Wimmers Throws No-Hitter; OSU Sweeps

A weather postponement of Friday night's scheduled baseball game between No. 27 Ohio State and Michigan served to delay history for a day, but Alex Wimmers didn't mind. In front of a rowdy home crowd, the OSU sophomore struck out 14 and pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in Buckeye history as OSU swept a doubleheader against rival Michigan.

Jerry and Alex Wimmers have been there before.

The latter, a sophomore pitcher for the No. 27 Ohio State baseball team, had thrown two no-hitters in his life – including a perfect game in high school at Cincinnati Moeller – before Saturday.

So when Alex got through the ninth inning with no Michigan batters having reached base via a hit, his father knew history could be in the making.

"He's had two of them and … I just knew there was a chance that he was going to do well here," Jerry said. "It's the eighth inning that's critical for him. He knows once he gets through that he's got a shot at it."

The way Alex was pitching on Saturday, the result was a mere formality. He retired the Wolverines 1-2-3 in the ninth, taking out leadoff hitter Kevin Cislo with a called third strike, to complete the ninth no-hitter in Buckeye history and the first nine-inning no-no as the Buckeyes won the first game of a doubleheader 6-0.

At the final out, Wimmers threw his glove high into the air before being mobbed by his teammates spilling out of the dugout. A season-high crowd of 3,219, which had risen to its feet as one before the final at bat, went wild.

"I had a perfect game in high school, but I don't even care about that," a beaming Wimmers said on the Bill Davis Stadium field. "This is unbelievable, in college against Michigan. Oh my god, this is amazing."

The last time a Buckeye had a no-hitter was in 2003 when Greg Prenger threw a seven-inning perfect game against Oakland.

Wimmers (8-1) was dominant from the get-go and faced only 28 batters, one above the minimum, while throwing 79 strikes among his 133 pitches. He walked four batters, three of whom were thrown out trying to steal by Wimmers' childhood friend, catcher Dan Burkhart. He fanned 14 batters to reach a Big Ten-best 103 strikeouts on the year and post his sixth double-digit outing of the year.

"He just did not give in to the hitter," head coach Bob Todd said. "I know sitting in the stands sometimes you look at it and you're like, 'Oh man, now he's 2-1, 3-1,' but there's a method to his madness. He just did not give in to the hittes today."

He started on fire, striking out two batters apiece in the first, second, third and fifth innings while tantalizing the Michigan hitters with fastballs in the low 90s to which they couldn't catch up.

"I figured that out early on, so if they can't lay off of that I'm going to go up there all game," Wimmers said while covered in a shaving cream pie delivered by reliever Jake Hale.

He retired the side in the fourth inning and kept the no-hitter when Michael Arp caught the final out of the inning, off the bat of center fielder Ryan LaMarre, up against the wall in right field.

"It just kept carrying, so I was like, ‘Stay in the park, please,' and it did," Wimmers said.

He nearly didn't get through the eighth with the no-hitter intact. With one out and a runner on first, right fielder Nick Urban grounded a ball sharply up the middle that diving shortstop Tyler Engle stabbed on the second hop behind the second base bag at full extension. He was able to flip the ball to second baseman Cory Kovanda for a force out.

"That was awesome," said Wimmers, who lowered his season ERA to 2.51 by throwing his second shutout and fourth complete game. "He made a heck of a play."

"I knew what was at stake," Engle said. "With a commanding lead like we had that was the next thing in everybody's mind, to help Alex accomplish this. I gave it all I had."

In the ninth, Wimmers got pinch hitter Alan Oaks to ground out to second before striking out third baseman John Lorenz and Cislo.

Wimmers was supposed to take to the hill Friday night but the game was rained out, necessitating the Saturday twinbill.

"I felt normal," he said. "Actually I was a little more excited because it was Michigan. You always want to beat them."

Michigan starter Chris Fetter was just as good through five innings before things unraveled for him in the sixth when DH Ryan Dew singled home left fielder Zach Hurley and Kovanda.

The Buckeyes plated three more in the seventh inning, the highlight a successful suicide squeeze without the suicide – Kovanda's bunt scored first baseman Matt Streng and was good enough to put the junior second sacker on first base.

Dew completed a 2-for-4 game in the eighth with a solo home run to deep right-center.

OHIO STATE 9, MICHIGAN 6
Ohio State completed the doubleheader sweep with a 9-6 win against Michigan in the nightcap.

The Buckeyes fell down 2-0 in the first inning but put up five runs in the second to take a 6-2 lead they would not relinquish.

"I think that was just pride," Dew said. "The past few years we've really gotten beat up by Michigan. After that first win, which was huge, we knew that we couldn't get down after just one inning."

Ohio State had lost 14 of its last 15 regular-season games against Michigan and 22 of 30 tilts overall. With the win, the Buckeyes improved to 34-10 overall and 13-4 in the Big Ten to stay tied for first with Illinois

"We're still in the hunt," Todd said. "We're still in the running for a championship. That's why you play."

Dean Wolosiansky got the win to improve to 10-1, throwing 5.2 innings and giving up six runs, four earned, while Drew Rucinski was lights out in relief and Jake Hale picked up save No. 11 on the year by pitching a scoreless ninth.

The offense was paced by Dew, who went 5 for 5 with a homer, two runs, two RBI and two stolen bases to run his streak of consecutive at bats with hits to seven.

"I was just seeing the ball well today," he said. "They kind of just kept throwing it inside so I took advantage of it. They were leaving the ball up a little bit. Good things were happening."

Dew's solo shot to start the second inning tied the score at 2, and Ohio State plated four more in the frame. Arp scored on an error by Nick Urban with two outs, center fielder Michael Stephens had an RBI single and Burkhart brought home two with a single.

Dew singled and scored in the fourth to push the lead to 7-2, and Kovanda and Stephens scored in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Justin Miller and an RBI single by Burkhart.

Michigan cut OSU's lead to 7-6 in the sixth when Oaks had a two-run double that Hurley had tracked down only to see it fall out of his glove when he hit the wall, but that was as close as the visitors got. Urban also homered and had two RBI.

The game will be shown on tape delay on the Big Ten Network at a time to be determined, and Sunday's 1 p.m. tilt with the Wolverines is scheduled for broadcast live.


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