The Ohio State baseball team saw its season come to a close with a 6-5 loss to Illinois Thursday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The Buckeyes conclude the 2014 campaign with a 30-28 record.
“This was a disappointing loss but only in the fact that we did not win the game,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. “I thought our guys fought hard. We pitched well and played well today. I’m proud of what we did as a team this season. I like the brotherhood we have here and how the team dealt with the adversity they faced all year.”
Illinois got on the board in the top of the first against Ohio State starter Ryan Riga. Adam Walton reached on a one-out single back up the middle and scored on a two-out double to left-center by Jason Goldstein. Reid Roper followed with a single to left to plate Goldstein for the 2-0 Illinois lead.
Ohio State threatened against Illinois starter Kevin Duchene in the bottom of the second. Jacob Bosiokovic reached on a leadoff single before Connor Sabanosh walked to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Troy Montgomery followed with an apparent bunt single but Connor Sabanosh was called out after interfering with Reid Roper at second base. Craig Nennig then grounded into an inning-ending double play as Illinois preserved the 2-0 lead.
The Illini rallied again in the top of the fourth when Reid Roper led off the inning with a bunt single before an infield single by Casey Fletcher put runners on first and second with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt by Ryne Roper moved the runners up to second and third with one down but Riga bounced back to strike out Ryan Nagle and Kelly Norris-Jones to keep it a 2-0 game.
Illinois tacked on two more in the top of the fifth. Three-consecutive singles to lead off the inning plated Will Krug before a double play by Goldstein scored Walton to push the Illinois lead to 4-0.
The Buckeyes got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Sabanosh singled to lead off the inning and, after Montgomery flied out to center for the first out of the inning, Nennig reached on an error to put runners on first and second with one down. Tim Wetzel followed with a fielder’s choice as Nennig was cut down at second for the second out of the inning but Nick Sergakis followed with a line-drive single to left to score Sabanosh to cut the Illini lead to 4-1 after five innings.
Ohio State knotted the game up with three in the bottom of the sixth. With one down, Josh Dezse walked before Bosiokovic doubled to right-center to put runners on second and third. Sabanosh then grounded out to third for the second out of the inning as both runners stayed put but Montgomery followed with a ground ball to short and the throw by Walton sailed into the first base dugout as Dezse and Bosiokovic came around to score. Nennig then grounded a single through the left side to plate Montgomery from second to tie the game at 4-4.
Illinois answered right back in the top of the seventh. Norris-Jones and Krug singled to lead off the inning to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Walton then laid down a sacrifice bunt and Riga’s throw to get Norris-Jones sailed down the left field line to give Illinois the lead back at 6-4. Jake Post came on in relief for Ohio State and allowed a sacrifice bunt but David Kerian to move Walton to third but the Buckeye sophomore responded to strike out Goldstein and Reid Roper to keep it a 6-4 game.
The Buckeyes came back to plate a run in the bottom of the frame. Sergakis led off the inning with a double before Ronnie Dawson was hit by a pitch to chase Duchene from the game. Nick Blackburn came on for the Illini and surrendered a bunt single to Troy Kuhn to load the bases before Dezse scored Sergakis with a sacrifice fly to right. Blackburn responded to strike out Bosiokovic for the second out of the inning but walked Sabanosh to load the bases before the Illini went to Tyler Jay out of the bullpen. The Illinois left-hander came on to strike out Montgomery as the Illini clung to the 6-5 lead.
The Illini then loaded the bases with two down in the top of the eighth on two singles and a walk but Travis Lakins came out of the bullpen to strike out Walton as it stayed a one-run game.
However, Jay tossed two more scoreless innings to close out the 6-5 win and earn his 10th save of the year.
Duchene picked up the win to improve to 4-1 on the year while Riga suffered the loss to drop to 4-4. Sergakis went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored while Bosiokovic finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.