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Baseball: Ohio State offense heats up to win series over Campbell

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Ohio State then-junior catcher, now shortstop, Jalen Washington bats against Northwestern on March 26, 2016 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporter

Coming off a weekend where runs were hard to come by, the Ohio State baseball team found their offense in North Carolina, winning the weekend series against the Campbell Camels (5-5) 2-1.

The Buckeyes dropped the series opener, but their offense combined for 14 runs over the next two games and the bullpen proved reliable over the weekend as the team improved their record to 5-6.

Junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt proved to be the most consistent bat for the Buckeyes, finishing the series 4 for 10 with four walks, a run scored and three runs batted in. The bullpen proved to be reliable for the Buckeyes as they combined for 10 innings pitched, allowing only four runs (three earned) on 10 hits, five walks while striking out 10.

Game 1

The Camels jumped on the Buckeyes early and held onto their lead late to secure the 7-2 victory in Game 1.

The scoring began for the Camels in the first inning. With one out, Campbell strung together back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third for sophomore first baseman Jimmy Monaghan. Monaghan, then, lifted a sacrifice fly to the center fielder to give his club the early lead.

The second inning was scoreless, but the Camels got their offense going again in the third inning. After a hit-by-pitch and double put runners on second and third with one out, junior right fielder Jeff Hahs singled up the middle to plate the second and third Camel runs of the evening. They scored again in the fourth inning, ending the evening for redshirt junior starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer.

But the Buckeyes would not be kept off the scoreboard for long. After sophomore third baseman Brady Cherry walked to lead off the top of the fifth inning, junior left fielder Tyler Cowles launched the 1-0 fastball over the left field fence, bringing the score to 4-2.

The score stayed that way until the flood gates opened up in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Camels had the bases loaded with only one away when redshirt senior designated hitter Cole Hallum came up to the plate. He was hit by pitch, bringing in a run. Monaghan followed Hallum with his second sacrifice fly of the day, scoring the second run of the inning. Then Hahs rolled a ground ball to third base that was mishandled by Cherry, allowing the third run of the inning to score and bring the Camel lead to 7-2.

This was another game of missed opportunities for the Buckeyes. Though they were walked a whopping 10 times and hit by a pitch in this game, they mustered only two hits in the game and left a total of 10 batters on base. OSU was 0-8 with runners in scoring position and 1-14 with runners on base.

Game 2

Coming off a disappointing offensive effort in Game 1, the Buckeyes were able to get the bats going early thanks to an early display of power, and ran away with a 7-1 victory.

The game could not have started much better for OSU. After the leadoff hitter reached base via a four-pitch walk, senior shortstop Jalen Washington roped his first home run of the season to left field, putting the Buckeyes on top early, 2-0.

Following a walk issued to the next batter, redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Ratcliff crushed the first pitch he saw for a home run to deep left field, putting the Buckeyes ahead 4-0. Back-to-back base hits followed the two home runs and chased Campbell redshirt junior starting pitcher Andrew Witczak from the game before he retired a single batter. The Buckeyes scored once more in the inning.

The only score for the Camels came in the second inning when redshirt freshman left fielder Matthew Barefoot doubled down the left field line, bringing home the runner from first base.

The Buckeyes scored in the top of the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk and scored again in the top of the sixth inning on Ratcliff’s second home run of the game.

Though Ratcliff’s bat undoubtedly helped propel OSU to the victory, redshirt senior starting pitcher Jake Post had his best start of the season and was a major factor in the Buckeyes 7-1 victory. He allowed only one run on five hits and one walk in six innings of work. He also struck out a career-high eight batters in the game.

Game 3

OSU benefitted from a wild second inning and managed to stave off a late comeback attempt from the Camels to secure the series victory in a 7-6 win on Sunday.

The Buckeyes got things started in the top of the second inning thanks to some erratic pitching from Campbell freshman starting pitcher Ryan Kirk. A pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded up the bases with two outs for OSU sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell.

The first pitch was mishandled by the catcher, allowing Ratcliff to score from third. A wild pitch after that scored the second run of the inning. Barnwell then reached on an infield single that scored another run for OSU. A single from junior center and the third walk of the inning loaded the bases again. Then the second passed ball of the inning allowed Barnwell to cross the plate, bringing the OSU lead up to 4-0.

The Camels scored once in the bottom of the second and again in the bottom of the third to draw within two, but the Buckeyes scored in the top of the fourth to bring the score to 5-2.

The Camels came back in a big way in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, junior second baseman Christian Jones roped a double down the right field line to knot the game up at five.

With the game now tied and not having scored in the past three innings, the Buckeyes needed a spark to regain the lead. Cowles led off the inning with a single and redshirt senior Shea Murray came in to pinch run. A sacrifice bunt with a throwing error and a single loaded up the bases with no outs for Gantt. Gantt flew out to right field, scoring Murray from third. Washington followed the sacrifice fly with a single that tacked one more on to bring the score to 7-5.

The Camels mounted a comeback in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run from Barefoot to get the inning started off. Two more runners would reach base, but junior relief pitcher Seth Kinker stranded them both to escape the eighth with the lead.

OSU heads back down to Florida for a three-game series against Florida Gulf Coast beginning this Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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