Two misplayed fly balls helped fuel a four-run eighth inning as Ohio State University rallied for a 9-6 victory over No. 15 University of Southern Mississippi Saturday in the Cox Diamond Invitational at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The Buckeyes (7-3) tacked on another two runs in the ninth inning, as the Golden Eagles’ bullpen was roughed up for six runs on seven hits over the final three innings of the game.
Southern Miss (7-3) led 6-2 after scoring four times in the bottom of the fifth inning. But the Buckeyes scored once in the sixth inning and then took the lead for good in the eighth.
Jaylon Keys, who was playing right field for the first time this season after pinch-hitting for Mason Irby in the sixth inning, dropped a fly ball for what would have been the second out of the inning after a long run, as the Buckeyes closed to 6-4.
After a single by pinch-hitter Nate Romans loaded the bases, Jarod Wright (2-1) was lifted in favor of Keller Bradford, who walked in a run to get OSU within a run of the lead.
Jacob Wierich replaced Bradford, and got pinch-hitter Dillon Dingler to hit a long fly to right that had Keys turning and twisting first one way, then the other. The ball fell cleanly, giving Dingler an RBI single and tying the game.
Outfielder Dominic Canzone then lined a single to left field to give the Buckeyes the go-ahead run.
OSU added two more runs in the ninth on a double by second baseman Brady Cherry, a triple by right fielder/first baseman Noah McGowan and single by third baseman Conner Pohl.
Curtiss Irving (2-0), the third OSU pitcher, picked up the win with a scoreless 2/3 of an inning. Seth Kinker allowed a walk in two scoreless innings to earn his third save.
USM broke on top with two unearned runs with two outs in the second inning off one of the Big 10 Conference’s top professional prospects, Buckeyes right-hander Ryan Feltner..
Designated hitter Daniel Keating reached second base when OSU shortstop Kobie Foppe threw wide of first base. Second baseman Matthew Guidry went the other way to left field to score Keating with the Golden Eagles first hit of the game.
Guidry, who had moved to second on the throw to the plate, made it 2-0 when catcher Cole Donaldson drove him home with a single into right field.
Ohio State tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning when USM starter Nick Sandlin hit McGowan with a pitch and Pohl crushed a full-count pitch over the wall in right field for his third home run of the season.
The Golden Eagles opened up a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. First baseman Hunter Slater and Donaldson had RBI singles, Keating was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push home a run and Guidry’s fielder’s choice chopper drove in another.
Feltner allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits in five innings, walking two and striking out five.
But after Sandlin departed after six innings, the Golden Eagles could not keep the Buckeyes at bay. Sandlin allowed three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out six in his shortest outing of the season.
Slater, who had three hits Friday in USM’s win over Eastern Michigan University, had two more Saturday, including a triple in the seventh inning. Guidry and Donaldson also had two hits each.
USM struck out 12 times Saturday and stranded 10 baserunners.
Canzone and Pohl had three hits each for the Buckeyes. McGowan, who scored four runs, reached base in all five of his plate appearances, collecting a single and triple, walking twice and getting hit by a pitch.
USM will wrap up the round-robin tournament by taking on Nicholls State University (1-9) at 2 p.m. Sunday.
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