Paced by a two-home run day from Josh Dezse, the Ohio State baseball team earned a 9-4 series-opening win over Iowa Saturday afternoon at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 26-20, 7-9 in the Big Ten, while the Hawkeyes fall to 25-16, 7-9 in conference play.
“This has been a tough week but it’s allowed the guys to put baseball in perspective,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “They’re allowed to just go out and play baseball and realize how fortunate they are to be playing this game. Although we’re in a big part of our season, these young men are learning an incredible lesson right now that will benefit them for a long time on the baseball field and off.”
After the Buckeyes were unable to do anything with a single and a pair of walks in the bottom of the first, Ohio State got on the board off Iowa starter Andrew Hedrick in the bottom of the second. Ronnie Dawson led off the inning with a single through the right side before Zach Ratcliff followed with a home run down the right field line, his second of the season, to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. With one down, Tim Wetzel walked and moved to second on a groundout by Nick Sergakis before Connor Sabanosh followed with a single through the right side to score Wetzel for the 3-0 Buckeye lead after two innings of play.
Ohio State added to its lead off Hedrick in the bottom of the third. With one down, Pat Porter was hit by a pitch before Dezse drilled a two-run home run to right-center to put the Buckeyes up 5-0 after three innings of play.
The Buckeyes plated another in the bottom of the fourth when a Sabanosh double, a catcher’s interference call and a Porter walk loaded the bases with two down before Dezse grounded a single through the right side to score Sabanosh for the 6-0 Ohio State lead.
Ohio State tacked on one more in the bottom of the fifth when Dawson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before stealing second and third and scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by Craig Nennig to make it a 7-0 game after five innings.
After allowing a pair of baserunners in a scoreless first, Ohio State starter Tanner Tully cruised through the next five frames before running into trouble in the top of the seventh. Tully allowed a leadoff single by Taylor Zeutenhorst and, after a strikeout of Jimmy Frankos, a single by Kris Goodman before an error on a ground ball by Nick Day loaded the bases with one down. After Tully got Eric Toole to fly out to shallow left-center for the second out of the frame, the freshman left-hander hit Jake Mangler to score Zeutenhorst before walking Tyler Peyton to plate Goodman to make it a 7-2 game.
Ohio State responded in the bottom of the frame when pinch-hitter Troy Montgomery reached on a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nennig and scored on a two-base error on a ground ball by Wetzel to push the lead to 8-2 after seven innings.
Tully gave way to Tyler Giannonatti to open the eighth, after going 7.0 innings, allowing two unearned runs on five hits while striking out five. The Hawkeyes got one back off Giannonatti in the top of the eighth when Day plated Dan Potempa with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice before Dezse took Shulista deep to left-center for a solo shot to push the lead to 9-3 after eight innings.
Peyton picked up a solo home run to center to make it 9-4 with one down in the ninth but Giannonatti closed out the series-opening win.
Tully picked up the win to improve to 5-2 on the year while Hedrick suffered the loss, dropping to 3-3. Dezse went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a walk, four RBI and two runs scored while Dawson, Kuhn and Sabanosh each tallied a pair of hits.