Wimmers Dominates But No-Hit Bid Falls

Magic was in the air for seven innings in Bill Davis Stadium on Friday night, but Alex Wimmers fell just short of a historic night. The Ohio State sophomore took a no-hit bid into the eighth before it was broken up; nonetheless the Buckeyes dominated Michigan State 6-1 to earn a crucial Big Ten win.

Dan Burkhart has been catching Alex Wimmers since the two were 9 years old, so Wimmers should know to listen to his catcher by now.

Instead, with a no-hitter going in the eighth inning, the Ohio State righthander shook off the suggestion of a fastball down in the count 2-0 to the first hitter of the inning. The ensuing curveball that Wimmers threw was floated down the right-field line for a double by Michigan State's Eric Roof, spoiling the bid at history.

"Usually when I second-guess myself with Dan behind the plate, it comes back to haunt me," Wimmers said.

That was about the only thing that went wrong for the OSU sophomore on Friday night. Battling the chill and the wind at Bill Davis Stadium, Wimmers (6-1) was magnificent, going the distance and allowing just two hits to lead the Buckeyes to a 6-1 victory.

Burkhart had the big blow for the Buckeyes offensively, driving a three-run homer over the right-field wall in the seventh inning. Zach Hurley also homered for No. 28 Ohio State, which improved to 24-7 and moved a half-game behind first place in the league at 4-3 in the Big Ten.

"There isn't too much to be disappointed about," head coach Bob Todd said.

The night belonged to Wimmers, who battled stiffness while making his last two straight sub-par outings after beginning the year afire. He was excellent from the first pitch on this night as his ERA fell to 3.32 for the year, walking just two and striking out 11 to extend his Big Ten lead in the stat and reach double digits for the fourth time this year.

"Pretty much all of my pitches were working," he said. "Early on I couldn't get my curveball over as much as I would have liked, but I just kept rolling."

Burkhart could tell. He was the one catching Wimmers when the latter threw a perfect game in high school at Cincinnati Moeller, so he's seen the 6-2 righty at his best.

"Everything was crossing my mind about the perfect game and no-hitter," Burkhart, also a sophomore, said. "I thought he was maybe going to go out there and do it, but it's hard to do that in baseball.

"It seems like every outing he's on. If he keeps doing what he's doing he's going to be really successful."

The only run he allowed came when Roof scored in the eighth on a balk.

By then the tally was a mere formality. Ohio State took a 1-0 lead on MSU ace Nolan Moody, who entered with a 2.94 ERA, when leadoff hitter Zach Hurley blasted a pitch well over the wall in right field to start the home half of the first.

Moody (4-4) fell into a groove until the sixth. First baseman Matt Streng singled home Michael Arp in that inning to make it 2-0, and then Burkhart's bomb in the seventh brought home Hurley and Cory Kovanda.

"He hung a slider," Burkhart said. "It broke inside and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Shortstop Tyler Engle tripled in the eighth and was brought home by Streng's sacrifice fly to set the final margin.

"I told our ballclub that I felt like the mental toughness of our team paid off tonight in the late innings," Todd said. "I could tell our ballclub was getting a little frustrated. We had some good at bats early. We had some people on base. We just couldn't come through with a big two-out hit. All of a sudden we were able to do that."

The Buckeyes and Spartans (11-19, 3-4) rematch in the second game of a three-game set Saturday at 1:05.

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