Buckeyes come home to cold temps with hot bats…batter Hofstra in their Bill Davis debut on Friday afternoon.
COLUMBUS — It didn’t take long for the homecoming party to start.
After spending the first four weeks of the season on the road and essentially playing .500-baseball, Ohio State came out gangbusters Friday night in their home opener. The Buckeyes hung a 12-1 win on Hofstra at Bill Davis Stadium, and improved to 9-6-1.
With Ronnie Dawson and Nick Sergakis leading the way, the Buckeyes pounded visiting Hofstra for four runs in the first, one in the second, three in the third, three more in the sixth and one in the eighth.
Dawson was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, five RBI, a triple, his third of the season and a home run, his fifth. He belted a two-run homer in the first and a bases loaded triple in the sixth.
Sergakis continued his offensive roll. The senior co-captain was 4-for-5 with two runs scored, three RBI, two doubles and a triple. He doubled in a run in the second. His triple in the sixth scored two..
Sergakis, who is hitting .426, is not only proving to be a day-in, day-out offensive threat, he is a pretty good prognosticator. On Thursday, he took a break from lunch to talk about the team, and what most would consider a less than satisfying start.
“Our pitching has been good and our bullpen has been exceptional,” he said. “And, we are starting to hit the ball better. Our problem has been fielding. We’ve made far too many errors and I’m right in the middle of that. (He leads the team with 11.)
“But I honestly believe that we will come around, and I believe we will right this thing and start playing better baseball…I think we are just right around the corner from clicking and just rolling.
“I think once we get on a roll, we are a team that can build up some momentum and…take a winning streak into double digits.”
That roll might well start this weekend. Hofstra, known for a tradition of good baseball, is 5-12 after Friday’s loss, and didn’t stand up well against Buckeye starter Tanner Tully.
Tully, 3-1 with the win, ran off six shutout innings allowing just two hits. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter. The bullpen, true to recent form, closed the door on Hofstra. Kyle Michalik allowed one run over two innings and lefty Connor Curlis closed the game with a perfect ninth.
Most important – in this one and from here on in – better fielding. OSU committed no errors.
In nearly every loss this season, bad fielding has played a significant roll. On Friday, and not coincidentally, back on their home turf, where they trained and prepared for the season, the Buckeyes played clean baseball.
In their first 15 games, OSU committed 32 errors, and as Coach Greg Beals has noted on several occasions, nobody wins kicking the ball around.
On the recent trip to Las Vegas, Beals had words with his team regarding their defense, and their offense. Beals said he did not air the team out, but rather “challenged” them to perform and meet their potential.
“It was more of a challenge,” Sergakis said. “He said, offense was supposed to be the strength of our team. He said, ‘What are you doing that’s hurting you as a player – that’s not part of your game plan – and what are you doing that’s not helping the team. You have to figure that out and figure out what direction you want to go.’
“It was sort of – find your self and let’s go as a team. The next day we scored 20 runs. So, I think every one pretty much took that to heart.”
The challenge went further. Beals urged his players to maintain that focus, to keep it going. In the four games played since Beals’ spoke to the team, Ohio State has scored 46 runs: 20, seven, seven and 12.
In the three games before Beals ask his players for a gut-check, OSU scored eight runs, and lost all three games.
But in all this, one element can not and should not be lost or overlooked. The Buckeyes are back home, where there is a natural comfort and ease that isn’t quite the same on the road, regardless of how much of a wizened veteran one happens to be.
“You just kind of relax, if you know what I mean,” Sergakis said.
They’re home again Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s game is a 3:05 start. Sunday’s game is at 1:05.