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Ohio State baseball shows ‘competitive toughness’ in win against Illinois

Lantern file photo

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The Ohio State baseball team won its rubber match with Illinois, 7-3, after splitting the first two games of the weekend series.
OSU wore camouflage uniforms for Sunday’s game to pay tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. They were originally going to wear them for Tuesday night’s game against Akron, but the game was rained out.
A bombing took place at the Boston Marathon April 15, which led to three deaths and more than 180 injuries. One suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed and the other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured over the weekend.
The Fighting Illini struck first in the top half of the first inning with two RBI singles by redshirt junior left fielder Jordan Parr and senior third baseman Brandon Hohl, giving them an early 2-0 lead.
OSU responded with a big inning in the bottom of the second, when it added six runs of its own including a three-run home run by redshirt senior second baseman Ryan Cypret.
The three-run shot was Cypret’s third home run of the season.
“We stayed confident,” Cypret said. “High fastball first pitch, then just a low curveball that somehow the stars aligned and I hit it out.”
In the following inning, Illinois was able to get one run back on an RBI single by senior center fielder Justin Parr, trimming the Buckeyes’ lead to 6-3.
The Buckeyes knocked freshman pitcher Ryan Castellanos out of the game in the bottom of the fifth when freshman third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic hit a one-out RBI double, making the score 7-3.
Senior right-hander Brett McKinney replaced senior pitcher Brian King in the top of the seventh with two outs. King allowed three runs and eight hits in 6.2 innings.
In the top of the ninth, the Buckeyes brought sophomore closer Trace Dempsey into the game in a non-save situation to get some work. Dempsey retired the Illini in order and ended the game with a strikeout to give OSU its 25th win, 7-3.
The Buckeyes improve to 25-13 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play. Illinois falls to 24-12 on the year and 6-6 in conference competition.
King was the winning pitcher and improved his record to 6-4 with a 2.50 ERA. Castellanos took the loss and falls to 2-1 with a 5.20 ERA.
Although King struggled in the first inning, when the Buckeyes were able to give him a comfortable lead, he knew he was going to be able to settle in.
“I could put my fastball where I wanted it,” King said. “They picked me up so I knew I needed to pick them up for the rest of the game.”
OSU coach Greg Beals was pleased with the way the Buckeyes have played the last two games, and even happier that they have won two Big Ten series in a row.
“We’ve done it two weekends in a row,” Beals said. “This should be a learning experience for them and learning how to win and what it takes to win games. It really speaks a lot in terms of their competitive toughness.”
The Buckeyes don’t play again until Friday, when they are set to open a weekend series with Penn State at Bill Davis Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.  

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