Ohio State Advances Into Saturday's Championship Game
May 26, 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - No lead was safe as Minnesota and Ohio State traded back-and- forth innings in a winner's bracket game at the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. It took extra-innings for Ohio State to finally break away to defeat Minnesota, 10-9, and advance into Saturday's championship game at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Ohio State put a run on the board first when Jacob Howell started a two out rally in the bottom of the third inning. The speedy centerfielder doubled down the right field line and scored when Tony Kennedy kept the inning alive with a shot up the middle to give Ohio State an early lead.
However, Minnesota would quickly answer in the top of the next inning. After Matt Mee singled up the middle to lead-off the inning, third baseman Nate Hanson crushed his tenth homerun of the season over the left field wall. The two-run bomb put Minnesota ahead, 2-1.
The Gopher lead was short-lived though as the Buckeyes came back in the following inning. Again, with two out and no one on base, the Ohio State offense came alive. The Buckeyes manufactured a run on three straight singles to tie the game at 2-2.
The seesaw battle for the lead continued when both teams exchanged three run innings in the fifth. The top of the inning was highlighted by Minnesota first baseman Bryan Jost's lead off solo homerun. Jeremy Chlan did his best to follow, smoking a line drive over the head of pitcher J.B. Shuck who `hit the deck" to escape emblazed seams on the forehead. Chlan advanced to second on a Matt Nohelty sacrifice bunt and later scored on Dan Lyons' single to left field. Lyons would later come around and score the third run of the inning.
Ohio State would answer with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score once again, this time at 5-5. The Buckeyes capitalized on two Gopher errors to chip away at starting pitcher Ethan Vogt. Ohio State would drive Vogt from the game after tagging the Gopher hurler for three runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings of work.
The Gophers were able to score four runs in the next two innings while holding off a Buckeye attack, but it was only a matter of time before Ohio State would find a way to come back yet again. OSU tacked on two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings to tie the score for a third time.
Despite the offensive fireworks by both teams, the ninth and tenth innings passed without much fanfare. Then finally a Buckeye team that had been battling from behind almost all day ended the game by pushing past a run in the bottom of the eleventh inning. With two outs and a runner on third, Howell just had to put the ball in play as the speedster beat out the throw to first as Ohio State secured its spot in Saturday's championship game.
Minnesota and Ohio State combined for 35 hits in Friday's nightcap. The Gopher's Lyons, Hanson and rightfielder Kyle Baran each had three hits on the game along with the Buckeye's Jason Zoeller. Howell's game winning hit proved to be his fifth knock of the game, going 5-for-7 in the outing.
Rory Meister picked up the win, pitching the final 2.2 innings for OSU. He gave up no runs on one hit, walking one and striking out one to improve to 4-6 on the year.
With the loss, No. 2 Minnesota faces No. 3 Penn State Saturday afternoon at 3:35 p.m. ET. The winner of that game will have a shot at No. 6 Ohio State in the championship game slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.