Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, sports, the outdoors, and music; and he has a degree from the school of music at Ohio State University.

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Hoping for better – a sweep – the Buckeyes ran into a buzz saw from Eastern Michigan, dropping the weekend series finale, 6-1.

Pensacola, FLA – The old adage about garbage and house guests is true. They both get stale after three days!

You can add baseball to that, as well. On the final day of their three-day Pensacola stay…the Buckeyes fell to Eastern Michigan Sunday, 6-1.

Hoping for something better, like a sweep of their weekend series here in the Cox Invitational Tournament, the Ohio State Buckeyes played as they had nothing left after Saturday night’s thrilling come-from-behind win over #16-ranked Southern Mississippi.

They didn’t pitch well. Starter Adam Niemeyer was spotty, giving up three runs in the second – and another three-spot in the fourth – to an aggressive Eastern Michigan lineup that swung freely…and ran freely once they were on base.  The Eagles like to steal bases and they had a field day against the Buckeyes, with six swipes in six attempts!

Niemeyer pitched only into the fourth inning, giving way to Yianni Pavlopoulos with one out.  Pavlopoulos pitched effectively through the seventh.

Their respective lines: Niemeyer went 3.1 innings, giving up six runs (all earned) on 7 hits, with 4 strikeouts and two walks. Pavlopoulos went 3.2 innings, gave up 3 hits, no runs, walked 3 and struck out none.

Andrew Magno came in the eighth to retire the first two outs. Thomas Waning relieved him to record the final out.

But it was a ragged day…for lack of effective starting pitching, and while they recorded nine hits, they never really strung anything together offensively.  Nor did they have any extra base hits!

Eastern Michigan starter Luke Devenney entered the game with a 6.00 ERA, but pitched like Cy Young for seven innings, spotting his fastball and keeping the Buckeyes off-balance with an effective breaking ball.

Shortstop Kobie Foppe ranges behind second base to make a play in the fourth inning of Sunday’s loss.

The big difference in the game was the pitching of Devenney and the aggressiveness of the Eagles, offensively. They played to win…and win they did.

Eastern had 6 runs on 10 hits, committed no errors, and left 8 men on base.

OSU had 1 run on 9 hits, committed two errors, and left seven men on base.

“I’m very disappointed in the outcome,” said Greg Beals, prior to their flight back to Columbus. “We put ourselves in a great position yesterday, early in the season to record a big win, and then we come back and didn’t play very well today. We didn’t do anything very good today.”

He didn’t mince words, and spent a longer-than-usual amount of time in the outfield for his post-game address.

“We didn’t have any extra base hits today, our swings weren’t very good, and it’s just disappointing that we can’t come out with the kind of gumption that we had last night. Good baseball teams have that, and obviously we have a lot to work on.”

It’ll be a quick turnaround, with a trip next weekend to South Carolina and two games with High Point, followed by two games with 2016 NCAA champion Coastal Carolina…then a pair of mid-week games with UNC-Wilmington.

“We have to go home and go back to work,” said Beals.

And part of that work is to figure out his weekend pitching rotation as their home opener and the Big Ten season rapidly approaches. Niemeyer’s outing on Sunday was an obvious concern.

“Sure it is,” said Beals. “We didn’t pitch very well today. We had six walks and a hit batsman. But Niemeyer isn’t our only concern.  We were down in the count a lot…we just didn’t play very good baseball. It’s disappointing that we can’t stay at the high level.  You can’t have hangovers from last night’s win if you’re going to be a great team.

“We can’t have the roller-coaster. We have to be consistent and today was an opportunity to show that we could…and we didn’t do it.”

With the loss the Buckeyes stand 7-4 for the season, with another big opportunity next weekend.  High Point stands 5-5 after ten games.  Coastal Carolina is 9-3 as of this weekend.

They’ll be in Conway, South Carolina for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday (DH)…exactly three days!

Nothing went right…Catcher Jacob Barnwell and first baseman Bo Coolen wait for an Eastern Michigan bunt to roll foul in the three-run third. It didn’t!

Bats for every occasion, including ‘fungos’. Phoenix is proud to support the Ohio State Buckeyes on Press Pros.

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