Greg Hoard
Greg Hoard

Born in Indiana and educated in Georgia, Greg Hoard came to Cincinnati in the winter of 1979 as a columnist for the Cincinnati Post sports department, and joined the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1984 as the beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds.  He has received numerous awards for his work. In 1990, he left journalism for television. Hoard worked for WLWT-TV from 1990 through 1993 as sports director and spent 12 years as sports director at WXIX-TV. His written work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Baseball America, Baseball Digest and NFL Game Day. He has appeared on ESPN and NBC’s The Today Show. Greg is the author of three books: Joe, Rounding Home and Heading for Home; Gary Burbank, Voices in My Head; and, most recently, Hannan’s Way, An Unlikely Trek Through Life. He is currently working on a baseball memoir, parts of which he will share here.

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The Buckeyes rebound from recent hitting woes with 15 hits, a couple of long-awaited home runs, and a brilliant starting performance by sophomore Garrett Burhenn.

DeLand, Fla.—Maybe it was the product of frustration, maybe a little anger. Possibly, Ohio State’s players simply relaxed and found their hitting stroke.

Whatever the case, a team that had shown a lack of confidence with the bats and little plate-discipline came alive Saturday afternoon in the Stetson Invitational and put a pounding on Harvard–Dillon Dingler and Conner Pohl leading the way.

Final score: Ohio State 13, Harvard 1.

The win broke a three game losing streak and improved the Bucks record to 4-7 heading into Sunday’s finale in the three-day tournament.

While Garrett Burhenn rolled out a strong seven-inning performance, striking out 13, allowing Harvard’s lone run on five hits, Ohio State partied around the plate.

When it was all said and done, the Bucks had collected 15 hits. Seven different players had two or more hits and four drove in two or more runs. A team that desperately needed a shot of confidence held a party around the plate.

Keep in mind this performance came on the heels of another humbling loss. Ohio State fell to Stetson Friday night, 9-1. They were held to six hits and struck out 13 times. In short, it had the look of too many of their previous losses and suggested this team was just not coming together.

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Saturday’s performance dampens those suspicions, at least for the time being, especially since so many got into the act and with such success.

Here’s an abbreviated box:

Mitchell Okuley 3-for-4; Dillon Dingler 2-for-3, 2B, HR and 3 RBI; Brent Todys 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Conner Pohl 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI; Sam Wilson 2-for-4, RBI; Nolan Clegg 2-for5, 2B; Nate Karaffa 3-for-5, 2 RBI.

Catcher Dillon Dingler joined the hit parade with a double, home run, and 3 RBIs.

Additionally, OSU was out on strikes just seven times and drew nine walks. If you’ve been watching, strikeouts have been a major concern. Friday night, for instance, the Buckeyes were out on strikes 13 times.

Given OSU’s offensive showing, the game was decided very early. The Bucks scored two in the first, five in the second and were up 13-1 after five.

But for all the enthusiasm this game might inspire, it should be pointed out that Harvard is not a baseball Mecca. As a rule, their players are often more concerned about the MCATS or LSTATS than their batting averages or an ERA.

Thus far, The Crimson is 0-5 and has been outscored by opponents, 55-14.

Sunday in the tournament finale, Ohio State meets Fairfield. The Stags were 1-6 entering Saturday night’s game against Stetson and were having their own problems at the plate.

In their previous seven games, they were outscored 59-23. In two losses against Boston College, they were beaten 19-6 and 20-1.

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