They pitched well – they hit even better. The Buckeyes closed their opening weekend in Port Charlotte with a convincing win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Port Charlotte, FLA. – It ended well. The Buckeyes’ opening weekend of the 2018 baseball season ended with a complete, and satisfying win over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (2-2) Sunday.
Behind the four-hit pitching of starter Yianni Pavlopoulos, complemented by a 14-hit attack by the offense, the Buckeyes scored 13 unanswered runs between the second and eighth innings – 3 in the second, 1 in the third, 4 in the fourth, 2 in the fifth, 2 in the sixth, and 1 in the seventh – and routed the state of Wisconsin’s only Division I program, 13-3.
“It was a critical day for us – we needed a win,” said Greg Beals, post-game. “We didn’t play very well yesterday, and you certainly don’t want to go home from opening weekend 2-2. Yianni gave us the best outing of any of our starting pitchers this weekend, we swung the bats with confidence, and we were able to get a lot of people in the game for some at bats. And that was important to us.”
In a nutshell, the Buckeyes (3-1) probably caught the Panthers pitching a little thin in the weekend finale for both teams, working UW-M starter Jared Reklaitis for eight runs on 8 hits over the first three-plus innings of the game. And from there…they just added on.
It was…a ‘hit parade’.
Conner Pohl had his best day of the weekend, recording three hits.
Bo Coolen got the start at first base and put the Bucks ahead to stay with a critical bases-loaded single to center in the top of the third inning. He finished with two hits.
Kobie Foppe continued to hit, with two more hits.
Dom Canzone caught the fever with a pair of base hits, and started in center field, while Noah McGowan got some playing time in right.
Brady Cherry had a pair of hits and three RBIs.
Jacob Barnwell had a pair of hits and two RBIs.
The list goes on and on as UW-M coach Scott Doffeck used his bullpen liberally and the Buckeyes greeted each successive pitcher with a patient approach, hard contact, and base hits.
But perhaps more important than the 13 runs and 14 hits was the pitching of Pavlopoulos, who after a sloppy 2-run first inning (a walk, a pair of hits, a fielder’s choice, and a wild pitch), settled down to pitch 2-hit ball for the next four innings.
He was sharp, he was efficient, and his command of the game seem to establish an overtone of confidence for the offense.
“He pitched well,” added Beals. “And yes, I think the rest of the team does respond to an effort like Yianni gave us today. It’s easier to play when you know you’re getting a good performance on the mound because pitching sets a tempo for the whole ballclub. It starts on the mound. He gave us five good innings, and he had more in the tank. He could have gone farther.”
“My tempo was better after that first inning,” said Pavlopoulos, seeking to put last year’s 2-5 record behind him. “It showed in our defense because they made great plays behind me the whole game. It was definitely good to have a quality start after the first inning, it was a good win for the team, and now we just try to roll it into next week and prepare for another good start. It was important for us to come out here today and play well.”
And that they did, accentuated once again by another good day by the bullpen.
After Pavlopoulos departed in the sixth, Thomas Waning, Andrew Magno, Jake Vance, and ….Jonathan Jahn
all pitched effectively (four innings, 1 run on four hits), with only Vance giving up a run on two hits in the eighth inning.
Ohio State won with 13 runs, 14 hits, committed no errors and left twelve men left on base.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee lost it with 3 runs, 8 hits, committed three errors and left six men on base.
They now take a couple of days to assess the weekend, their performances, and the coordination of things before leaving on Wednesday for Phoenix and the Big Ten-PAC 12 Challenge – four games with #2-ranked Oregon State (a CWS semi-finalist last June) and the University of Utah.
Greg Beals was visibly pleased with the finale…and for the fact of going home on a positive note.
“A lot better to go home 3-1 than 2-2, and that was a focus for us today,” he said before boarding the bus for a hurried trip to the Fort Myers airport. “It makes me all the more fired up over how we lost yesterday. I feel like we gave one away when we could have gone home 4-0.
“But it was also critical to get the entire roster some work this weekend because they put in a lot of work and it’s nice to reward them with playing time.”
And to a man they boarded the plane for home Sunday evening with the feeling of having finished on a high note.
3-1 is SO MUCH BETTER…than 2-2!