washington was left on third base after doubling to lead off the game in the first, and both he and Noah West were left in scoring position in the third. Not cashing in on these opportunities against a quality ballclub on the road has plagued the Buckeyes all season long.
And as has often been the case, Ohio State’s opponent took advantage. Michigan State scored a run in the bottom of the third against Pavlopoulos, who had retired the first six hitters he faced. It started with a leadoff double by Royce Ando, who moved to third on a sacrifice fly. But Ando would be thrown out trying to score on a grounder off the bat of Danny Gleaves.
With two outs and a runner now on first, it appeared Pavlopoulos would be able to pick his team up and get out of the inning unscathed. A triple off the wall in right-center by Bryce Kelley ended that possibility, though, with Gleaves coming around to score the game’s first run.
From that point, the Buckeyes would barely touch Troop, whose already minuscule, conference-best earned run average dwindled further, ending at 1.50 when the southpaw departed the game. In all, Troop tossed six scoreless innings, yielding just three hits while walking four and striking out seven.
In the fourth, the Spartans tacked on one more, and once again it was thanks to two-out hitting. Matt Byars led off the inning with a double, but after a lineout and a shallow flyout, Pavlopoulos was on the verge of working out of the jam. Ando then stepped to the plate and ripped his second double of the game, this one over left fielder Noah McGowan’s head, and Byars crossed the dish for a 2-0 advantage.
Right-hander Jake Lowery and lefty Joe Mockbee threw three scoreless innings in relief of Troop for Michigan State, despite allowing baserunners into scoring position in both the seventh and eighth. Much as in the game’s early going, Ohio State was unable to cash in, and a great chance for a Big Ten road win slipped by.
The two sides will play game two of the series on Saturday at McLane Stadium in East Lansing. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be available for live streaming on BTN Plus.