In a drastic role reversal, the Ohio State baseball team found itself on the right side of a late comeback on Saturday afternoon, using a four-run ninth inning to claim a 5-2 victory over Penn State on the road in State College.
Bo Coolen hit a game-tying home run and Brady Cherry delivered a go-ahead two-run triple to spark the rally against Nittany Lions’ reliever Eric Mock.
The comeback spoiled what had been an excellent performance by Penn State starter Justin Hagenman. The Nittany Lions’ sophomore right-hander finished with a line of one run while scattering ten hits in eight innings, walking two and striking out seven.
The Buckeyes may never have been in a position to win were it not for their own hurlers grinding things out.
True to form as he’s been for much of the season, redshirt senior righty Jake Post gave the Buckeyes a start on the mound that kept them in position to win the ballgame. Post went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking four and striking out five.
Following Post, redshirt senior lefty Joe Stoll and redshirt junior righty Kyle Michalik gave Ohio State three quality innings of relief, keeping the squad within striking distance. That would pay off in the top of the ninth, when Hagenman finally exited the game.
Closer Seth Kinker worked a scoreless ninth to secure his fourth save of the season.
Whereas Ohio State couldn’t come up with hits with runners in scoring position in Saturday’s loss, going 0-for-6 in those situations, the team broke through early against Hagenman. A double down the left field line by Jacob Barnwell and a single by Zach Ratcliff, both with two down in the top of the second, staked the Buckeyes to a 1-0 lead.
The lead would be short-lived, though, as Penn State got to Post in the the bottom of the third. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out, and a wild pitch tied the game. A sacrifice fly Braxton Giavedoni then plated Nick Riotto with the go-ahead run.
Things could have been much worse, with Post losing his command and walking two more batters to reload the bases. But a fly ball to the left-center gap off the bat of Alex Malinsky was run down by Tre Gantt to end the threat.
Ohio State narrowly avoided more trouble in the bottom of the fifth thanks to solid defense. Post issued a two-out walk to Christian Helsel and gave up a shot off the wall in right field to Ryan Sloniger. As Sloniger rounded first, Dominic Canzone barehanded the ricochet and fired a strike to second, nailing the runner and ending the inning before any damage could be done.
The Buckeyes threatened Hagenman several times throughout the middle innings, but came away empty. They had a runner on third base in the fourth, two runners in scoring position in the fifth, the bases loaded in the seventh, and another runner on second in the eighth, but couldn’t get the clutch hit they needed.
That would change with Coolen and Cherry’s shots in the ninth, topped off by a Noah McGowan sacrifice fly, as the Buckeyes reeled off the four runs to grab the lead and never looked back.
Game two of Sunday’s doubleheader is slated to start at 3:00 p.m. ET. Live streaming of the action will be available on BTN2Go.