Stymied for lack of a big hit in the first two games of the series, the Buckeyes made up for lost time in the finale – 21 hits, and 13 runs in win over the Spartans.
For three weeks now Ohio State coach Greg Beals has lamented the fact of a lack of confidence at the plate by his young Buckeyes.
Frustrated even, Beals said as late as Friday’s 2-0 loss in the series opener with Michigan State, “We have to find a way to be better offensively.”
They found whatever they were looking for Sunday as the Buckeyes (15-21, 4-8 B1G) had a season-high in base hits (21) en route to a 13-8 win over the Spartans (20-12, 5-4 B1G).
The frustration, at least for a day, is over. And if confidence is contagious, they found it Sunday in epidemic proportions.
Pressed into service as the finale’s starting pitcher, Reece Calvert (Plano, Texas) pitched five effective innings, giving up four runs on two hits. The big knock against him was a 2-run first inning home run by the Spartans’ second baseman Dan Durkin. He left the game one out deep in the sixth.
But Calvert, on this day, got all the offensive support he could have asked for – a first inning trumping two-run home run by Jalen Washington (his fifth), a single run in the second, two more runs in the fourth…and the crowning blows were delivered in the fifth when the Buckeyes batted around and scored six times, highlighted by Shea Murray’s first collegiate home run, a two-run shot to right field scoring freshman Connor Pohl ahead of him.
Michigan State, however, is the leading offensive team in the Big Ten and came back to score three times in the sixth, once in the seventh, and twice more in the eighth off four Ohio State relievers over the final four innings – Connor Curlis (a run on a hit), Kyle Michalik (a run on two hits), Joe Stoll (no runs, no hits), and Seth Kinker (2 runs on three hits).
The Buckeyes added single runs in the eighth and ninth to close the scoring – Brady Cherry homering in the ninth for his fourth bomb of the year.
The 21 hits marked their largest single game output of the 2017 season and highlighted multiple-hit games for freshman Dominic Canzone (4 for 6), freshman Connor Pohl (2 for 6), Tre Gantt (3 for 6), Washington (2 for 5), Jacob Barnwell (2 for 6), and designated hitter Andrew Fishel (3 for 5).
The Buckeyes return home this week for a Wednesday evening single game against Northern Kentucky, followed by a weekend three-game series with the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Notes: Three players extended hitting streaks with Sunday’s outburst: Jalen Washington (5 games), Bo Coolen (4 games), and Connor Pohl (3 games). Designated hitter Andrew Fishel had his first multi-hit game (3) in his first career start. Tre’ Gantt notched a season-high three runs scored. Dominic Canzone’s four-hit day lack only a home run or he would have hit for the cycle. Their 21 hits was the most for a game since March 10, 2016.