The Ohio State baseball team had a tough, rain-soaked weekend in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes were supposed to play a single-game exhibition at Miami (OH) on Wednesday, but the game was cancelled due to persistent lightning with no plans for a makeup. Instead, OSU hit the road to take on Minnesota, where again weather postponed the first game of the series. Game one of the three-game Big Ten bout was scheduled for Friday, but the weather had other plans as the opener was pushed to Saturday.
After winning back-to-back conference series against Michigan and Maryland, Ohio State lost two of three against Iowa in Columbus last weekend, and was looking for a bounce-back performance this weekend against the Golden Gophers. Things would not go as planned, however, as the Buckeyes struggled with yet another conference opponent.
With the game one Friday being rained out, Ohio State was set to play on doubleheader on Saturday. Extra innings would have something else to say about that, as the opening match between the two schools would wind up going 18 innings and lasting five hours and 45 minutes — the longest game for the Buckeyes in the last 15 years. OSU got a decent outing from starter Garrett Burhenn, who lasted 5.2 innings allowing one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts. Andrew Magno pitched seven innings in relief, allowing one run on four hits and eight walks (three intentional) with eight strikeouts.
Down 3-2 in the eighth, Ohio State regained the lead on an RBI single by Dillon Dingler with the bases loaded, followed by a run-scoring wild pitch to put the Buckeyes on top 4-3. A lead-off walk in the ninth inning led to a game-tying run by the Gophers as the game would go to extras. The two teams would remain scoreless over the next eight innings, but it was Minnesota who was able to push one across in the 18th inning to walk it off 5-4. OSU left nine runners on base, while the Gophers left 27 men on.
With game one of the series lasting almost six hours, the doubleheader was moved to Sunday, with the first game beginning at 11 a.m. Seth Lonsway took the mound for Ohio State, but was knocked out after only three innings after walking eight batters, allowing four runs and four hits despite striking out eight. Minnesota starter Sam Thoresen was brilliant, allowed just one earned run on a hit and five walks through six innings. As a staff, the Golden Gophers allowed just three Buckeye hits all game.
The long ball really hurt Ohio State in this one as Minnesota mashed three homers to drive in five runs. The Gophers really got to OSU reliever TJ Brock, scoring seven runs on seven hits off the freshman. Stymied by the opposing pitching staff, the Buckeyes pushed just two runs across thanks to a few errors in the first inning and a Brent Todys sac fly in the sixth as Ohio State was dominated 11-2 in the first game of the doubleheader. Dominic Canzone’s 18-game hit streak — the longest by a Buckeye in 17 years — was snapped as the junior outfielder went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks.
Ohio State would attempt to salvage the series in the second game of the doubleheader, with starter Griffin Smith giving them a fantastic start. The sophomore southpaw put in eight innings of work, allowing three earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. Neither offense was able to get much of anything going, as both teams would record five hits apiece in the low-scoring series finale.
After a solo homer by Minnesota in the first inning, the Buckeyes would answer right away with a two-run double in the second to take a 2-1 lead early. Another solo shot by the Gophers would tie the game at two apiece, and the game would remain knotted up through the next five innings. With Smith still in the game for Ohio State, Minnesota got a two-out bloop double to fall in the bottom of the eighth inning to push across the go-ahead run. The Bucks were unable to answer in the ninth inning, and would fall 3-2 as they could not avoid the sweep in Minneapolis.
Ohio State falls to 24-23 on the season, with a 7-11 record in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are near the bottom of the conference standings — with only Michigan State and Penn State trailing behind — despite being in the top half of the B1G when it comes to overall win percentage including non-conference opponents. The Buckeyes have just two Big Ten series remaining in the regular season, taking on the Nittany Lions at home next weekend with a road series against Purdue the following weekend.
Despite a bad series for the team as a whole, a few OSU players continued some impressive streaks. With a leadoff single in the final game of the Minnesota series, Canzone extended his on-base streak to 43 games. Dingler was able to extend his on-base streak to 23 games, while Connor Pohl pushed his to 15 games. There was more good news for the Bucks this weekend as well, as five players received their degrees from The Ohio State University on Sunday: Brady Cherry, Andrew Fishel, Kobie Foppe, Nate Romans and Thomas Waning.
Ohio State will conclude its 2019 home schedule with a four-game homestand this week, playing one game against Wright State on Wednesday night before beginning a three-game series with Penn State on Friday. Wednesday’s game will be broadcast on BTN, with Sunday’s game against the Nittany Lions functioning as OSU’s Senior Day as the Buckeyes look to finish the last few weeks of the season strong.