Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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Behind great pitching…and just enough hitting…Ohio State got the bad taste of last weekend out of its mouth with a Tuesday night win over Ohio University.

Columbus – There were two things that characterized the Ohio State Buckeyes’ Tuesday night win over the Ohio University Bobcats, a 3-0 affair in front of the about 850 chilled who literally stripped the concessions of coffee and hot chocolate.

five-star-embed_284x725One, mid-week games are typically affairs to get playing time for spare players and freshmen trying to get their feet wet in college baseball.  But not this Tuesday, as Greg Beals trotted out his Friday finest in an effort to get rid of the bad taste left by being swept by Minnesota last weekend.  He – they – wanted a win.

And two, he took no chances, or shortcuts.  Not only were the position starters in the game for the first eight innings, but he exercised his entire bullpen to restore confidence lost in the 30-hit bashing absorbed in last Saturday’s double-header loss to the Gophers.  Five pitchers – Austin Woodby, Reece Calvert, Joe Stoll, Yianni Pavlopoulos, and Keth Kinker all took the mound, and credit, for a 6-hit shutout of the previously 11-11 Bobcats.

In short, it was a dress rehearsal for the Purdue Boilermakers, who come to Bill Davis Stadium this weekend with an overall 12-10 record, sitting two spots ahead of the Buckeyes after a week of Big Ten play.

“It was a dress rehearsal,”  admitted Beals afterwards.  “It’s one of those things where we wanted to get some guys work, but we thought we needed to win also.  We needed to change the air and the only way to do that was to got out and win a ballgame.  So yeah, this wasn’t a walk-through mid-week game.  We got as many people as we could on the mound – would have liked a couple of more – but we got people enough work to still have them fresh for the weekend.”

third base

Catcher Jacob Barnwell scored the would-be winning run on this overthrow at third base in the fifth inning.

For the longest time it looked like the same offense that lagged behind the onslaught put forth by the Gophers last weekend.  Likewise, Ohio U. ran a full complement of pitchers out there for work, and through the first five innings the Buckeyes could muster just two hits off the likes of starter Cory Blessing, Nick Kamrada, Kenny Ogg and Matt Mikolajcak.

But…OSU did strike in the fourth when Kamrada lost command of the strike zone, surrendering a couple of walks before being replaced by Ogg, and saw one of those walks, Jacob Barnwell score on a throwing error by OU catcher Nick Bredeson.  That unearned run stood up for the longest time…until the seventh, when Dominic Canzone had a base hit, Noah West was hit by a pitch, Tre Gantt walked to load the bases, and Barnwell singled to left to score the final two runs and cap a personal night that saw him reach base three times.

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Anthem buddies at Bill Davis Stadium…..!

That was the sum total of the Buckeyes scoring…3 runs on 6 hits, while playing error-free baseball.

The story, though, was the pitching, which pleased Beals, and Austin Woodby, no end.

“It was a controlled start for me, not as far as I could go, and I felt good about getting out there and having a good night,”  said Springboro graduate, Woodby.  “It was a confidence builder for our bullpen and I think everyone threw well tonight.  This definitely is going to be an important three games (Purdue) for us.

“Last weekend was just one of those moments where we needed to realize what we did wasn’t good enough.  We wanted to go home and just flush it.  We talked about it, it was in the past, and we had to move on and be better.  Tonight was a move in the right direction.”

And, beside dusting the rust off the bullpen, it spotlighted another development in the batting order.  Freshman Dominic Canzone (Walsh Jesuit HS) made his second consecutive start in right field, and for the second game in a row he connected for three hits, scored a run, and generally impressed Beals with his re-emergence.  Did he play his way into the coach’s weekend lineup, or was he already in his plans?

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“Well, I think he’s in the plan,”  stated Beals.  “His potential is such that he has the ability to hit.  He had a classic first four weeks where he started to see Division I pitching from a national-caliber schedule, he struggled some, and probably for the first time in his life.  Here’s a kid that averaged two hits a game throughout his high school career – 50 some hits in each of his junior and senior years – so he’s been through his struggles here now and hopefully he’s gotten through that.”

They didn’t exactly blow out the Bobcats, but frankly they accounted for themselves pretty well.  Their pitching was solid, if not spectacular, and it took a great comeback effort by Yianni Pavlopoulos, who surrendered leadoff hits in the top of the eighth (the Bobcats’ best opportunity to score), to leave those runners stranded as he bowed his neck to retire the next three in order, two on third strikes looking.  Seth Kinker came on in the ninth to record the save.

OSU baseball team

Others to come through the “rehearsal” in good form – Reece Calvert (who gave up 7 in an inning on Saturday), and Joe Stoll, who continues to just throw strikes and benefit accordingly.  Between the two, only one OU base runner reached base.

10-14 as they have two days now to prepare for the surprising Boilermakers, Beals hopes there is some new-found confidence in Tuesday’s win…and that it carries over.

“It was just nice to hear some music playing in the clubhouse after the game,”  he admitted.  “That’s the biggest story of the day – that we got a much-needed victory.  We pitched well, used multiple guys to do it, and we’re going to need all those guys to be ready to compete come this weekend.  We’re going to need all those guys (against Purdue).”

double play

Freshman Noah West turns the double play over OU’s Spencer Ibarra in the fourth inning.

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