A combined effort of enough pitching and robust offense helped OSU sweep the weekend series from Bethune Cookman.
Columbus – The only man with a broader smile than Greg Beals at Bill Davis Stadium Sunday…was Jacob Bosiokovic.
Beals was beaming because his suddenly surging Ohio State Buckeyes had just dusted the visiting Bethune Cookman Wildcats, 13-5, for their 19th win of the season in front of 756 sunbathed, but shivering, patrons.
Bosiokovic was showing his pearly whites because he had three of the Buckeyes’ 15 hits, including his Big Ten lead-tying 9th home run of the season, punctuated by an over-the-shoulder acrobatic catch in right field in the fifth inning that signaled that he’s all the way back from a hamstring injury…and fully invested in the Big Ten chase that begins in earnest next weekend when the Bucks visit Maryland.
Ohio State came back from an early 1-0 deficit Sunday, scoring a run in the second on Nick Sergakis’ fifth home run, four in the fourth, and seven in the fifth (with Bosiokovic’s homer), to stake starting pitcher John Havird to his second win of the season against one loss. Their final run came in bottom of the eighth on a double by Ryan Leffel and an rbi-single by Jalen Washington.
Everyone in the Buckeye lineup, with the exception of shortstop Craig Nennig, hit. Four players, Bosiokovic, Troy Kuhn, Brady Cherry, and L Grant Davis had multiple-hit days. Davis also had a career high in rbis, with four.
The hitting standout for Bethune Cookman was right fielder Nathan Bond, who was 3 for 3 with a pair of rbis and a home run.
For the Buckeyes the defense was crisp, sure-handed.
And while Havird was not at his sharpest, his line was workman-like…five innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs allowed. He struck out 3, walked one, and had two hit batsmen, both in the opening inning.
The bullpen? Seth Kinker pitched a perfect sixth before freshman Connor Curliss gave up three ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ runs in the top of the eighth…on an error, a pair of hits and a base-clearing triple by center fielder Josten Heron. Shea Murray loaded the bases in the ninth, but escaped run-free.
“I think the key today was getting the win and finishing out the home stretch in a very good fashion,” said Beals. “We win 10 of 11 at home and taking care of business at home is what a good ballclub does. Now we have to take this on the road next to Kent (State) on Tuesday and Maryland next weekend.”
Big hits from big hitters, in big spots, marked the win and the series sweep. That wasn’t lost on Beals.
“This team’s developed a confidence in itself and its ability to score runs,” he said. “I thought the big play of the day was L Grant Davis’s double in the fifth and that that kinda’ broke their back…two out, three-rbi-double, and that’s a big, big hit in a ballgame right there.”
And it’s been infectious. The Buckeyes finished the week with 8 home runs and 17 doubles. They lead the Big Ten in homers now with 33. Shortstop Craig Nennig, the hitting star of Saturday’s win, hit .438 in the wins against Ohio U., Toledo, and Bethune Cookman.
Bosiokovic’s first 27 games of the season continue to paint one of the most transformational pictures in college baseball. Coming back from a frustrating first three seasons, which included a redshirt year in which he went through Tommy John surgery, the 6’7″ infielder-turned-outfielder and designated hitter entered Sunday’s game with a .338 average, 8 home runs, and a robust .814 slugging percentage.
“He’s just not missing his pitch right now,” said Beals. “They went to the well once too often on his home run today, he was on it, and he hit it pretty good. There’s a confidence about him and he’s playing really well right now. His is a great story and we just need him to keep it rolling right now.”
A fact that the Deleware, Ohio junior fully embraces, and looks forward to going into next weekend’s series with Maryland.
“It’s just baseball,” he said Sunday with a smile. “The last couple of days were kinda’ tough for me with the weather, I wasn’t seeing the ball well, and I wasn’t swinging at the pitches I want. Today I just tried to keep my head straight and tell myself everything will be fine.”
19-7-1 entering another week, and next weekend’s big series with Maryland, their sweep was fuel for the soul of this baseball club, playing as well as they can hope, and playing with the confidence necessary to remove any remaining doubts from last year’s collapse (including Maryland) to end the season.
“The Sunday game against Maryland last year was a turning point for us,” admits Beals. “We had a five-run lead in that game (8-3) and ended up losing that ballgame. That was a tough one and I’m not sure we ever recovered from it.”
L Grant Davis, with two hits and the back-breaking double on Sunday, is ready for the challenge.
“Today gives us confidence, to go on the road next week and play a good Maryland club,” he said Sunday. “It’s frightening to think about how good this lineup can be when everyone’s contributing. We really haven’t been clicking of late. There’s been certain parts of the lineup that’s been picking others up, and if we can figure it out to where we get everyone puttin’ good swings on the ball it’s very, very scary to think about what this team can do.”
Final line score on Sunday:
Ohio State had 13 runs on 15 hits and committed one error.
Bethune Cookman headed to the airport having scored 5 runs, on 12 hits, and committed 2 errors.
Bottom line, it was a sweep when they needed it most, irrespective of the competition, its record, or any lingering questions or doubts. Now is the time for this baseball team, they know it, and they’ll tune up once before next weekend with a trip to Kent State on Tuesday.
“It’s confidence,” Davis said. “Whether you’re in the game or sitting on the bench, you come up in a certain situation and people are expecting you to get a hit. We have the confidence now that you’re going to do that. Bosie’s tearing it up. He comes to the plate and you think he’s locked in. Nick’s swingin’ great. Ronnie (Dawson) seein’ the ball, making hard outs even when the ball doesn’t drop. The whole lineup is doing great. It’s gonna’ be good.”
As his day Sunday was special, and profitable, Davis and the Buckeyes now must go on the road…hoping next week is just as special.
And that his words prove him to be not just profitable…but a prophet!
(Graphics and page design by Julie McMaken Wright)