The record won’t stop skipping and the games just won’t stop slipping for Ohio State baseball. Low quality at-bats, baserunning mistakes, and a lack of execution in the field and on the mound spelled defeat for the Buckeyes once again, this time by a 9-5 score to Iowa.
Despite notching 12 hits and a three-run comeback attempt in the ninth, Ohio State struck out 11 times, went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, left nine runners on base, had a runner picked off, uncorked two wild pitches, balked once, and committed three errors en route to falling to 6-13 in Big Ten play.
What head coach Greg Beals has called “more of the same” has all but sunk any chance the Buckeyes may have had of defending their conference tournament championship. Two games back with six to play entering Friday, the scarlet and gray essentially needed to win out to have even a glimmer of hope.
Redshirt senior Jake Post was once again a hard luck loser, going four innings and allowing five runs on six hits.
Jacob Barnwell had a nice night, driving in a pair of runs while going 2-for-3 at the plate and hitting his second home run of the season. Jalen Washington added a three-run homer of his own, his sixth on the year.
The Hawkeyes’ Jake Adams, who entered the weekend leading the Big Ten in home runs and tied for the lead in runs batted in, gave the Buckeyes a taste of what the rest of the conference has experienced, going 3-for-4 with a homer, an RBI, and three runs scored.
With nothing to lose, Ohio State went the bold route in scoring first in this one. After a Brady Cherry walk, Bo Coolen smacked a hit-and-run single to put runners on the corners with nobody out in the second inning. Barnwell then pushed a squeeze bunt to the first base side of the pitcher’s mound, allowing Cherry to score. But that was where the boldness ended.
No one-run lead is safe against any lineup with Adams in it, and in the bottom of the third, he took Post deep off the batter’s eye in center field to tie things up.
Iowa would take the lead in the fourth as the mound execution and defensive issues that have plagued the Buckeyes all season reared their ugly heads. After getting two quick outs, Post yielded a single to Ben Norman. He would then advance to second on a wild pitch, Post’s second of the game, and come around to score when Washington let a ground ball roll right under his glove ranging just to his left up the middle.
The lead was extended to 5-1 in the fifth by the Hawkeyes thanks to a Robert Neustrom RBI single that scored Mason McCoy and, after Thomas Waning relieved Post, a balk that allowed Adams to trot home and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Matt Hoeg that brought Neustrom plateward.
In the sixth, Barnwell’s solo home run down the line in right field pulled Ohio State back to within three at 5-2, though the deficit felt larger.
Iowa got that run back in the bottom half of the frame, loading the bases with nobody out against Waning. The redshirt sophomore rolled a double play off the bat of Adams, which scored Mitchell Boe, and got Neustrom to fly out, limiting the damage.
A seventh run for the black and gold came home against Waning when a Hoeg double brought Tyler Cropley around to push the advantage to five. That brought redshirt junior Austin Woodby out of the bullpen, and he got a popup and strikeout to end the inning.
More poor execution allowed Iowa to score in a sixth consecutive inning in the eighth, as an error on Tre’ Gantt put runners on the corners with one out. A Neustrom groundout scored a run, and a Cropley single scored another, making it 9-2 headed to the ninth.
As has often been the case for the Buckeyes late in games, the sense of urgency needed from first pitch finally showed up. The team put two runners on before Washington lifted a homer over the left field wall, but it was too little, too late.
Game two of the three-game set is scheduled to get underway in Iowa City at 3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday. Ohio State will send sophomore Connor Curlis to the mound against Iowa’s Ryan Erickson, with the game being available for live streaming on BTN Plus.