April 25, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Two first-inning runs were all that Northwestern could muster off Ohio State pitchers Jake Hale and Rory Meister as Ohio State took the opening game of the four-game series 11-2 Friday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park.
The Buckeyes improve to 21-16 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten, while the Wildcats fall to 14-18 and 8-9.
After Joe Muraski set down the Buckeyes in order in the top of the first, Jake Owens wasted little time in giving NU the lead as he launched his third home run of the season over the fence in left field on the first pitch he saw. Consecutive singles by Aaron Newman and Jake Goebbert put runners at the corners for the Wildcats before Mike Kalina chased home Newman from third with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 2-0.
Ohio State got its offense going in the top of the second as it collected five straight singles to open the inning and seven total in the frame to go ahead 4-2. Cory Rupert, Dan Burkhart and Cory Kovanda each had run-scoring hits in the frame while Tyler Engle brought home another with a sac fly.
Unfortuantely for the Wildcats, Muraski's struggles continued in the third as two hits and a walk to open the inning loaded the bases for Burkhart who drove home two to increase the Buckeyes lead to 6-2. Jonathan Purcell entered in relief for Northwestern and prevented any further damage.
The Buckeyes' advantage grew to five in the fourth when Justin Miller drove home J.B. Schuck with a double to left-center. Mike Folan pitched a scoreless fifth before Ohio State tacked on two unearned runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to up their cushion to 10-2. Brian Morgan worked the final two innings on the mound for NU, surrendering a run in the ninth to account for the final margin.
Following their two runs and three hits in the bottom of the first, the Wildcats were handcuffed by Hale. The right-hander scattered eight hits while striking out three in eight innings pitched to improve to 5-1 on the season. He was also aided by three double-plays turned behind him.
Max Mann, Owens and Goebbert had two hits apiece for Northwestern, while Michael Arp, Burkhart and Miller had three apiece for Ohio State. Goebbert had a double in the contest to raise his 2008 total to 19 and within two of the school season record.
The teams resume their series Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. Both contests are being televised live by the Big Ten Network.