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Baseball: Ohio State falls shy of Big Ten tournament after losing two of three to Indiana

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Senior shortstop Jalen Washington singles to third on a 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the first inning against Purdue on Sunday. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporter

Reigning Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State (22-34, 8-16) will not be given a chance to defend their title as they finish 11th in the conference — three spots shy of qualifying for the tournament — following a 2-1 series loss to Indiana (30-20-2, 14-9-1).

The Buckeyes’ 22-34 record is the worst in coach Greg Beals’ seven-year tenure at OSU and the first time the team has missed the tournament under his guidance. Their 11th place finish in the Big Ten is the lowest the team has placed in the history of the program, while their .393 overall winning percentage is the lowest since posting a winning percentage of .378 in 1979 (17-26-2, 10-7).

Game 1

The Buckeyes were propelled by a huge sixth inning and shut down a late comeback attempt by the Hoosiers to win the first game of the series 7-4.

An RBI-groundout in the first inning off the bat of freshman right fielder Dominic Canzone gave OSU the early 1-0 lead, but the Hoosiers later tied the game up on a home run by senior center fielder Craig Dedelow in the top of the fifth inning.

Then, in the sixth inning, OSU regained the lead and pulled ahead by a commanding five-run advantage, thanks to RBI hits from redshirt senior Shea Murray, sophomore Jacob Barnwell and sophomore pinch-hitter Andrew Fishel.

Now trailing by five runs, the Hoosiers needed a spark, and they again received one from their center fielder Dedelow who homered to right-center for his second bomb of the night.

The Buckeyes tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the eighth to give their bullpen a 7-2 cushion heading into the ninth.

The first two Hoosier batters went down on eight total pitches, and the end seemed near for Indiana. But junior right fielder Logan Sowers blasted the third Indiana home run of the day to provide his team with some life with two outs in the ninth.

A single and stolen base gave sophomore catcher Ryan Fineman a chance with a runner in scoring position, but it was a throwing error that drove in the Hoosiers’ second run of the inning. Junior reliever Seth Kinker was called on at this point to slam the door on Indiana, and he did just that with a three-pitch strikeout.

Game 2

A seven-run third inning proved insurmountable for the Buckeyes as they dropped the second game of the series 8-4 to Indiana.

OSU received a spark early from Washington, who stole home to put the Buckeyes on the board in the bottom of the first inning.

But that lead would not last long as the Hoosiers exploded two innings later in the top of the third. Three straight singles to open up the frame knotted the game up at one before an RBI-groundout finally put one away for Indiana. After that first out of the inning, Indiana strung together a double, single, triple, walk, squeeze bunt and another double pushed five more runs across for Indiana and gave them a commanding 7-1 lead.

The Buckeyes were down, but they were not out. Two singles with one away in the bottom half of the third gave sophomore third baseman Brady Cherry a key run-scoring opportunity, and he delivered with a two-run RBI double to bring his team to within four. Cherry scored later in the inning to bring the score to 7-4.

Indiana added one more the next half inning to extend their lead, and held the Buckeyes scoreless for the remaining six innings of the game to hold onto their 8-4 lead and tie the series up at one.

Game 3

Washington made the most of his senior day, but the Buckeyes could not salvage a win in the final game of their regular season, losing to Indiana 4-3.

The Buckeyes and Hoosiers traded runs in the first inning before an RBI-single from freshman shortstop Jeremy Houston in the second inning put Indiana up 2-1.

Houston later lead off the seventh inning with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt before coming home to score on an RBI-double off the bat of sophomore designated hitter Matt Lloyd. Lloyd came around to score later in the inning on a wild pitch to expand the Hoosier lead to 4-1.

But the Buckeyes started to show some life in the bottom of the eighth inning. With a runner aboard, Washington launched his seventh home run of the season, cutting the Indiana lead to just one.

With only three outs remaining in their season, the Buckeyes were able to put a runner in scoring position with only one out in the bottom of the ninth. But a pair of groundouts to follow ended the Buckeye rally and officially put an end to their season.

Making his final start in a Scarlet and Gray uniform, Washington finished Saturday 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored. Though he had played shortstop for the majority of the season, he started senior day behind the dish, the position he played all of last season.

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