Potential has never been a question for Ryan Feltner. The 6-foot-4 right hander’s stuff is legit, with a fastball that clocks in the mid-90s and a breaking ball that has tremendous bite.
The questions that have surrounded Feltner since he arrived at Ohio State have instead centered on command, execution, and consistency. Despite his electric arm, the junior has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen, and has a career earned run average north of five.
But on Thursday at Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park with the Buckeyes’ season hanging in the balance, Feltner harnessed all of that potential and pitched a gem. In six scoreless innings of work, the Walsh Jesuit High School product scattered just three hits while walking three and striking out six to earn the victory.
Relief ace Seth Kinker worked the final three innings to notch the save, his 14th of the year and the 23rd of his career.
Ohio State will now take on the loser of this evening’s Purdue-Michigan matchup in an elimination game on Friday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET.
Kobie Foppe was the star at the plate for the Buckeyes, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a run batted in. Tyler Cowles made an impact on the game as well, driving in a run for the second consecutive day, and Noah McGowan and Bo Coolen each added a pair of hits.
Hawkeyes starter Cole McDonald labored through just 4.1 innings, yielding two runs on seven hits, with a walk and four strikeouts. McDonald’s pitch count was already in the upper 70s when Iowa head coach Rick Heller went to his bullpen. Relievers Nick Nelsen, Grant Judkins, and Grant Leonard kept the Hawkeyes in the game, combining to keep the scarlet and gray silent for the final 4.2 innings.
As was the case in Wednesday’s game, Ohio State grabbed the lead immediately in the top of the first, and once again it was Cowles delivering. With Foppe on first, he launched one into the gap in left center, bringing around the day’s first run.
Things stayed quiet on both sides until the fifth inning. Dominic Canzone, who had a collision at first base with Purdue’s pitcher yesterday, smacked a single with one out and limped down to first base. Matt Carpenter had to come on to pinch run for the second-team All-Big Ten performer.
Carpenter abruptly stole second and advanced to third when the throw skipped into the outfield. He would come in to score on a Foppe single to right field, giving Ohio State a 2-0 lead, an advantage that would stand up the rest of the way.
That ended McDonald’s day, receiving a hard luck loss on a day when his club’s bats just couldn’t get much going.
Feltner ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, yielding a walk and mishandling a bunt attempt to give the Hawkeyes two on with nobody out. Buckeye head coach Greg Beals went to the bullpen at that point, summoning Kinker to work out of the jam. The senior righty did just that, getting a strikeout and a double play grounder to preserve the lead.
Kinker worked around a leadoff single to retire the side in the eighth before setting Iowa down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Less than 24 hours after its NCAA tournament hopes appeared to take a hit, Ohio State bounced right back. Now the Buckeyes are moving forward, alive for at least one more day.