Battling a blister on his pitching hand that has plagued him throughout the Big Ten season, starting pitcher Drew Rucinski struggled with his command and gave up four homers – including three in a six-run first inning – as first-place Minnesota drilled the Buckeyes, 16-2, at Bill Davis Stadium on Thursday night.
"You could tell he was being bothered by the blister," head coach Bob Todd said. "It's just one of those games. Minnesota swung the bats well, scored some runs and got the momentum. There really was not much to it. Everybody has had those kinds of days. You just don't like to see it. I was watching a ballgame with my wife the other day and it got to 15-1 or something, and I said I hope I don't have to sit through that. Well, I just did."
The loss left Ohio State, 6-13 in its last 19 games, out of the six-team Big Ten tournament with two games to play in the regular season.
The Buckeyes are tied with Michigan State – which lost at Northwestern – for seventh at 10-12, a half game ahead of Iowa (10-11), whose game against Purdue was rained out. Indiana beat Illinois to move into sole possession of fifth at 11-11.
While the Buckeyes could sneak in by winning one of the next two based on how the results fall, sweeping the final two games would obviously improve chances. With that in mind, Todd confirmed the Buckeyes will pitch Alex Wimmers, the team No. 1 who is battling a hamstring injury, Friday night at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
"We have to win the next two or we might not make the tournament, it's plain and simple," catcher Dan Burkhart said. "We just have to win, and we have to figure out how to do it."
The Buckeye hitters weren't given much chance after Rucinski's control problems left him serving up meatballs. He got two outs in the first before Golden Gopher first baseman Nick O'Shea blasted his team-high 12th homer of the year on the initial pitch of his at bat to give Minnesota (26-27, 14-8) a 3-0 lead.
One batter later, second baseman Matt Puhl hit his first homer as a Golden Gopher to nearly the same spot in left-center to make it 4-0. After a single by third baseman Kyle Geason, DH Trip Schultz drilled another fastball off the scoreboard in right field to make it 6-0.
"We were fired up as can be," Burkhart said. "We were ready to go and everyone was real excited about the game, and I don't know, it went sour pretty fast. What can you say, really?"
That early output was more than enough for Minnesota's ace, Seth Rosin, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Ryan Dew hit a solo homer to lead off the frame. Rosin (7-4) completed his evening with nine strikeouts in seven innings of two-run, three-hit ball.
Geason later added two homers to finish 4 for 6 with four runs and four RBI. O'Shea matched his RBI total, while leadoff hitter A.J. Pettersen also had four hits.
No Buckeye finished with more than one hit. Rucinski fell to 4-4 by allowing nine runs in five innings.