They fought back to tie it in the top of the ninth on a Dominic Canzone home run, only too see Coastal Carolina trump that with one of their own in the bottom of the inning. OUCH! Buckeyes lose a pair on a tough Saturday!
Conway, S.C—Ultimately, a team is judged by its record, wins and losses. It is defined, however, by the quality of its play. Therein lies the problem for Ohio State’s baseball team. Thus far, it is defined by its inconsistencies.
On Saturday here at Springs Brooks Stadium, the Buckeyes suffered two losses. Their record is 8-6, two notches above .500. The first loss came to High Point, 8-4. It turned on an error.
The second was a particularly painful loss to Coastal Carolina, 10-8. Coastal’s Seth Lancaster hit a two-run, walk-off homer against Jake Vance—a blast to right field coming just minutes after Dom Canzone tied the game, 8-8, with a two-run homer in the top of the inning.
Canzone’s home run was Ohio State’s fourth in the game. Nate Romans, whose playing time has been limited, hit two home runs. In the sixth, Ohio State down 6-3, Tyler Cowles and Romans hit back-to-back solo homers and it was a one-run game.
After a long day and headed to the team bus, Romans and Canzone said the same thing OSU players have been saying far more than they would prefer.
“We just have to keep working,” Romans said.
“We’re a good baseball team,” Canzone said. “It’s little things that keep coming up, the same things…”
Like Romans, he concluded that the work must continue, that work and more work was the only solution.
The problems include: clear errors, some more egregious than others; misplayed balls or plays that should be made and aren’t, failure to take charge in the field, pitches that are taken and shouldn’t be and swings that shouldn’t have been made at all.
This is not at disparaging as it may sound. Ohio State is a team still in the making in a season that is approaching its 15th game, that coming here Sunday and, once more, against Coastal Carolina, now 12-4 and ranked 21st in the country.
This is a team, these Chanticleers, with a certain swagger, earned in large part and passed along by their 2016 National Championship, and the fact there are no soft spots in their schedule. (So far, they have played the likes of Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Maryland.)
There is an easiness about their play. They are calm and collected, self-assured. They appear to have the intangibles that lead to good, solid baseball. They are a little cocky, but sometimes a little cocky is a good thing.
Coastal is, in short, what Ohio State is working to become and advance.
“We’re a good baseball team,” Canzone said, not eager to belabor the loss. “We’re very close…There are just things we need to fix.”
Buckeyes coach Greg Beals referred to those things as “gut wrenching” at times. This was one of those times.
“We’ve got to find a way to thrive in the critical situations on defense…” Beals said. “We got to be tougher on defense. We’ve got to make that pitch when we need it and make that play when we need it.”
It’s a perfect summation of both losses, a summation, in fact, that applies to virtually all of Ohio State’s losses.
Offensively, they are doing the job. In Saturday’s two losses they had 18 hits and scored 12 runs.
In each game they had a lead early. They had 10 extra base hits: five doubles and five home runs.
“We seem to be handling ourselves on offense,” Beals said, “and we handled ourselves offensively today…But we need to support our pitching staff and make the plays that need to be made, and we are not making them at critical times. That’s what concerns me. An error at any time taxes a pitcher. The errors that lead to unearned runs are damning for a baseball team.”
The maddening aspect of all this is that the same players who are making costly mistakes have made great plays at one time or another.
“They are all capable,” Beals said. “We’ve seen Brady Cherry make great plays. We’ve seen Kobie Foppe make great plays…They are all capable.”
That said, the mistakes, the hesitation, the apparent lack of confidence continues. It is the Buckeyes bug-a-boo.
Against Coastal, they fought and they fought hard. “It came down to one pitch,” Romans said. “It wasn’t even a strike and the guy (Seth Lancaster) puts a great swing on it.”
To that point, reliever Jake Vance, who entered the game in the seventh following Griffan Smith, had four strikeouts and had not allowed a hit. In the ninth, he issued a walk and then came Lancaster.
It was a tough day all around. Ryan Feltner, the starter in the second game, lasted 4.2 innings and was touched up for six runs (five earned) on nine hits. Smith gave up four hits and two unearned runs. Cherry dropped a fly ball and Smith added a wild pitch.
There was stress all around, enough for everyone.
“Once we put it all together we are going to be good,” Romans said. “It’s just a play here, a pitch there. We just have to come back with more energy.”
There is no lack of confidence, none whatsoever.
“Once we clean it up,” Canzone said, “we’ll be competitive with anybody in the country. It’s just a process…that continues every day. We will get there.”