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Ohio State baseball stays hot, defeats Akron Zips 9-4

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Sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson (4) is welcomed in to home plate by junior infielder Troy Kuhn (5) and redshirt-junior infielder Nick Sergakis (21) before scoring an OSU run. The Buckeyes beat in-state opponent, Akron, 9-4, on March 25 at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus. Credit: Ethan Scheck / Lantern photographer

Sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson (4) is welcomed in to home plate by junior infielder Troy Kuhn (5) and redshirt-junior infielder Nick Sergakis (21) before scoring an OSU run. The Buckeyes beat in-state opponent, Akron, 9-4, on March 25 at Bill Davis Stadium.
Credit: Ethan Scheck / Lantern photographer

For Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals, the 2015 season has been five years in the making. After being named the head coach in 2010, Beals said he dedicated the first five years of his career toward forming a balanced program.

“It’s been five years of developing, it’s the idea of recruiting, the idea of talent and having a balanced baseball club,” Beals said.

For the Buckeyes, the five-year plan has been a long process, but it all starts with recruiting, Beals added.

“When you are developing your program you have 35 guys, and only 11.5 scholarships so you can’t just throw out a bunch of scholarships and build it in a year,” he said. “It takes some time to find that depth and find the right type of guys.”

The Buckeyes showed the depth and balance of their team Wednesday night, beating the Akron Zips, 9-4, at Bill Davis Stadium.

Akron started the game off strong by scoring the first two runs in the second inning before the Buckeyes tied the game at 2-2 going into the third.

After two innings of three up, three down baseball, the Buckeyes took control of the game, scoring six runs in the fifth inning.

“In the fifth inning, it’s a situation where we figured out their starter,” Beals said. “It was our third at-bat, the lineup had flipped and it was our third line through. That’s when we figured him out and were able to get some extra base hits.”

After struggling with their bats in the first few innings, the Buckeyes showed their tenacity to get the win as sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson slammed a two-run homer. After struggling throughout the beginning of the season, Dawson said he feels that he’s gaining some of his confidence back.

“I was struggling a little bit, but the coaches have faith in me and talk to me every day,” Dawson said.

Dawson said the issue had come from his mentality, feeling like he wasn’t able to relax and be patient at the plate.

“I just put a lot of pressure on myself. When I didn’t do so well, I got mad, but as I play more people are going to figure out who I am and how to pitch to me so I just have to patient,” Dawson said. “I’m just starting to relax again.”

Along with Dawson, senior outfielder Pat Porter blasted a home run, maintaining his offensive leadership with one double and three RBIs.

But the real standout for the night was junior Zach Ratcliff, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. The first baseman began the season starting for the Buckeyes, but struggled at the plate with a .185 batting average heading into Wednesday’s matchup.

Wednesday was the day to test what Ratcliff could do when given an opportunity, Beals said.

“I thought today was a good matchup for Zach to get in there and get his shot back and he took advantage of it,” Beals said. “I’m happy for him. He got the call tonight and answered the bell.”

Ratcliff was humble to acknowledge his multiple double performance and grateful for the opportunity presented. But the junior said his mentality is to “just keep working.”

Akron was consistent in the batters box, having seven of nine batters with at least one hit on OSU’s junior left-hander, John Havird. The Buckeyes’ starter tossed 84 pitches in 5.2 innings, with nine hits, only allowing one walk, four strikeouts and three earned runs, tallying his third win of the season.

“The depth in our pitching staff is something we take pride in. We have multiple guys, we went two midweek games without any of our starting pitchers,” Beals said.

The Buckeyes will look to maintain their consistency against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J., on Friday at 3:05 p.m., Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

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