The matchup that Buckeye fans had been waiting three days for finally happened Sunday. After the first two games of the series against Michigan (14-12) got postponed on Friday and Saturday, the rivals played a doubleheader Sunday, with each team walking away with a win.
Playing in front of a standing-room only crowd, Ohio State (19-8) gave its fan a show right off the bat. Junior Allison Smith, who has been having a tremendous season thus far, once again shined. She struck out three batters and hit one in the first, starting off strong. Then, the offense supported her by getting on the board first by way of a Kami Kortokrax RBI single.
Smith gave up a solo home run in the third inning to tie, and it would remain this way through the seventh inning, sending the game into extras. The Buckeyes had a chance to walk it off in the eighth as catcher Sam Hackenbracht singled to start off the inning, then her pinch runner advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. However, the offense could not get her across, so more softball was to be played!
A Kortokrax single was all that happened in the ninth, and then the Wolverines scored in the tenth. Following two singles, another single assisted with an error resulted in Michigan plating two runs and taking the lead. In the bottom of the inning, once again the Bucks could only get one single on the board, so the Wolverines took game one.
Smith, however, was absolutely brilliant, pitching the entire 10 innings. She surrendered nine hits, three runs and zero walks while striking out 10. She is now 9-4 on the season with a 2.07 ERA.
The second game was a totally different story, as this game was over in half of the amount of innings as the first. This time, junior Emily Ruck got the start and she also was outstanding. The real story in this game was the offensive explosion that came from the Buckeyes’ bats.
The first run scored came by a Meggie Otte single down the left field line with two outs and bases loaded. Hackenbracht simply unloaded the bases with a three-run moonshot over the left field wall to put Ohio State up 4-0 in the first inning.
The only time Ruck got a bit roughed up came in the third inning, where she gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead in half. However, they tacked on two more in the bottom of the inning with left fielder Jaycee Ruberti reaching on a fielding error which scored a run, and freshman catcher Hannah Church continuing to tear it up with a RBI single.
The fourth inning came with five runs from the Bucks and zero from the Wolverines. The team hit for the cycle in this inning, with McKenzie Bump doubling to knock in a run, Otte hitting a two-run home run, Hackenbracht singling up the middle and second baseman Kaitlyn Farley with a two-run triple to increase their lead to 11-2.
Ruck got three quick outs in the top of the fifth and that was all that was needed for the mercy rule to kick in. She finished the five innings with six hits and two runs given up, while striking out two. Her ERA is now 2.56 and she is 5-4 on the season. Seven different players recorded a hit. Otte, Hackenbracht and Farley each went 2-for-3.
So, what a great Sunday for the Bucks! The rubber match takes place today at 4 p.m. and is on BTN+. Tune in if you can, or if not, follow along on Twitter @OhioStateSB. It’s going to be a good one!