Coming off a disappointing weekend against Florida Gulf Coast where the Ohio State baseball team drop two out of the three games, the Buckeyes needed a pair of wins to bring their record to an even 8-8.
A commanding 7-3 win on Tuesday against Lehigh and a 5-2 victory against Bucknell on Wednesday ensured that the team would be .500 heading into their first home game of the season on Friday.
Junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt continued his roll through the midweek series. He went 3 for 7 in the series with two walks, four runs scored, two runs batted in and a home run. The leadoff hitter has now reached base in every game this season and is now batting .345 in 2017.
Game 1 versus Lehigh University
The Buckeye bats got going early against the Mountain Eagles (2-9) and they never looked back as they ran away to the 7-3 victory.
The first inning could not have started any better for OSU. After the Mountain Eagles were set down in order in the top half of the inning, the Buckeyes were able to get their first two batters on first and second after a walk and hit-by-pitch to start off the inning. A single by junior second baseman Noah McGowan scored the first run of the game and a double by redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Ratcliff added to it and helped OSU grab the early 2-0 lead.
Lehigh hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning, but the Buckeyes hit one of their own in the bottom half, and another later in the bottom of the third to ultimately expand their lead to 4-1.
The fourth inning was arguably the most eventful for both teams. With one out in the inning, the Mountain Eagles put runners on second and third on the strength of a walk, single and wild pitch. A groundout scored Lehigh’s second run of the game before senior first baseman Connor Donovan singled to left field to bring the game to within one.
With the score now at 4-3, the Buckeyes got a spark in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt blasted the fifth pitch he saw over the right field wall for his second home run of his season (and career) to give the Buckeyes a bit more room. A single and a double followed up Gantt’s homer and a sacrifice fly from Ratcliff reclaimed the Buckeyes three-run lead. OSU would score once more in the bottom of the seventh to finish off the scoring for both teams and seal the final score at 7-3.
This was a bullpen kind of day for the Buckeyes. Freshman Jake Vance came in for his first career start and lasted 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. Redshirt junior Austin Woodby came in after Vance and allowed only two hits and no walks with no runs scored in 2.1 innings of work. Redshirt senior Joe Stoll followed up Vance and closed out the game, going three innings with only one hit allowed and striking out five.
Game 2 vs Bucknell
The Buckeyes received a stellar performance in sophomore Connor Curlis’ first career start and went on to win a close one against Bucknell (6-7), 5-2.
Both teams were kept quiet until the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs in the inning, sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell and Gantt reached base with back-to-back singles. Then, on a 1-1 count, senior shortstop Jalen Washington doubled down the right field line, scoring both runners and gave the Buckeyes the 2-0 lead.
The team scored another run in the sixth inning to bring the score to 3-0.
A leadoff double from Bucknell gave the Bison their first scoring opportunity of the day. A groundout advanced the runner on to third base, and a single by freshman catcher Alex Baumann drove in the team’s first run of the game. With a fielder’s choice and an error later, a second run scored in the inning when senior outfielder Danny Rafferty delivered an infield single to the second baseman.
The Buckeyes responded, however, with a two-run inning of their own. Shortly after Gantt contributed his first RBI of the day, he would later advance on to third on a throwing error and score from third on a wild pitch.
The bats certainly aided OSU in its victory, but the Buckeyes received a lockdown start from Curlis. The southpaw allowed only four hits and one walk across 5.1 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts.
The Buckeyes travel back to Bill Davis Stadium for their first home games of the season on Friday against Xavier. They will remain home on Saturday and travel down to Cincinnati to Xavier in Game 3. Game 1 will begin at 5:05 p.m. with redshirt senior Jake Post set to start the game for OSU.