The Ohio State baseball team (13-15, 3-4 Big Ten) took conference-leading Michigan State (22-8, 6-1 Big Ten) all nine innings and then some, but a lead-off home run in the top of the 10th was the decider as the Spartans beat OSU, 5-4.
Even after the home run, OSU did not go down without a fight, as it had a chance to tie or win the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th.
After singles by senior and freshman outfielders Brian DeLucia and Tim Wetzel, freshman first baseman Josh Dezse was intentionally walked. Two consecutive strikeouts by sophomore catcher Greg Solomon and junior DH Brad Hutton ended the game.
Coach Greg Beals said OSU left too many opportunities on base.
“The story was our inability to execute when we had guys in scoring position,” he said. “Our hitters could have done a better job, obviously, but you have to give their pitchers credit.”
OSU looked in trouble after a three-run seventh put the Spartans up, 4-2, but Dezse responded in the eighth with a two-run home run. Dezse said he thought the home run was a turning point in the game but that his team came up just a little bit short.
“We fought as a team, we lost as a team and we are going to come back tomorrow and fight back,” Dezse said.
Relief pitcher Tony Wieber (4-0) picked up the win for MSU, and senior pitcher Jared Strayer (1-2) picked up his second loss on the season.
Rucinski versus Wunderlich
The game featured top starting pitchers for each team, and both went deep into the game. Michigan State’s Kurt Wunderlich went eight innings and gave up four runs while OSU senior pitcher Drew Rucinski went seven and a third, and also gave up four runs. It was a pitcher’s duel early before Rucinski gave up three in the seventh followed up by Wunderlich giving up a two-run home run to Dezse in the eighth. Both pitchers earned a no decision.
A 1-2 punch
OSU’s one and two hitters, DeLucia and Wetzel, had a combined six hits and three runs. Wetzel now has a nine-game hitting streak and has been hitting .395 since the Big Ten season started.
“We got a lot of young guys that can come through,” DeLucia said. “Wetzel and Dezse are both just incredible.”
The second of the three-game series will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday. OSU will be looking to rebound from the loss and come back strong.
“We are obviously going to take our emotion out on the field tomorrow,” Dezse said. “We still have two more games this weekend and we still have a chance to get that two out of three like we want.”