A lot of base runners, but no hits to drive them in. A cold night in Carolina turned the Buckeyes’ bats absolutely frigid in opening loss to Campbell.
BUIES CREEK, NC — It is one of the game’s oldest bromides, and it was certainly applicable to Ohio State’s encounter here with Campbell in the first of a three-game series in the Sandhills of North Carolina Friday night, a dismal 7-2 loss to the Fighting Camels.
“On any given day,” the saying goes, “anybody can beat anybody.”
And it’s truly the case when you are held to two hits, can’t capitalize on a season-high 10 walks, eight men are left on base, you’re 1-for-14 with men on base, 12 men strike out, six of those on a called third strike and, your starting pitching is suspect.
It was not a good night for the Buckeyes, a team that continues to show its youth and inexperience, now stands 3-6 and flopped against a Campbell team whose previous four wins came against Northern Kentucky and Quinnipiac.
Of course, on any given day…
Still, Coach Greg Beals, who was tossed in the fifth for arguing balls and strikes, was not pleased.
“Not very good,” he said. “We’ve got to play better. That’s all there is to it. We had a chance to make a couple plays. We had a chance to get a couple hits and it would have been a very different ballgame, but it didn’t happen.
“The way we’re playing right now, we are not getting those hits…We’ve got to find a way to get ’em…We’ve got to find a way to take advantage of our opportunities. You get 10 walks you have to be able to mix in a hit or two and make something happen. That wasn’t the case tonight.”
Hardly the case.
Campbell took a 1-0 lead in the first against starter Adam Niemeyer. Drew Butler doubled to left and Adam Wyse followed with a single through the right side and Jimmy Monaghan’s sacrifice fly plated the run.
The junior co-captain was in trouble again in the second after Matt Barefoot’s lead off double and a hit batter. He escaped with a punch-out and a routine pop fly, but he was jammed-up again in the third.
This time, he hits a man to start the inning, follows that by giving up a double and Jeff Hahs single up the middle scores two, giving a 3-0 lead.
Campbell got another run in the fourth, this one the product of a triple by Christian Jones and a right-side ground out. To that point in the game, OSU had one hit—a lead-off single in the first by junior Tre’ Gantt.
The Buckeyes finally marked in the fifth. Brady Cherry drew a walk and Tyler Cowles followed with his first home run of the season, his first in a Buckeye uniform. But what looked like a rally, flagged in the end.
With no outs and two in, Shea Murray drew a walk. One out later, Gantt walked. Jalen Washington took a called third strike—the second in the inning, which led to Beals’ ejection.
“The strike zone was, uh, awful,” Beals said. “It was like our fifth called (third) strike and they had none…I was just protecting my guys.”
When the smoke died down, Noah McGowan drew a walk to load the bases. But all three runners were stranded when Zach Ratcliff went down swinging.
Reece Calvert came on to replace Niemeyer starting the sixth and worked out of another scoring threat. With the bases loaded and one out, Calvert got a double play ball to end the inning.
After OSU went down in order in the sixth, Campbell went to work again in the sixth.
In short, Campbell chased Calvert and Kyle Michalik and turned two hits, an error, two walks and hit batsman into three runs and a 7-2 lead.
Connor Curliss came on to stem the tide and pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way. But, the damage was done and OSU hitters did nothing to mount an attack. From the sixth through the ninth the Buckeyes had three base runners. Two reached second base and were left there.
Beals was not angry after the game. He did sound tired and frustrated. Did he rake the team after the game? Did he attempt to motivate them?
“It was pretty simple,” he said. “I told them that if they had any gumption they would come out ready to play tomorrow. That’s it.”