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Losses mount for Ohio State baseball as team struggles in B1G play

Ohio State falls to 3-10 in Big Ten play, 13-23 overall

First baseman Zach Dezenzo is on a home run tear for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State Athletics

With no mid-week game this week, let’s hope that the Buckeyes’ baseball team can use the time productively to get back on track. At 36 games into the 2022 baseball season, the Buckeyes have had no trouble building losing streaks, but stringing together a few wins in a row seems to be a great difficulty.

Since we last reported on Ohio State baseball, the Buckeyes have gone just 2-5, beating Marshall for the third time this season, taking one of a three-game series against Michigan, and getting swept at Maryland.

Zach Dezenzo and Kade Kern, projected at the start of the year to be the Bucks’ big hitters, have gotten really productive of late. Dezenzo, in fact, is on a home run tear and now has walloped 12 on the season.

Starting pitching, on the other hand, has been a problem, one that often results in Ohio State falling behind early in many ball games. Six starters (listed at the end of this column) have combined for 33 starts in the 36 games the Bucks have played so far. Their cumulative win-loss record is 3-15. Isaiah Coupet, regarded as the team’s ace, has two of those three victories and sports an ERA of 6.12. With the starters having so much trouble, the relievers are putting in a lot of innings and picking up the relatively rare wins.

The OSU offense has been decent. In fact, the Bucks are outhitting opponents .271 to .266 for the season. So, what’s the problem? Opponents have more runs (262-228), more home runs (45-42), more doubles (68-59) and hit into double plays fewer times (9-22). And, in the field, the Buckeyes have committed far more errors, 67-42.

Here’s a recap of the games over the last couple of weeks.

April 15: Maryland 8, Ohio State 6. This game might well typify the Ohio State season. The Bucks fell behind early, as starting pitcher Nate Haberthier yielded five hits and three runs in the first. OSU then fought to get back into the game and finally took the lead in the top of the eighth. Then, Terrapin Bobby Zmarziak hit a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to give Maryland the win. Reliever Ethan Hammerberg took the loss.

April 16: Maryland 6, Ohio State 5. The second game of the series in College Park followed a similar pattern. Buckeye starter Coupet had a no-hitter going into the bottom of the fifth, when Terrapin bats erupted for four tallies. Some-time starter Wyatt Loncar came on in relief and gave up two runs in the ninth after Ohio State gained the lead in the seventh. Zach Dezenzo was the only Buck with more than one hit, as he went 3-for-5, with a home run.

April 17: Maryland 16, Ohio State 1. Maryland brought the broom to the Sunday matchup and swept the Buckeyes back to Columbus. Starter Jacob Gehring was the first of five Buckeye pitchers who got hit hard. Gehring surrendered five earned runs in his three innings pitched, as the Terps led 7-0 after five and 15-0 after seven. Isn’t there some kind of mercy rule?

April 19: Ohio State 7, Marshall 6. At last. The non-conference, mid-week contest allowed the Buckeyes to break their four-game losing streak. But it wasn’t easy. Once again, opponents jumped on OSU starting pitching, as the Thundering Herd led early 4-0. The Bucks finally took the lead in the eighth, and Hammerberg pitched the ninth to earn his third save of the season. Nate Karaffa got the win for the Buckeyes. The hitting was led, once again, by Dezenzo (2-for-3) and Kern (2-for-4 with an RBI).

April 22: Michigan 9, Ohio State 8 (10 innings). A long Friday night in Ann Arbor, and the Buckeyes dropped a heartbreaker to their arch rivals. With Dezenzo, Kern, and Marcus Ernst all homering, OSU soared to a 5-0 lead early in the game. But they couldn’t hold it. TTUN tied it up in bottom of the ninth and won it in the 10th.

April 23: Michigan 16, Ohio State 13. Despite the score, this game was never as close as it appears. Against Coupet, who started the game for the Bucks, the Wolverines put up six runs in the bottom of the second and another six (three off of Coupet, before he was pulled) in the third. The Buckeyes never caught up, although they scored five runs in the eighth and four in the ninth to make the final score respectable (if you’re not a pitcher). Again, Dezenzo and Kern led the 14-hit attack, but OSU left 10 base runners stranded during the game.

April 24: Ohio State 6, Michigan 5. Tables were turned for the series finale. Ohio State, trailing 5-3 heading into the ninth, rallied for three scores as Mitchell Okuley and Trey Lipsey came through with clutch home runs. T.J. Brock, who entered the game in relief in the eighth, got the win and shut down Michigan in their half of the final inning.

Team Leaders

Batting Average: Marcus Ernst (.360)

RBI: Dezenzo (37)

HRs: Dezenzo (12)

Starting Pitchers:
Isaiah Coupet (9 starts), 2-4, 6.12 ERA
Nate Haberthier (9 starts), 0-3, 6.18 ERA
Wyatt Loncar (7 starts), 1-4, 5.20 ERA
Jacob Gehring (3 starts), 0-2, 5.71 ERA
Gavin Bruni (3 starts), 0-0, 9.35 ERA
Aaron Funk (2 starts), 0-2, 7.36 ERA

Relief Pitchers:
Jake Johnson 2-2, 3.91 ERA
Ethan Hammerberg 2-3, 4.39 ERA
T.J. Brock 1-2, 3.94 ERA
Nate Karaffa 1-1, 8.84 ERA.

Next up: A three-game home series (4/29, 4/30, 5/1) against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.