On a frigid sub-40 degree night in Columbus, the bats of the Ohio State baseball team came out a bit cold and could not heat up when it mattered most.
In the Big Ten opener for both teams, Northwestern (6-16, 1-0) outlasted the Buckeyes (12-7-1, 0-1) with two runs in the top of the ninth to hold on for a 6-5 victory at Bill Davis Stadium.
For the second straight game, the Buckeyes fell behind the opposing team 4-0 before they were able to score a run.
OSU was held scoreless by the Wildcats until the sixth inning when senior third baseman Nick Sergakis blasted a two-run home run to left field, driving in redshirt junior Jacob Bosiokovic. In the eighth inning, Sergakis drove in Dawson on a single to right field before later being driven in himself by a bases-loaded walk to sophomore Tre’ Gantt.
“We had quality at-bats in the first five innings or so, but it’s about stringing those together,” Sergakis said. “When we have started off hot, we’ve been real good. We put up runs and it’s a momentum thing. It’s hard to get yourself going when you’re going up there and you’re getting your second at-bat in the fourth inning.”
The issues on offense do not just stem from a lack of offense early. On Friday, the offense saw all five runs and six of the team’s seven hits coming from the top five hitters in the lineup. Sergakis said he knows that in order for his team to take the next step, it needs to get contributions from up and down the lineup.
“It’s harder when two hits has to score a run,” Sergakis said. “We need to be able to go up there and we need one through nine to come in and just all take quality at-bats, hit the ball hard, and try to do whatever they can to get on base, because that’s when everything turns around.”
Junior starting pitcher Tanner Tully was not off to his usual self to begin the game. After beginning his three-year career at OSU having only issued 26 walks in 198.0 innings and only four all season, Tully matched his season total and issued a career-high four free passes. OSU coach Greg Beals embellished on Tully’s struggles after the game.
“Tanner was up in the zone, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the catcher,” Beals said. “Tanner, especially the last inning, he put a zero up in the last inning, but he was up in the zone quite a bit and that’s what kind of led us to making the switch with him . . . His elbow was under the ball, pushing the ball uphill a bit.”
While Bosiokovic returned to the lineup for the first time in 10 days after dealing with a hamstring injury, the Buckeyes might have lost another key player to their team. In the ninth inning, redshirt sophomore closer Yianni Pavlopoulos was struck in the leg by a line drive to the first batter he faced. Beals said that while the injury could limit his playing time in the next few days, he hopes he should be back soon.
“Yianni got hit in the calf,” Beals said. “It’s muscular. I imagine it will be sore for a couple of days, but it shouldn’t be long term.”
The next game for the Buckeyes is scheduled to begin at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday at Bill Davis Stadium. That contest is the second in a three-game series against Northwestern. Redshirt sophomore Adam Niemeyer is lined up to start for the Buckeyes.