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Ohio State baseball rallies to undefeated start in 4-game Florida series

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Then-sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson awaits a pitch. Credit: Lantern file photo

Then-sophomore outfielder Ronnie Dawson awaits a pitch.
Credit: Lantern file photo

The Ohio State baseball team opened the 2016 season with a bang.

Over the course of the four-game weekend, OSU hammered six home runs, pounded out 38 hits and maintained an unbeaten 3-0-1 record in Vero Beach, Florida’s, Dodgertown Classic.

Several Buckeyes had outstanding weekends, but none more than redshirt junior Jacob Bosiokovic. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound right fielder finished the weekend with a .412 batting average after going 7-for-17, including three home runs and eight RBIs. Senior captain Nick Sergakis also finished with a .412 average, and senior second baseman L Grant Davis batted a clean .400.

Game 1 versus Toledo

In the opening game, the Buckeyes were led by their workhorse pitcher, Tanner Tully, who retired 24 of the 25 batters he faced over six scoreless innings as they defeated Toledo 7-1.

“It was just what the doctor ordered to have a first start like that,” OSU coach Greg Beals said in a press release. “Give the Toledo hitters credit. I thought they took some good swings and hit him at times. He wasn’t his sharpest, but six scoreless innings is pretty darn good.”

OSU’s offense was powered by the long ball against the Rockets, as it crushed three home runs during the game. Bosiokovic went 3-for-5, with a solo home run in his first at-bat of the year which gave the Buckeyes the early lead.

Junior catcher and team captain Jalen Washington also crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to push OSU’s lead to 5-0. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, junior center fielder Troy Montgomery hit a two-run homer to right, pushing OSU’s lead to an insurmountable 7-0. Toledo would tack on a late homer in the top of the eighth to mark the final score of 7-1.

Beals said it was great for his team to step up and play clean baseball in the first game of the season, as it has been a long road coming for some of his guys.

“Both Jacob and Jalen took advantage of their opportunity today,” Beals said. “Jalen has been working his tail off for three years and got the nod. It was great to see him get off to a good start. For Bosiokovic, he struggled and dealt with some injury in the past, and hopefully today will allow him to relax a little bit and have a great season for us.”

Game 2 versus Niagara

To start Saturday’s doubleheader of the Dodgertown Classic trip, the Buckeye bats continued to carry the momentum, especially Bosiokovic. The Delaware, Ohio, native went 2-for-5, including a two-run homer and a walk-off three-run shot to seal a 10-8 comeback victory for the Buckeyes.

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Adam Niemeyer started off hot for OSU, allowing only one run over the first four innings. But then the wheels started to fall off for the Minster, Ohio, native, as he allowed four runs in the fifth. He was pulled that inning, giving way to sophomore reliever Seth Kinker, who stopped the bleeding for OSU.

That bandage didn’t stay on for long though, as Kinker allowed two more runs in the top sixth inning, pinning OSU to a 7-4 deficit. The Scarlet and Gray showed resiliency, however, as Washington scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore designated hitter Jordan McDonough.

Kinker would settle down, pitching a scoreless seventh, and Bosiokovic correspondingly hit a two-run home run off the left-center scoreboard tying the game. Kinker pitched a scoreless eighth, then redshirt sophomore Yianni Pavlopoulos made his season debut in the ninth, blanking the Purple Eagles and setting the stage for Bosiokovic.

OSU quickly got runners on base in the ninth after senior shortstop Craig Nennig walked and advanced to second on a throwing error. Montgomery was then intentionally walked, bringing up No. 17. Bosiokovic crushed a 2-2 pitch off the foul pole in left field to give the Buckeyes their second victory in as many games.

Game 3 versus Pittsburgh

In the second half of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Buckeyes faced the Pittsburgh Panthers. The game would turn out to be a marathon, as the two teams battled 13 innings before OSU won the game 11-8 after a three-run 13th.

Montgomery continued his hot start, as the Fortville, Indiana, native went 3-for-6 on the evening, including his second home run and three RBIs. Senior John Havird pitched 5.2 innings for the Buckeyes as the Game 3 starter for OSU, allowing five runs while striking out six Panthers batters.

With Pittsburgh up 6-5 heading into the top of the ninth, OSU rallied for the second time that day, scoring three runs to take the 8-6 lead. The lead wouldn’t last, however, as it evaporated after giving up two more runs to send the game into extra innings.

No runs were scored in the 10th, 11th or 12th innings as both teams held their ground. The Buckeyes broke through in the 13th with three runs to push their lead to 11-8. Nennig, Davis and Montgomery all scored to provide the insurance runs for the Scarlet and Gray. Freshman relief pitcher Connor Curlis came in to start the 12th inning and remained in for the 13th to finish off the Panthers and pick up the two-inning win in his collegiate debut.

Game 4 versus Toledo

As the final game in Vero Beach got underway, the Buckeyes’ red-hot bats continued to bring home the runs. Junior left fielder Ronnie Dawson hit a double to bring home Montgomery and Bosiokovic in the top of the first inning. Dawson would later score on a sacrifice fly by freshman third baseman Brady Cherry to give OSU the early 3-0 lead.

The lead quickly dissolved, however, as freshman starting pitcher Ryan Feltner gave up four runs over the first three innings, leaving the Buckeyes down 4-3. Feltner was pulled in the fifth for senior lefty Daulton Mosbarger. Over the next three innings of scoreless ball, Mosbarger struck out six, allowing just one walk and three hits.

OSU tied the game in the eighth when Dawson scored on another sac fly, this time off the bat of junior first baseman Zach Ratcliff. But in the bottom of the same inning, Toledo would tack-on a go-ahead run on a fielding error, putting them in position for the win.

The Buckeyes once again turned to the bat of Bosiokovic, who provided the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly to score Davis.

The game ended in a 5-5 draw, marking the first time since 2002 that the Buckeyes tied a game.

The Buckeyes will next look ahead to the Coastal Carolina Tournament from Feb. 26 to 29. OSU is scheduled to play Duke, Coastal Carolina (twice, Games 2 and 4) and Liberty in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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