The Ohio State baseball team knew facing off against the No. 5 Oregon State Beavers and the reigning Pac-12 champion Utah Utes that this would be a challenging weekend.
And while the Buckeyes were able to split the series against the Beavers (7-1), they were swept by the Utes (5-1) and lost the weekend series 1-3 and dropped to 3-5 on the season.
The pitching struggled over the weekend but, arguably the biggest issue of the series for the Buckeyes came behind the mound, as the defense struggled to field the ball cleanly. The club had four errors in their first game against Utah, three in the second game against the Utes and another one in the series finale against Oregon State.
Game 1 versus Utah
This game was all Utah from the beginning, as they piled on the offense and came away with a convincing 12-0 victory over OSU.
Redshirt junior starting pitcher and co-captain Adam Niemeyer allowed only a single run in the first inning, but the Utes piled on in the second. Niemeyer gave up five runs in the bottom of the second, thanks in large part to a bases-loaded double from freshman second baseman Oliver Dunn.
The lead was expanded to 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth by a two-run home run off the bat of senior right fielder Josh Rose.
The Utes scored three times in the fifth and once in the sixth, giving them their 12th and final run.
Utah received a dominant combined effort from its pitching staff, as they held the Buckeyes to just five hits and three walks while striking out seven. Freshman starting pitcher Jacob Rebar delivered 5.2 shutout innings with only three hits and one walk allowed while striking out three.
Game 2 versus No. 5 Oregon State
Coming off a rough debut as a starting pitcher, redshirt junior starting pitcher Yianni Pavlopoulos delivered six innings of three hit, shutout baseball and led the Buckeyes to a 6-1 victory over the fifth-ranked Beavers.
After scoring in the first inning, OSU remained silent until the fifth inning. With a runner on second, sophomore third baseman Brady Cherry drilled a home run over the left-field fence to expand the Buckeye lead to 3-0.
Both teams scratched across runs in the seventh inning before the Buckeyes tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth off an errant throw on a fielder’s choice and an RBI single by junior left fielder Tyler Cowles.
In Pavlopoulos’ first career start, the right-hander surrendered six runs on four hits, two walks and lasted only 2.1 innings. This time around, he was able to miss bats and limit base runners, allowing only three hits and three walks while striking out four batters. Of the three hits he allowed, only one went for extra bases compared to the two extra-base hits he allowed in his last start.
Game 3 versus Utah
After falling into an early five-run hole, the Buckeyes staged a late comeback, but fell just short and lost to the Utes for the second time this weekend 6-4.
With the game sitting at 2-1, things started to unravel for sophomore starting pitcher Ryan Feltner in the fourth inning. He allowed back-to-back doubles to open up the frame, which brought the score to 3-1. An error and a single followed the pair of doubles and Utah expanded its lead to 4-1. The Utes would later go on to score again in the fifth and seventh.
After Utah’s starting pitcher exited the game having dealt six innings of one-run baseball, the OSU bats immediately came to life, scoring a run quickly in the seventh after Ratcliff doubled and later scored on a wild pitch and throwing error.
The eighth inning was the most productive one of the night, however, for the OSU offense. With two down and runners on the corners, junior first baseman Bo Coolen singled up the middle to bring the score to 6-3. Redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Ratcliff followed Coolen’s single with one of his own, driving in another run and bringing the score now to 6-4. The Buckeyes would later load the bases, but a strikeout ended the frame.
Sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth for the Buckeyes, but Utah’s closer was able to put away the next three batters and send the Utes home happy.
After Feltner left the game, the Buckeyes received a lights-out performance by their bullpen. Senior relief pitcher Joe Stoll allowed only one run on two hits and one walk in 1.1 innings while freshman relief pitcher Jake Vance came in and provided OSU with 1.2 innings of three hit, shutout baseball. Redshirt junior relief pitcher Kyle Michalik provided the lockdown performance of the game, going 1.1 innings while allowing no runs on only one hit.
Game 4 versus No. 5 Oregon State
Needing a victory to secure at least a series split, OSU could not find enough offense and fell to Oregon State 5-1.
The game was held scoreless until the fourth inning. After two straight hits began the inning, freshman catcher Adley Rutschman chopped one to the right side that Coolen couldn’t quite get to, plating the first run of the game and giving the Beavers the early 1-0 lead.
Junior Michael Gretler followed Rutschman’s single with a double that rolled just under Cherry’s glove and brought the score to 2-0 Beavers. An error in the inning brought across the third run of the inning across for the Beavers.
After Oregon State scored again in the sixth inning, there was little action until the top of the eighth inning. With two away and the Buckeyes’ hopes fading, Junior outfielder Tre’ Gantt stepped up to the plate and drilled the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence for a home run.
The OSU offense was largely shut down in this one by redshirt junior starting pitcher Jake Thompson. Thompson limited the Buckeyes to just one run on two hits and three walks while striking out seven across eight innings.
OSU will travel to Builes Creek, North Carolina on Friday to kick off a three-game series against Campbell University. First pitch of the weekend series is set for Friday at 6 p.m. with Niemeyer, the likely starter for the Buckeyes.