Ohio State Buckeyes Big Ten Tournament Champions
May 27, 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In a Touranment that was defined by its offensive fireworks, Ohio State used two early runs in the first and two more in the eighth to capture the 2007 Big Ten Tournament title, 4-2. It was the third time since 2001 that the sixth-seeded team made it into the championship game and the first time the six seed took home the hardware. Minnesota advanced into Sunday's title game after defeating Penn State, 4-3, in a come from behind game that was suspended and later resumed this morning due to rain.
Ohio State dug in, in the first inning noticeably filthy despite it being the first game of the day for the Buckeyes. Unwashed uniforms, perhaps an effort to bring a little luck to the sixth-seeded OSU squad. It seemed to work as the Buckeyes put through two runs in the first. Jacob Howell put the first run on the board for Ohio State when he scored by leading of the inning by being hit by pitch and advancing on three wild pitches. Later in the inning, designated hitter Jason Zoeller singled to right center to score J.B. Shuck who had gotten on with a walk and put the Buckeyes ahead, 2-0.
It took longer for Minnesota to light up the board. The Gophers had only put runners in scoring position in two previous innings before placing two runs on the board in the top of the eighth. After Matt Nohelty reached base on a fielder's choice, shortstop Dan Lyons doubled down the left field line. The ball found the corner of the ball park long enough for the speedy Nohelty to score from first. Mike Mee followed with a single up the middle to score Lyons and tie the score at 2-all.
Gopher starting pitcher Gary Perinar had held the Buckeyes scoreless since the first inning, however, a clutch two-out double by pinch-hitter Michael Arp was Ohio State's answer in the bottom of the eighth. A lead-off walk by Perinar started the inning before he was relieved by lefty Kyle Carr. Later, with runners on first and second and two outs Arp was called in to pinch hit for Ryan Dew. Arp sent a screaming line drive down the left field line to clear the bases and put Ohio State back up 4-2.
The late rally was too much for the comeback kids of Minnesota who failed to score in its last at-bats.
Jake Hale picked up the win for the Buckeyes, shutting out Minnesota for only one hit in 1.1 innings of work. Starting pitcher Cory Luebke was superb in his second outing in four days. The Buckeye ace went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out five Gopher batters.
With the win, the Buckeyes have an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament starting June 1, at Regional sites yet to be announced. Teams hoping for at-large bids will be watching Monday's selection show at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN for a chance to play in tournament action.