Ohio State baseball was looking to do something on Wednesday night it had done only once all season, and not since mid-March: win three ballgames in a row. The Buckeyes were unable to put that drought to an end, though, getting drilled 14-4 by Ball State.
The scarlet and gray are now 19-30 on the season with just seven games remaining on the schedule.
Senior pitcher-turned-outfielder Shea Murray was about the only bright spot for Ohio State with by far his best performance at the plate all season, lacing a pair of triples and driving in three runs.
Freshman Jake Vance, who had put together a few solid appearances in a row on the mound, had serious command issues out of the chute for Ohio State. The right-hander walked four batters in the first two innings, and five overall in his 4.1 innings of work. Vance was touched up for five runs in taking the loss.
The bullpen didn’t fare any better, failing to keep the game within reach with nine runs surrendered over the final 4.2 innings.
All of those free passes from Vance led to an early Ball State lead. In the second inning, a single followed by three consecutive walks forced home a run, and a passed ball charged to catcher Andrew Fishel allowed a second to score.
But Vance settled down and escaped the third unscathed, giving his offense a chance to get back in the game. The Buckeye bats did just that. Noah West singled to lead things off and two batters later, Murray tripled to the right-center gap to score him. He would come home on an RBI single by Tyler Cowles to knot the game 2-2.
The tie would be short-lived, though, as the Cardinals grabbed the lead right back on a two-run home run off the bat of Caleb Stayton in the fourth. A Jeff Riedel infield single, stolen base, and wild pitch followed, and he was driven in by Trent Theisen to make it 5-2 and end Vance’s night.
Murray struck again in the home half of the frame to draw Ohio State back to within one run. Connor Pohl doubled and Fishel walked, and the Buckeye center fielder hit his second triple of the game, this time to left-center, scoring both runners.
Ball State got those runs back and more in the sixth against relievers Curtiss Irving and Joe Stoll. Stayton singled home his third RBI of the game, the third consecutive hit off Irving, who was pulled a batter later for Stoll.
Stoll inherited a two-on, one-out situation, and was unable to keep the deficit at just two. Riedel singled to plate the Cardinals’ seventh run and Seth Freed tripled in two more to make it a 9-4 game.
Stayton’s fourth run driven in came on a sacrifice fly off Connor Curlis in the seventh, giving Ball State double digit scoring and extending the lead to six. He would notch one more RBI thanks to an Andrew Magno wild pitch in the top of the ninth that scored Alex Maloney from third.
Gavin Lyon relieved Magno, and as it went for Ohio State’s hurlers on the night, he had a rough time of things. A three-run double by Freed made it a 14-4 beatdown.
After Murray’s fifth inning triple, Cardinals’ pitchers faced just two batters over the minimum as the Buckeyes’ bats went ice cold. With only four games remaining at Bill Davis Stadium, the club has a dismal 7-15 home record.
Ohio State will hit the road for the penultimate Big Ten series of the season this weekend against Iowa. At two games behind the eighth spot in the conference standings, the Buckeyes essentially have to win out the rest of the season to keep any hope of a trip to the Big Ten tournament alive.