After blowing a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning and losing to Iowa on Friday, the Ohio State Buckeyes got revenge on the Hawkeyes to win the 2016 Big Ten Baseball Tournament on Sunday by a score of 8-7.
It was the Hawkeyes who jumped out to a 4-0 advantage after plating a run in the bottom of the first and tacking on three more in a big third inning.
But fourth-seeded Ohio State bounced back in a big way with five runs in the fourth, catalyzed by a two-run double from Ronnie Dawson, seen courtesy of the Big Ten Network:
The Buckeyes' left fielder eventually came around to score on a successful suicide squeeze, as center fielder Troy Montgomery reached first on a bunt and scored an RBI by plating Dawson in the process.
Hawkeyes Mic highlighted how Iowa pitcher Ryan Erickson's defensive mishap led to a disastrous sequence for the Big Ten's upstart eighth seed:
Erickson was chased from the game shortly thereafter but was ultimately charged with all five runs in only one-third of an inning of work.
Both sides clamped down on defense for the subsequent two innings until OSU cleanup hitter Troy Kuhn provided insurance with a two-run single in the top of the seventh to give the Buckeyes breathing room.
Ohio State continued to show off its defensive prowess, highlighted by a magnificent stab from third baseman Nick Sergakis to stymie what could've been a two-out Hawkeyes rally:
There would be time for a comeback charge for Iowa yet, though.
The Hawkeyes stormed back with three runs in the eighth to knot the score at seven apiece, capped by center fielder Joel Booker's run-scoring single—one of his game-high four hits in five official at-bats:
That set the stage for game-winning heroics from Kuhn. Living up to his billing in the batting order, Kuhn rewarded Dawson for his two-out single by ripping a double down the third baseline:
The clutch extra-base hit amounted to the decisive run. Dawson went 3-for-5 with two RBI at the dish, while Kuhn drove in a game-high three runs.
On the strength of Sunday's win, Ohio State earned an automatic qualifying bid for the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes' last appearance in the big tourney was 2009 and they haven't made the College World Series since 1967.
OSU had a chance to get into the NCAA tournament on an at-large bid had it lost Sunday's contest, so the defeat is all the more devastating for Iowa.
It was nevertheless a strong Cinderella run by the Hawkeyes considering their low positioning in the Big Ten tourney bracket. The hope is Iowa can carry its run forward as momentum for next season.
Buckeyes head football coach Urban Meyer reached out to congratulate the team on the triumph, tweeting, "Congrats Coach Beals and Buckeye Baseball! BIG Tournament Champions! Wow!!!"
Montgomery and Kuhn were interviewed about the victory afterwards, per Ohio State on BTN:
MLB veteran and former Ohio State standout Nick Swisher tweeted, "Congrats to the boys from @!! So proud of y'all!!! Keep up the good work!!! Bring that big trophy from Omaha back to the O-H!!"
Hawkeyes head coach Rick Heller, senior leader Tyler Peyton and Booker were among those who spoke about the tough loss, per Iowa Baseball:
Heller discussed how his club minimized mistakes, while Peyton thanked the fans for their support and emphasized how the Hawkeyes never stopped believing in themselves as the Big Ten tourney wore on.
Stats courtesy of StatsBroadcast.com.