After dropping the first game of its three-game series against Northwestern to start out Big Ten play on Friday, the Ohio State baseball team bounced back to grab the final two games and take the series. It took some dramatics in Sunday’s matchup to win it, but regardless, OSU improved to 6-1 on its homestand and 14-7-1 overall.
With the Big Ten opening series on the line in the bottom of the ninth inning, redshirt junior right fielder Jacob Bosiokovic hit a towering two-run walk-off home run to give OSU a 5-4 victory in the rubber match against Northwestern.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the second inning when redshirt junior left fielder R.J. Watters, a Columbus native, hit a single to left, scoring third baseman Connor Lind. They would add two runs to their lead when senior first baseman Zach Jones grounded out to first and OSU senior first baseman Troy Kuhn overthrew the second-base bag trying to turn a double play.
But the Buckeyes would not be held scoreless for long, as junior center fielder Troy Montgomery belted a home run to center field in the bottom of the third. OSU senior third baseman Nick Sergakis later hit a solo homer to left field to trim the Wildcats’ lead down to just one.
After each team scored a run in the eight inning, the Buckeyes were down 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth. The first two batters of the inning were set down before Montgomery reached base on a two-out walk. Then on a 2-1 count, Bosiokovic sent the Buckeyes home victorious with his two-run shot over the left field wall.
“I was trying to barrel up the pitch,” Bosiokovic said. “I think it was a changeup or a two-seam, something running in, so I was really just trying to put the barrel on the ball, and luckily it took off like that.”
Prior to the series against Northwestern, Bosiokovic had missed the previous 10 games due to a nagging hamstring injury. OSU coach Greg Beals said he likes how strong the lineup looks now that Bosiokovic is able to stay in and bat second for his club.
“It just means so much,” Beals said. “I mean, the dynamic of the top of that order is ridiculous. With the ability to run and hit that all three of those guys have, one through three, and then to have a senior that is hitting like Sergakis, that is cleaning up everything in that four hole. That is a very formidable four men in the top of that lineup.”
Senior left-handed pitcher John Havird once again provided solid pitching for the Buckeyes, tossing six innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts. In spite of his performance, the starter was unable to get credit for the win in this one.
Bosiokovic praised Havird for his performance not only Sunday, but throughout the whole season.
“He’s pitched well all year,” Bosiokovic said. “Some days you might not always get the hits for him or make the plays behind him.”
Despite the slow start, the Buckeyes were able to battle back and come away with the win. For the seventh time this season, OSU found itself in a hole early and had to find a way to battle its way back and win the ball game.
“We’re fighters,” Sergakis said.
Added Bosiokovic: “We’re never out of the game. Never ever out of the game.”
The Buckeyes did not require much of a comeback to get the win on Saturday against the Wildcats. The home team got its bats going early and came away with the 5-2 victory, its 2,500th all-time win.
The Buckeyes allowed some scoring early, as Northwestern scored a run in the top of the first inning off a single by pitcher Matt Hopfner. Yet OSU would answer with a run scoring off an errant throw by the first baseman in a pickoff attempt.
From that point on, this game was all Buckeyes. Senior shortstop Craig Nennig and Montgomery each contributed RBI hits in the second inning and redshirt sophomore right-hander Adam Niemeyer provided the Buckeyes with a strong pitching performance.
Niemeyer threw seven innings, surrendering two runs (both earned) on nine hits, walking none and tying a career high with eight strikeouts.
Part of what made Niemeyer so successful on Saturday was the adjustments he made after the third inning.
“(Pitching coach Mike Stafford and I) made an adjustment because they were hunting fastballs early in the count, like first-pitch, second-pitch fastballs,” Niemeyer said. “So we started mixing it up a little more toward the end of the game, starting hitters off with changeups and sliders. I think that really made the difference because they were so aggressive early in the count, early in the game.”
The next game for OSU is scheduled to come against Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The first pitch set to be thrown out at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The starter for OSU in that game is slated to be freshman right-hander Ryan Feltner.