Sophomore infielder Tyler Pettorini had not hit a home run in 47 career games leading up to Wednesday against Toledo.
After junior outfielder Kade Kern hit his fourth home run of the season one at-bat prior, Pettorini launched a slider from Rockets sophomore right-hander Brennan McCune over the scoreboard in right field — on his mother’s birthday, and Pettorini said he “had to hit a home run” — to give Ohio State a 5-4 lead.
“It felt good,” Pettorini said. “I kind of knew it was coming since Kern just hit a home run on a fastball, so I was kind of thinking it was going to be something off-speed.”
Pettorini’s first career home run marked the second time in the game Ohio State (12-7) hit back-to-back home runs, lifting the Buckeyes to a 6-4 victory over Toledo and their eighth win in nine games.
The first time the Buckeyes hit two-straight home runs came in the bottom of the second inning.
After the Rockets (9-10, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) took a 2-0 lead in the first two innings on a bases-loaded walk by sophomore outfielder Caden Konczak and sacrifice fly by sophomore outfielder Garret Pike, Ohio State redshirt junior utilityman Hank Thomas launched his first home run of the season off freshman left-hander RJ Shunck.
One batter later, sophomore infielder Josh McAlister tied the game with a solo home run over the trees in left field.
“A lot of guys had been trying to pitch me in lately, and I wasn’t thinking it was going to be in. I was more looking for an outside fastball,” McAlister said. “He gave me a fastball inside, and I was ready for it to turn on it.”
The 2-2 deadlock was broken in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Toledo sophomore designated hitter Owen Jackson hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field. Jackson’s home run was his ninth of the season which leads the MAC.
Next half-inning, Ohio State ran the bases to pull within one run of the Rockets lead. With runners on the corners, freshman catcher Matthew Graveline stole home, one of the Buckeyes five stolen bases.
After Kern and Pettorini’s home runs gave Ohio State the lead in the seventh inning, redshirt junior utilityman Caden Kaiser hit an RBI single to shallow left field in the eighth, setting up freshman left-hander Landon Beidelschies in the ninth.
Beidelschies allowed Toledo baserunners on second and third base with one out, but retired the next two batters he faced. Beidelschies struck out the powerful Jackson to end the game and immediately celebrated with his catcher Graveline.
“Pitching with energy and emotion is kind of my thing,” Beidelschies said. “I like to work fast and kind of use my mentality against the other team.”
After being held to no runs and three hits in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Wright State Tuesday, head coach Bill Mosiello said his team “competed” in Wednesday’s win.
“Yesterday we hit like one or two balls even hard,” Mosiello said. “Today, we had some loud outs, we had swung the bats a lot better, then obviously drove some baseballs.”
Both teams hit over .300 with 22 combined hits. Ohio State also drew five walks, putting its total to 112 which is tied for second in the Big Ten Conference.
“We got some good [at-bats],” Mosiello said. “A lot of good stuff offensively.”
McCune earned the loss for the Rockets, while redshirt junior Blayne Robinson, in his 11th appearance as a left-handed pitcher, picked up his second win of the year and Beidelschies earned his third save.
Sophomore right-hander George Eisenhardt and Schunck both picked up no decisions as starters. Eisenhardt gave up two runs on five hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings, while Schunck allowed the home runs to Thomas and McAlister and went two innings.
The Buckeyes begin Big Ten play with three games this weekend against the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana, starting Friday at 4 p.m. All three games can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
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