The Buckeyes show some “gumption” after Friday’s disappointing loss, evening their series with Campbell with a 7-1 win.
BUIES CREEK, NC — After Ohio State’s dismal loss to Campbell here Friday night, Coach Greg Beals had one simple message.
“If you have any gumption,” Beals said, following the 7-2 loss, “you will be ready to play tomorrow.”
In those few words, Beals hit a nerve that was already raw.
“We really didn’t need a pep talk or anything like that,” said senior starter Jake Post. “We knew what we needed to do.”
The Buckeyes, now 4-6, came out thumping Saturday and dropped Campbell, 7-1.
In the first five minutes of the game, they equaled their scoring from the previous night. Fourteen minutes into the game it was 4-0 and by the time Campbell reached the dugout, the Fighting Camels were looking at a 5-0 hole after a half inning of play.
The Buckeyes had batted around and chased Campbell’s starting pitcher, Andrew Witzcak, who was unable to record a single out.
Beyond that, they were supporting a pitcher who was determined to quiet the chatter he’d heard from the Campbell dugout the previous night.
“There was a lot of that coming from the dugout,” Post said. “Some chanting. I just felt like they crossed the line. We’re hearing that this season. I just wanted to, you know, set the record straight.”
That job started right out of the box. Tre’ Gantt drew a leadoff walk and Jalen Washington promptly homered to left on a full count pitch.
The sequence was immediately repeated. Noah McGowan followed with a walk and Zach Ratcliff belted a home run to left field.
“A moon shot,” Post said, “another foot or two and it would have hit the lights.”
The team that managed just two hits the previous night and heard it from the Campbell bench continued the rally. Bo Coolen singled through the gap at third. Brady Cherry followed with a base hit.
A Campbell pitching change led to a wild pitch, putting runners at second and third. Tyler Cowles walked to load the bases and one out later, Jacob Barnwell lifted a sac fly to right and it’s 5-0.
Enter Post, motivated by the determination to keep his team in the game and silence the Campbell chatter. The fifth year senior, who underwent Tommy John surgery, spotted his fastball well, setting up the curveball.
“I felt really good,” he said. “And, yeah, having a five run lead before I ever touched the ball, that helped.”
Post worked six innings, allowing five hits and one run. He issued one walk and struck out eight. But his most telling statistic was this: he faced 22 batters and threw 17 first pitch strikes.
“When you can get ahead in the count early and then get ‘em to chase the curveball, that’s what you want,” he said.
It sounds so very simple, but it has been and remains the lifeblood of the craft.
“He was nails all day,” Ratcliff said.
OSU staked Post to another run in the fourth on Bo Coolen’s sac fly with bases loaded, and in the sixth Ratcliff hit his second home run of the game, his fourth of the season.
“That one,” Post said, “was hit just as hard as the first. Zach is really seeing the ball well right now.”
“I don’t know if it was my fourth or fifth (home run),” Ratcliff said. “I try not to think about it. I’m just trying to put the bat on the ball…”
The one thing he doesn’t do is hit the ball on the ground.
“Have you ever seen me run?” he said, laughing. “I’m not what you would call fast. I try not to hit it on the ground.”
His .342 batting average leads the team by a significant margin, as does his RBI total (9), his total bases (27) and his slugging percentage (.711). But the fifth year senior sees growth around the upper classmen who carry the team.
“We’re young and at times it show,” he said. “We’ve proven that we can play with the best teams in the country. Other times, it’s not been there. It’s head-scratchers…But I believe as the season progresses, you will see more games like today and fewer like last night (when the Buckeyes were two hit and couldn’t capitalize on 10 walks).
“There are times when we are chasing pitches and falling behind in counts, getting in a hole, but we’re getting better about that. We’re progressing…More than anything guys are getting acclimated to the game, making the adjustments from junior college or high school to Division I baseball. It’s different. It’s not easy. You can’t give up pitches. You can’t give up at-bats.You got to stay locked-in.
“We’re 10 games in and you are seeing the progression of guys getting better each at-bat. I think once we realize every pitch matters and is truly important, we’ll be okay. You’ll see a difference.”
NOTES: Post’s start was complimented by some strong bullpen work. In the seventh Beals went to Dustin Jourdan, who threw two innings of shutout ball. Jourdan was followed by Curtiss Irving who tossed a scoreless ninth…In each of the past two games, the Buckeyes have drawn 10 walks… Ryan Feltner draws the start in Sunday’s 1:00 o’clock finale…After a week off, OSU goes back on the road. Next Friday the Buckeyes begin a three-game set against Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Meyers.