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Baseball: Ohio State drops two of three to Michigan on the road

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Junior relief pitcher Seth Kinker delivers a 1-1 pitch to UNCG sophomore second baseman Austin Embler in the top of the sixth inning Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern Reporter

It was clear last season that the Ohio State baseball team had Michigan’s number after going 5-0 against their rivals for the first time in school history. This season, it seems the tables have turned as the Wolverines took two out of three from the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Over the course of the weekend, OSU (18-29, 6-12) scored six runs and 22 hits, while surrendering 13 runs and 21 hits to No. 17 Michigan (35-11,11-7). Though the hits were leaning in the Buckeyes’ favor, they struck out a total of 40 times over the three-game series.

The pair of losses to the Wolverines puts the Buckeyes in a tough spot in the Big Ten standings, falling two games behind Michigan State for the No. 8 spot in the standings, leaving them currently on the outside looking in for the 2017 Big Ten tournament.

Game 1

The Buckeyes could manage only seven hits in a dominant all-around performance by Michigan junior starting pitcher Oliver Jaskie in Friday’s 6-0 loss to the Wolverines.

For five innings of this game, OSU stayed within striking distance, trailing just 1-0 heading into the sixth inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, things began to unravel for OSU redshirt senior starting pitcher Jake Post. A walk and a double put a pair in scoring position for senior center fielder Johnny Slater. Slater, owning the game’s only RBI to that point, tripled to right field, scoring both runners and pushing his team ahead 3-0.

The next batter was senior catcher Harrison Wenson who launched a two-run home run, putting the Wolverines up to a commanding 5-0 lead and sending Post to the bench.

An RBI double from junior first baseman Jake Bivens in the eighth extended Michigan’s lead to 6-0, providing their starter with a comfortable cushion heading into the ninth.

The Buckeyes were able to load the bases in the ninth with two outs against Jaskie, but a groundout to third base sent the Wolverines home happy with a 6-0 victory in Game 1.

Jaskie gave the Wolverines all they could ask for on Friday night, delivering a complete-game shutout, holding the Buckeyes to just seven hits and one walk with 14 strikeouts. Only freshman right fielder Dominic Canzone was able to put up multiple hits against the third-year starting pitcher.

Game 2

Canzone continued his hot hitting into Saturday’s game, but his bat was not enough to propel his team to a win as the Buckeyes fell 5-2 to the Wolverines.

With two on and two out in the top of the third inning, Canzone drove in the Buckeyes’ first run of the series with an RBI single to left-center field, giving his team their first lead of the series. But the Wolverines quickly tied the game up with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning.

The next inning, the Wolverines took the lead on an RBI double from junior third baseman Drew Lugbauer.

The score remained at 2-1 until the bottom of the eighth inning when Michigan capitalized on a series of defensive mistakes. With one out and two runners aboard, sophomore designated hitter Nick Poirier singled to left field to drive in one run, but a fielding error by the left fielder allowed a second run to come around and score. Another fielding error by the second baseman later in the inning allowed Michigan’s fifth run to score.

The Buckeyes made one last effort to get on the board in the top of the ninth when sophomore designated hitter Andrew Fishel drove in a run on an RBI double, but the team’s rally fell short in its 5-2 loss.

The bats of OSU’s offense were again largely held in check by the opposing starting pitcher, as Michigan junior starting pitcher Alec Rennard struck out eight batters, and allowed just one run on five hits and one walk over seven innings of work.

Game 3

Making his first career start, junior pitcher Seth Kinker held the Wolverines in check and redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Ratcliff provided the runs in OSU’s 4-2 win over Michigan on Sunday.

The game was kept scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when an infield single and squeeze bunt managed to push a pair of runs home for the Wolverines and give them the 2-0 lead.

But the next inning, Ratcliff came up to the plate with the bases loaded, and for the second time this season, he cashed in a grand slam over the left field wall. The last time he hit a grand slam was on April 5 when he sent a game-tying round-tripper over the left field wall in OSU’s eventual 9-8 victory over Kent State.

Making his first career start, Kinker kept the Wolverine bats at bay for much of the game, limiting them to just four runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over six innings of work. He had steadily become familiar with making extended outings on Sundays, previously setting a career-high in innings pitched on April 23, and going 4.1 innings in relief last Sunday against Nebraska.

Redshirt junior starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer, making only his second appearance since March 25 (elbow tendinitis), notched his first career save with three shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three batters.

The Buckeyes will return home against Bowling Green on Tuesday and Ball State on Wednesday, before heading back out on the road to face Iowa next weekend. Their game against Bowling Green is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.

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