In a 58-game regular season, sometimes lineup changes help create a spark for a team.
The Ohio State baseball team tried to do just that for junior pitcher and closer Trace Dempsey, giving him his first start since May 25, 2012, after a somewhat disappointing stretch for the preseason All-American during the last few weeks.
The Buckeyes (17-10, 2-4) got things back on track against Ohio University (5-20, 1-5) Tuesday, winning 11-6 after getting swept by Indiana over the weekend. Coach Greg Beals said it was important for the team to get right back on the field after the series against the Hoosiers when the Buckeyes were outscored 21-7 on their home turf.
“It’s what we needed. We had a tough weekend and we needed to get back in the saddle and play Ohio State baseball. I was really pleased with our offensive approach today,” Beals said.
None of the Bobcats’ nine pitchers — compared to just the four who pitched for OSU — who entered the game could figure out the OSU hitters, as the Buckeyes finished the game with season-highs in both hits (19) and runs. No Ohio pitcher lasted longer than an inning.
The Buckeyes got ahead early with a five-run first inning, which included a two-run RBI double to left field by sophomore infielder Zach Ratcliff. Freshman outfielder Ronnie Dawson helped add another run in the second, sending sophomore infielder Troy Kuhn home with an RBI-single to stretch OSU’s lead to 6-0.
The Bobcats cut OSU’s lead with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning. After retiring the next batter, Dempsey’s day was done, leaving the game with four innings pitched, four hits, two runs and three strikeouts. Beals said he gave Dempsey the start so he could gain some confidence moving ahead in the season.
“I felt like he just needs to get out and pitch, get some more reps and find himself and figure out what he needs to do to be more consistent,” Beals said. “The best way of doing that was to give him an extended period of time on the mound and I didn’t want him to wonder when he was going to pitch.”
Dempsey said after the game he was pleased with his performance, but he still did not have the control he had hoped he would have.
“I felt like I started off pretty well, I got kind of tired there at the end,” Dempsey said. “I started trying to throw a little too hard instead of just relying on my stuff.”
Ratcliff continued his big night with a booming three-run home run in the sixth to bring the score to 10-2.
“He threw it over the plate and I just put a good swing on it,” Ratcliff said after the win. “Lately I’ve been putting work in the cages and working with coach Beals and it’s really starting to show off these past few weeks.”
Ratcliff finished the game with three hits and a career-best five RBIs.
“Zach’s a very talented young man and we just need to get him going,” Beals said. “He’s had some good practices and it was good to see him break out a little bit tonight.”
Redshirt-senior pitcher Tyler Giannonatti came on in relief of Dempsey, pitching three scoreless innings with one hit and one strikeout to record his first win of the season.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to action Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. against Toledo at Bill Davis Stadium.