Garrett Burhenn pitched seven strong innings and they got more of the kind of predictable offense they’ve come to expect. The Buckeyes open their weekend series with Hawai’i with a solid win.
Columbus – Freshman Garrett Burhenn got his fourth win of the season Thursday evening, a 6-4 decision over the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. It didn’t come easy.
The Warriors jumped him right out of the chute for two runs on three hits – and a pair of doubles – in the first inning.
Impressively, the Buckeyes answered in their half of the first…three runs on a single by Dom Canzone, a triple by Matt Carpenter, a double by Brady Cherry, and a sac fly by catcher Dillon Dingler, who returned to the lineup for the first time in five weeks.
Burhenn would not withstand such prosperity and promptly gave up the lead in the top of the third on a RBI single by Hawai’i’s Alex Baeza. He struggled with his command – left the fastball up in the strike zone – and the aggressive-hitting Warriors didn’t fly 10,000 miles to walk. They came out swinging.
But the Buckeyes’ young horse made adjustments the second time through the lineup. He located better, pitched more efficiently, and he pitched to contact. The defense, right on cue, picked him up.
Nick Erwin playing flawlessly at third base, Zach Dezenzo likewise, while filling in for Noah West at shortstop. Brady Cherry picked up another assist from left field, throwing out a runner at second base in the fourth; and Dillon Dingler gunned down a would-be steal attempt of second base as if he’d never missed a game behind the plate.
In addition, Erwin contributed at the plate, driving in the go-ahead run with two out in the bottom of the fourth. This time Burhenn buckled down and made that run stand as the winning run. He pitched scoreless baseball from the fourth through the seven, allowing just three hits. His final line: 3 runs on eight hits, walked one and struck out three – a quality start given that he had to withstand a rough start, handle some adversity, and hold serve until his offense could come to his defense a second time.
“Garrett was up in the zone a bit, but he threw strikes,” said Greg Beals afterwards. “And our defense played well behind him – good to see Nick Erwin at third base with our adjusted defensive lineup.”
That adjusted defense came as a result of Noah West tweaking a knee in practice this week, and he missed Thursday’s start. In his place Zach Dezenzo move laterally from third base to play his natural position from high school – shortstop.
“I’ve played it all my life,” said Dezenzo prior to the game. “It’s where my dad started me out in baseball and in some ways it’s easier to play than third base. You have more room and you have more time.”
But if West’s absence is potentially troubling, Dillon Dingler’s return to the lineup is as welcome as warm weather itself. He made his presence known immediately, collecting two hits while flashing the Big Ten’s best catching arm from behind the plate.
“It’s awfully nice to write Dillon Dingler’s name on the lineup card,” added Beals.
And, it’s awfully nice to see another day, and another game with the predictable offense they’re coming to expect. Brady Cherry hammered his ninth double and is now hitting a career high of .373 for 22 games into the season. Dom Canzone continued his hitting and on-base streak. Brent Todys had another two-hit game. And Matt Carpenter had another hit and his first career triple.
To wit, they added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth when Dingler singled with two outs, Todys drove him in with a triple to right, and Nolan Clegg finished things by driving in Todys with their ninth and final hit of the game.
The Buckeyes improve their record to 12-10 with 6 runs on 9 hits, committed no errors and left 6 on base. Dingler improved to 4-1, while junior Andrew Magno relieved TJ Brock in the eighth inning to record the final six outs and the save, his third.
Hawai’i dropped to 9-12 with 3 runs on 10 hits, played error-free baseball and left 7 on base.
On another cold, blustery day they followed the lead of Garrett Burhenn, whose seven innings of work were comparable, for the sake of impression, to his eight-inning 1-hit performance in his debut start against Seton Hall back in February.
But just as impressive were the new faces in new places. The adjustments made necessary by Noah West’s absence for two games without missing a beat. Matt Carpenter’s play at second base Thursday included an over-the-shoulder catch in center, and his bat – 16 hits in 52 at bats (.281).
Erwin, Dezenzo, and Nolan Clegg in center field (7 of 20, and .350). And of course, Dillon Dingler back behind the plate. Greg Beals said it all with his comment before the start of the season.
“We recruited these guys because we thought they could come here and compete – help us win.” Thursday he had a glimpse, but he’d like to see more.
The series continues on Friday with a 5:o5 start at Bill Davis. Sophomore Griffan Smith (3-1, 4.67 era) is the anticipated starter for the Buckeyes.