Ohio State baseball was poised to break out of its offensive funk at some point, and chose Sunday’s series finale with Michigan State to be the day. The Buckeyes racked up 21 hits in a 13-8 win over the Spartans, avoiding a weekend sweep. The team actually outscored the high-powered MSU attack 18-14 in the three games.
The scarlet and gray now stand 15-21 for the season and 4-8 in Big Ten play.
The quality of at-bats Ohio State put together the last two games was markedly better than what the club had shown over the past week. Buckeye hitters were much more aggressive right out of the chute.
Jalen Washington led off the game with a home run, part of a solid day at the plate. He went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs.
Dominic Canzone continued his recent tear, going 4-for-6 with three RBIs, and Brady Cherry had a 3-for-6 day with a home run and a pair driven in.
Tre’ Gantt, Connor Pohl, Jacob Barnwell, and Andrew Fishel also had multi-hit efforts, while Bo Coolen reached base three times himself.
As nice as the offensive explosion was, the performance of starting pitcher Reece Calvert was even bigger for the club. The junior Texan tossed 5.1 innings, being charged with four runs on just two hits and two walks, striking out three. More importantly, Calvert threw first-pitch strikes to all 20 batters he faced.
After sending a ball out of the yard in the ninth inning of Saturday’s ballgame, Washington led off this one in the same way. The Ohio State co-captain hit a 2-2 pitch off Michigan State starter Andrew Gonzalez out to deep left-center for the quick lead.
Also just as in Saturday’s ninth inning, Gantt followed Washington’s home run with a double. Unlike yesterday, the Buckeyes brought him home. After a throwing error by Spartans’ shortstop Royce Ando allowed Gantt to advance to third, an RBI groundout by Coolen made it a 2-0 lead.
The lead would be short-lived, though, as Michigan State came right back in the bottom half of the first against Calvert. After an Ando walk with one out, Dan Durkin sent a two-run crush job out to right to even the score.
Washington would help Ohio State reclaim the lead for good in the top of the second, driving in Pohl with a single to make it a 3-2 game.
Gonzalez would be knocked out of the game in the third. Canzone tripled lead to things off and Coolen walked. But Canzone got himself caught in a rundown on a ball off the bat of Barnwell. The freshman stayed alive long enough for Coolen to advance to third and Barnwell to make it to second before being tagged out.
But the Buckeyes were unable to cash in on the scoring opportunity. Reliever Mitchell Tyranski struck out Pohl and Shea Murray was robbed of a hit at the wall in right to escape the threat.
Ohio State kept the pressure on, though, in a departure from recent games. With two outs in the fourth, Gantt collected his second hit on a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield. He came around to score on a double down the left field line by Cherry. Canzone followed that with a double of his own to score Cherry and push the lead out to 5-2.
A walk to Coolen ended Tyranski’s day, and Nathan Witt came out of the bullpen to retire Barnwell and strand two more Buckeye baserunners.
Meanwhile, Calvert really settled in. After the first inning homer, the big righty set down 18 straight Spartans and put four zeroes on the scoreboard.
In the fifth, the Ohio State onslaught continued, blowing the game wide open. Pohl picked up his second hit of the afternoon with a single to center to lead things off against Witt and Murray followed with his first career home run, tacking two more runs onto the lead.
An infield single by Fishel and a third hit of the day for Gantt followed that, and Canzone delivered a two-run opposite-field single to blow things wide open at 9-2. The freshman then stole second and scored the 10th Buckeye run of the day on a Coolen single, and after a balk sent Coolen to second, Barnwell delivered an RBI base-hit, making it an 11-2 ballgame and ending Witt’s outing.
Michigan State finally got a baserunner against Calvert with one out in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a double by Bryce Kelley. Ando worked his second free pass of the game, and Ohio State went to the bullpen. Sophomore lefty Connor Curlis relieved, and was rudely greeted by Durkin, who hit his second longball of the day. The three-run shot cut the lead to 11-5.
The Spartans chipped away at the lead a little more in the bottom of the seventh, with a two-out double and single against Kyle Michalik to cut the deficit to five.
Murray got that run back in the top of the eighth, walking to lead the inning off and eventually scoring when Michigan State reliever Jake Lowery threw away a pickoff attempt.
Buckeye closer Seth Kinker was brought into the game in the seventh. In the eighth, he walked a pair and yielded RBI singles to Marty Bechina and Dan Chielewski to make it a 12-8 game.
Cherry topped off the scoring with a solo home run leading off the top of the ninth, his fourth of the season. Kinker sealed the victory in the bottom of the frame.
The scarlet and gray will now return home to host a midweek game with Northern Kentucky on Wednesday night before a tough three-game nonconference weekend set at Bill Davis Stadium with UNC-Greensboro opens on Friday.