Those hallmarks were gone as the Buckeyes tried to complete a three-game sweep of Michigan in front of 2,525 fans in Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State left 13 runners on base, allowed three unearned runs and gave up two runs on wild pitches as Michigan posted a 9-2 win.
"I wasn't thrilled with our energy today," head coach Bob Todd said. "We did some things defensively that weren't characteristic of us. And obviously, pitching is the name of the game. They were able to capitalize. They got some this when they needed to. We weren't able to shut off their offense at all. Really, a frustrating afternoon."
With the loss, Ohio State (34-11) fell a game behind first-place Illinois, who is 14-4 in the Big Ten after beating Northwestern, and a half-game behind 13-4 Minnesota. The Buckeyes and Fighting Illini will face off next weekend in Champaign in a three-game set with major Big Ten title implications.
Michigan (24-21) was on top from the get-go and improved to 7-11 in the Big Ten, keeping alive hopes of making the six-team Big Ten tournament.
Leadoff hitter Kenny Fellows reached on an error by OSU shortstop Tyler Engle in the first and, after Anthony Toth doubled, came home to score on cleanup hitter Mike Dufek's double. A ground out by Nick Urban plated Toth and an RBI single by Jake McLouth brought home Dufek to make it 3-0 after the first off of OSU starter Eric Best (6-3).
Best gave up five runs, two earned, in 4.1 innings pitched while his opposite number, Michigan's Eric Katzman, was fantastic, scattering four hits and three walks in five innings to improve to 7-4.
Ohio State was its own worst enemy on the offensive end. The Buckeyes loaded the bases with one out in the fifth but scored a single run when DH Ryan Dew was hit by a pitch. That play was sandwiched by a pop out to right by third baseman Justin Miller and a strikeout by right fielder Michael Arp.
In the sixth, left fielder Zach Hurley doubled in Shawn Forsythe with two outs but was caught trying to move to third on the throw. Center fielder Michael Stephens and Miller had back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh but Dew and Arp flew out.
"If you can't get ready to play an archrival, there's something wrong," Todd said of the OSU mistakes. "There was not the energy that we needed today."
Hurley, Stephens and Miller had two hits apiece for OSU. Dufek added two RBI singles to his RBI double, while Ryan LaMarre and Tim Kalczynski had two hits and two runs apiece.
Ohio State was without cleanup hitter Dan Burkhart after the catcher collided on the basepaths with a Michigan fielder late in Saturday's second doubleheader contest. Forsythe allowed three Michigan stolen bases in as many chances and gave up a passed ball.
Before taking on Illinois, the Buckeyes trip to Louisville to take on the NCAA-contending Cardinals (32-13, 14-6 Big East) in a two-game set Tuesday and Wednesday.