There’s no place like home.
The Ohio State Buckeyes picked up win No. 24 on the season, defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats 9-0 on Tuesday night to move their home record to a Big Ten-leading 15-2.
OSU (24-12-1) was led by the performance junior left fielder Ronnie Dawson, who went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and a walk. The Buckeyes also saw a strong night by senior third baseman Nick Sergakis, who had a 2-for-3 outing with two RBIs, one walk and two runs.
Redshirt sophomore Austin Woodby (5-1) picked up the win for his 2.0 innings of scoreless work against his former ballclub. The Buckeye bullpen combined for the second team shutout of the season.
OSU broke through with a four-run fourth inning, which was ignited by a leadoff bunt by redshirt junior Jacob Bosiokovic. The recently converted first baseman later came around to score on an infield single by Sergakis for a 1-0 lead.
“Basically that was all luck and no intent,” Sergakis said. “As a hitter you’re not looking to do that, obviously. He threw me, I think a changeup, and I was a little out ahead of it. It just happened to be good placement. That got us going. That’s just a momentum builder in itself because it does the job and kind of breaks the opponents down a little bit.”
After a successful bunt by senior second baseman Troy Kuhn loaded the bases, senior shortstop Craig Nennig hit a sharp grounder to third base. The throw home from Cincinnati redshirt sophomore third baseman Connor McVey put one down, but the double-play attempt to first base by senior catcher Woody Wallace went wide, allowing Sergakis and Kuhn to score for a 3-0 lead.
“Between the drag bunt and the sacrifice bunt, we were able to produce some runs,” said OSU coach Greg Beals. “It’s nice for an offense to score runs in different ways. With the wind blowing in, it wasn’t a bang-it type of day today. We were able to get 10 hits and score nine runs. We were able to use the small ball to produce some runs.”
The Buckeyes tallied their fourth run of the inning on a double by designated hitter Ryan Leffel that just barely stayed in play down the right-field line.
The Scarlet and Gray tacked on another run in the fifth courtesy of the co-captain Sergakis. The Columbus native smacked his Big Ten-leading 14th double of the season down the left=field line, scoring Dawson, who reached on a bloop double of his own.
The Bearcats threatened in the top of the seventh, loading the bases against the combination of senior Daulton Mosbarger and sophomore Seth Kinker. Kinker, however, worked his way out of the jam, preserving OSU’s 5-0 lead.
OSU would later add four more runs in bottom half of the seventh, pushing the game far from the claws of the Bearcats.
Woodby said the win against his former team didn’t really mean too much to him, chalking it up as just another win. But he did say the shutout was a big momentum builder for the team moving forward.
“It’s huge for the pitchers, but at the same time it gives confidence for the hitters, because they know that we’re going to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” he said. “It’s huge for the pitching staff because we’re all doing so well. It’s a whole team effort.”
Beals said the shutout shows the depth and the strength of his pitching staff, and he is looking ahead to the Big Ten matchup as a chance to make a move in the conference standings with a three-game road series against Illinois.
“It’s an opportunity for us to one-up somebody in the standings,” Beals said. “We need to win that series on the road. We’ve been playing good baseball at home, and we need to take that on the road.”
The three-game set in Champaign, Illinois, is scheduled to begin on Friday at 7 p.m.