May 31, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 3 seed Ohio State recovered from an early five-run deficit to take a convincing 13-6 victory over No. 2 seed Georgia Sunday afternoon in Game Five of the 2009 NCAA Division I Tallahassee Baseball Regional at Dick Howser Stadium. With the win, the Buckeyes (42-18) advanced to the 4 p.m. championship game vs. Florida State. Georgia ends its season at 38-24.
A six-run seventh inning broke open the game for the Buckeyes, who had a slim 7-6 advantage heading into the inning. Ryan Dew, Tyler Engle and Justin Miller all scored before Michael Stephens came up to the plate and blasted one over the center field fence to score three more for Ohio State. The Buckeyes had four of the game’s 13 hits in the seventh inning.
Stephens had a banner day for OSU with three hits, including his seventh inning home run and an inside the park home run in the third inning. He also scored three runs and had four RBI.
The way Georgia started the game, it looked as if the Bulldogs were in complete control but not even three home runs in the contest were enough for the victory. Leadoff hitter freshman Zach Cone matched his season total with two home runs in the first two innings of the game. His second blast scored three, giving the Bulldogs a 5-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the second inning. Joey Lewis recorded his third home run of the weekend in the sixth inning but the Bulldogs could not overcome the Buckeyes’ comeback.
Down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning, the Buckeyes scored seven runs over the next three innings to take a 7-5 lead after four complete innings of play. As it turned out, it was the lead for good.
In the bottom of the second inning, Georgia made some costly mistakes that Ohio State capitalized on. With runners on the corners thanks to a base hit by Dew, two wild pitches and a walk to Justin Miller, Michael Arp singled through the left side to drive in Dew. Engle was hit by a pitch which loaded the bases for Matt Streng whose single to right drove in Miller. Arp scored on a Zach Hurley fielder’s choice.
Stephens’ inside the park home run to deep center to leadoff the bottom of the third pulled the Buckeyes to within a run and by the end of the inning, the game was knotted at 5-5. With one out, Dew doubled and Miller singled but a double steal attempt resulted in a caught stealing by Dew while Miller advanced to third base. Miller scored on a throwing error to third.
Georgia’s second error of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Ohio State took the lead with two unearned runs. Hurley hit a base hit to get things started, advanced to second on a sacrifice and went to third on a fielding error by Engle, the OSU shortstop. Stephens reached base on the error which put runners at the corners. Hurley scored on a ground out by Dan Burkhart and Stephens crossed home plate on a single to right by Dew.
Drew Rucinski earned his second victory in as many games and improved to 12-2 on the year. He pitched just one and two-thirds innings. Will Harvil got the loss and finished the season with a 4-3 record. Ohio State’s Jake Hale pitched the final two and two-thirds innings in relief and struck out six of the nine batters he faced while allowing just one hit.
Ohio State Head Coach Bob Todd
On redeeming themselves after Friday’s loss: “I think people that saw us play on Friday that are from this area probably said to themselves, why is Ohio State here? We did not play very well, we did not play the type of baseball we’ve played all year. I’ve made that comment. I thought our players did a very good job of coming out, staying focused. They executed what we talked about trying to do and in the middle of that ball game when it came time to play the short game and do the little things to give us a chance to keep putting pressure on them, we were able to do it and they couldn’t handle the pressure.”
CF Michael Stephens
On his in-the-park home run: “Honestly, when I was rounding second, I looked at Pete Jenkins. I thought I had stand up triple for sure and then all of the sudden he’s just waving me. The one thing that was running through my mind was earlier in the year, Zach Hurley had a shot just like that at the Big Ten Tournament and I remember he kind of gassed out on the way to third base and I was feeling it too. Rounding third, I was like oh-oh and he’s just waving me so I picked up that extra wind and just kept going.”
Georgia Head Coach David Perno
Opening Statement: “We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t play very good defense. When you get to this level in this game, those are two things that are a must and we didn’t do either of them. It’s frustrating and disappointing. Through all that, I think the game changed in the seventh inning. We had our guy up (Poythress) with runners on the corners and their guy, Jack Hale, did a better job. When he struck Poythress out, I thought the game switched at that time. I thought we had a chance. (Justin) Earls did a nice job. He kept it where it was. We scratched one, (Joey) Lewis hit a home run and then we had runners on the corners with our guy up and we just didn’t make it happen. It’s frustrating but there’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to win those types of moments in these games and we didn’t do that.”
LF Zach Cone
“Last night, I didn’t really do much and I made adjustments today and I felt good about it. I just tried to get on top of it. The first one was a line drive and I just got on the second.”