Starting the season off 0-3 in conference play is always a tough hole to fall into to begin the season. And coming off a weekend where the Ohio State baseball team was dominated in nearly all facets of the game, OSU was starting to press for that elusive victory.
For OSU coach Greg Beals and the rest of his team, the 13-2 win against Purdue for the Buckeyes first Big Ten win of the season was a relaxing night for the team as it was their first real commanding victory all season.
“A team and a coach all need some nights like this where you can take a deep breath and relax and guys can get a chance to play and guys can play a little more relaxed,” Beals said. “Tonight was a night, and the season hasn’t been this way very often, but tonight was a night (where) it was all Buckeyes.”
The win did not necessarily come easy, however, despite the one-sided score. With the temperature around 56 degrees, winds of nearly 12 mph and a steady rain coming down over the stadium in the early innings of the game, the team had to battle not only the Boilermakers, but the weather in this game.
But Beals said his team was prepared for the weather and that they simply embraced the rough conditions.
“When I went out to the huddle before the game starts, I said, ‘let’s embrace it tonight,’” Beals said. “There’s things you can’t control. The weather is one of them. Our opportunity to represent Ohio State is right here and we’ve got to be ready to take advantage of it.”
OSU did not require much help from the wild weather to get on the scoreboard. After a pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch that took a bounce off the catcher’s shin guard made it all the way up the first base line, scoring a pair of runs from second and third.
Sophomore third baseman Brady Cherry followed that wild pitch with a line-drive single to left-center field, scoring the Buckeyes’ third run of the inning.
The wildness continued into the next inning for the Boilermakers as their starting pitcher walked four batters in the inning and threw two wild pitches. The Buckeyes picked up a run to expand their lead to 4-0 on the second wild pitch of the inning.
After a sacrifice fly early in the third inning put OSU ahead 5-0, sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell came up to the plate with runners on first and second and two away. Barnwell lined a single up the middle, scoring the runner from second.
A poor throw into the infield on the single by the center fielder got away from the middle-infielders, allowing another run to score in the inning and bring the OSU lead to 7-0.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, junior left fielder Noah McGowan lifted a deep fly ball out to right field. The wind took control of the ball and it evaded the glove of the right fielder, allowing McGowan to reach third base safely for a triple.
McGowan’s triple was immediately followed up by an RBI single up the middle by redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff. A wild pitch later in the inning scored Ratcliff to put OSU ahead 9-0.
The team scored in each of the first four innings and was able to maintain their lead, an issue that has plagued the team this season.
Beals was proud of the way his team was able to keep momentum on their side throughout the game.
“We score, we put up a zero. We score, put up a zero. Score, put up a zero,” Beals said. “And that’s just deflating to a team when you don’t let them back in.”
In the top of the eighth, Purdue had runners on first and second for sophomore catcher Nick Dalesandro. The Boilermakers second-year backstop grounded into a fielder’s choice and attempted double play, but a wild throw by the shortstop allowed the runner from second to score and put the Boilermakers on the scoreboard.
A single from freshman center fielder Skyler Hunter followed the fielder’s choice and drove in Dalesandro from second to bring the score to 9-2.
The Buckeyes got those runs back and then some when junior first baseman Bo Coolen doubled down the right field line with the bases loaded, clearing the bases and adding three to the Buckeyes’ lead. A run later scored on a groundout to bring the score to 13-2.
Making a spot start for a banged-up Buckeye rotation, redshirt junior starting pitcher Yianni Pavlopoulos turned in a scoreless outing. He lasted five innings, giving up only two hits and two hit-batsmen while walking none and striking out three.
For a team that was missing both redshirt senior pitcher Jake Post and redshirt junior starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer for the weekend, the Buckeyes needed a solid outing out of Pavlopoulos and Beals was more than pleased by what he saw.
Pavlopoulos was happy with his start, saying that he felt comfortable throwing his fastball for strikes consistently, even if his offspeed stuff wasn’t quite working in the cold, wet weather.
“I mean my curveball, I just could not figure it out; I could not get on top of it. Fastball was really all I had for the first three innings,” Pavlopoulos said. “When the team gives you a four-run lead, a seven-run lead, it makes it a lot easier to just go out there and pound the zone with the fastball.”
Post was unavailable to start on Friday, but Beals hopes that given time, he will be ready to go on Sunday.
“He wasn’t ready. He’s got some soreness in his back that flared up on him this week,” Beals said. “We’ve been giving him treatment and we are hoping that maybe he is ready for Sunday.”
The Buckeyes hope to maintain the two-game winning streak into Saturday’s game against Purdue. The official start time for the game is 6 p.m.