With Big Ten play looming, the Ohio State baseball team appears to be starting to play their best ball of the season.
Playing under a gray sky for most of the evening, the Buckeyes (13-6, 0-0) came out shining and rolled to their fifth-straight victory, defeating Xavier, 10-3, Wednesday.
The game featured two freshman starting pitchers on the bump with the Musketeers’ (11-7, 0-0) Trent Astle going against the Buckeyes’ Tanner Tully.
Tully, starting his first collegiate game, began with a commanding five-pitch first inning. Astle wasn’t so lucky.
Sophomore infielder Troy Kuhn was batting first for the Buckeyes and, on the second pitch he saw, smacked a homerun over the left field wall. The shot was Kuhn’s fourth of the year, good enough to lead the team.
“I’m seeing the ball real well,” Kuhn said. “I keep getting good pitches to hit … taking advantage of other teams mistakes.”
With runners on second and third and still no outs, freshman outfielder Ronnie Dawson had an RBI groundout and sophomore infielder Zach Ratcliff followed with an RBI single to give the Buckeyes a quick 3-0 lead.
Astle found himself in another jam to begin the second. With the bases loaded and nobody out, sophomore infielder Jacob Bosiokovic hit a sac fly to deep center that plated two. Junior outfielder Pat Porter followed with a sac fly of his own to score another and give Tully a six-run lead to work with.
The freshman responded, going five innings with five hits on no runs scored. When Tully had Musketeers in scoring position, he turned up the heat to keep them at bay.
“It was good just to go in there and throw strikes and keep the defense in it,” Tully said. “I throw a little bit harder, hit my spots a little bit more (with runners in scoring position) and make sure they don’t score.”
Coach Greg Beals was impressed enough with Tully’s first start to say he would probably be the Sunday starter this weekend.
“There was no question in my mind he was capable of starting and capable of doing what he did,” Beals said. “To put five zeros up like that, though, was sure good to see … in our meeting tomorrow there’s a pretty good chance we decide Tanner Tully is our Sunday starter this weekend.”
The Musketeers scored one in the sixth and two more in eighth to give them a chance, but the offense rose to the occasion and responded with four runs of their own in the eighth.
Redshirt-senior reliever Tyler Giannonatti recorded the final four outs to give him his first save of the season and keep the Buckeyes perfect at home so far.
The win streak has been an enjoyable one for the Buckeyes, but they know it isn’t time to get complacent.
“We’re pretty happy (with where we are), but this is where our mission starts,” Kuhn said. “We want to come out hot.”
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to Friday when the Michigan State Spartans come to town. First pitch at Bill Davis Stadium is set for 6:05 p.m.